London 'methane house' family finally moving
A family who has been fighting for help because of the high amounts of methane gas in their Millbank Drive area home is finally moving out.
Michelle and Damian Smith, whose Westminster Ponds area home has been assessed as having no value because of the risk of explosion, began the moving process on Wednesday morning.
“We are not prepared to stay here any longer because we know our health and our safety is at risk so we’re leaving,” Michelle says.
Damian adds that it’s “Going to be a big relief to be out of the house today and moving to a new location.”
Reports obtained by the family show industrial chemicals, include benzene and trichloroethane, in amounts that exceed Environment Ministry standards for cancer risk.
Civil engineers MTE Consultants conducted the tests in the spring and the results were analyzed by a third party.
The reports complement historical records that suggest the home was built on an inactive landfill site.
“Now we have scientific proof that yes, our land is a landfill. These volatile organic compounds and petroleum hydrocarbons, they just don’t occur naturally in the ground. Someone had to put them there,” Michelle says.
The ordeal for the family began almost six years ago when somebody noticed smoke rising from a small garden in the home’s front yard and geological testing confirmed explosive levels of methane in the ground.
They have sued both the City of London and Monarch Home Builders, saying the city allowed the home to be built on a methane-producing former landfill.
Representatives with the city will not comment because of the ongoing litigation, but they have said in the past the high methane readings are due to naturally occurring swamp gas.
The city is also appealing the province’s assessment of the home’s value at zero, since it cannot collect taxes on it. A hearing on the issue is set for January.
Meanwhile Michelle says the move to a rented condominium on the other side of town is a bittersweet for the family.
“I hate leaving here. This is the home we’ve lived in for 16 years. We didn’t want to leave. This was our dream home.”