Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Marcellus Outreach Butler: Gas Well Fire Demonstrates Need For School Setback

Marcellus Outreach Butler Wednesday called for natural gas drilling and gas related infrastructure to be kept at least one mile away from schools.
The gas well explosion and fire that began February 11 near Dunkard, Greene County, which injured one worker and left another missing, feared dead, prompted the State Police to set a half-mile perimeter around the burning well.  
The fire couldn’t be approached closer than 300 yards due to its intensity, yet in Butler County a well exists approximately 300 yards from Summit Elementary School.  A well will be about 1,900 feet from Connoquenessing Elementary School and a well is planned close to Moraine Elementary School.  
The school districts to which these schools belong themselves have either leased or are considering leasing and they are not the only school districts that throw caution away to shore up their budgets with gas industry money.
What are the risks?  The Greene County explosion was not the first gas well explosion in Pennsylvania.
A gas well explosion and fire on February 23, 2010 injured 3 workers in Avella, Washington County.  On June 3, 2010 in Clearfield County a natural gas well blowout allowed natural gas and flowback fluid to spew uncontrollably on the ground and shoot 75 feet into the air, as campers in the Moshannon State Forest were evacuated.
Several well fires have occurred in the Marcellus Shale play over the last few years.
A well explosion and fire  near New Milton, WV on July 7, 2013 in which 2 of the 8 workers injured subsequently died. On September 21, 2013, residents of Kent, WV were evacuated when a processing plant exploded.
Blowouts and fires of unconventional wells and infrastructure have occurred in other shale plays beyond the Marcellus Shale area.  
Although not frequent occurrences, well fires are a risk that comes with this industrial process involving dangerous chemicals and highly volatile methane gas.  If an explosion similar to the one in Greene County happened next to a school, the consequences could be devastating.  
A report by PennEnvironment found that in a 5-state region, permitted fracking well sites are found within one mile of 223 schools.
We demand that legislators and regulators do the right thing and take action to “protect our children.”
For more information, visit the Marcellus Outreach Butler website.

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