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Parents Oppose Permit for Gas Well Near School

Parents and children wanted township supervisors to deny the permit for Range Resources to drill a third natural gas well near a school. (Moms Clean Air Force)
Parents and children wanted township supervisors to deny the permit for Range Resources to drill a third natural gas well near a school. (Moms Clean Air Force)
September 30, 2016

MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa. – Over parents' objections, a permit has been granted for a third natural gas well to be drilled near a public school in Washington County. Mount Pleasant Township supervisors approved the conditional use permit on Wednesday night.

But according to Patrice Tomcik, an organizer with the group Moms Clean Air Force, having three wells less than a mile from a school attended by more than a thousand students raises serious concerns.

"There's going to be more air pollution, more health and safety risks from this industrial activity being set up so close to school," she said. "So, we're very concerned about what this means, today and in the future, for the children."

The permit approved by the supervisors does impose some safety conditions, including requiring vapor recovery units, emissions monitoring and "green completion methods."

Range Resources, the company seeking the permit, said the gas industry has wide public support and holds leases on almost 95 percent of the township. But Tomcik pointed out that the wells will now surround the school on three sides, at distances of three-quarters of a mile or less.

"The closer that well pads are, the more of them that there are, the higher the risk it is to people, especially children, who are a vulnerable population," she added.

Pollution associated with gas production has been linked to respiratory diseases, cancer, and asthma.

And Tomcik said when there have been explosions or fires at other well sites, people have been evacuated from the area within a mile of those wells.

"So, what that means is, the children in the Fort Cherry School District, if there happened to be something that happened at that well pad, would need to all be evacuated at once," Tomcik explained.

According to a recently-released Oil and Gas Threat Map, more than 1,300 schools in Pennsylvania are within a half-mile of active oil and gas wells, compressors or processors.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA