Methane leak repaired, Elkridge family returns Test of house finds none of the gas present

October 07, 1998|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

An Elkridge family forced from its home last week because of high levels of methane gas moved back Saturday after fire officials tested the home and found no evidence of gas.

Three other families who moved out a month ago from a neighboring subdivision because of methane have not returned. The cause of the problem in both subdivisions has not been determined, according to the home builder.

Chris and Danette Riviello and their daughter Emily, 7, left their home in the Marshalee Woods subdivision Sept. 30 after officials detected a 35 percent concentration of methane gas in the air near a sump pump in the basement.

"We learned a lot about methane, and we understand it much better now," said Danette Riviello, 36, who says she isn't worried about immediate danger. "We have two gas detectors now so we should be OK."

Robert Coursey, spokesman for Ryan Homes, the company that built the houses in both subdivisions, said an engineering firm was dispatched to the Riviellos' house last week to install a ventilation system and seal the sump pump in an effort to eliminate the methane leak.

"The ventilation system immediately took care of the gas problem and the family was able to move back in," Coursey said.

"Ryan Homes apparently did the right thing because when we tested the home there was zero percent of methane gas inside," said Capt. Sean Kelly, spokesman for Howard County Fire and Rescue Services. "After we found no gas inside, we provided the family with the option of moving back in, and they decided to return to their home."

Three other families who live in homes a few blocks away in the Calvert Ridge subdivision were evacuated Sept. 2 after fire officials detected methane near the sump pumps in their basements. It is not clear if levels of methane are still present in the homes since the three Calvert Ridge families have not agreed to permit fire officials to test their homes for three consecutive days. If fire officials found readings of 10 percent or less, the families would have the option of returning, Kelly said.

Ryan Homes has offered to install ventilation systems in the homes of the three Calvert Ridge families, but the families have not given the company permission to go ahead.

"We're still concerned about what's causing the methane," said Matt Fox, one of the evacuated Calvert Ridge residents. "The methane level from day to day is not important, I want to know what's causing it."

Fox acknowledged that it is possible there is no methane inside, but he said that the last test done two weeks ago still indicated high levels.

"The methane is still there somewhere, nothing has been done to the site," Fox said.

Coursey said Ryan is awaiting tests results from the engineering firms. Once those tests results are available, Ryan will inform the families and the county of the findings, Coursey said.

Pub Date: 10/07/98

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