District ignores unanimous opposition by parents, approves installation of Phillips Exxon Mobil Corp 'fracking' wells on school property

Monday, September 26, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: fracking, school property, health news

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(NaturalNews) Not a single parent of a student attending a South Butler County School District (SBCSD) school has expressed support for the district's plan to allow Phillips Exxon Mobil (PEM) Corp. to build oil and natural gas drilling wells on school property. But this did not stop the Pennsylvania school district's board members from approving, in a 6 - 2 decision, a lease permitting PEM to build the wells as close as 500 feet from classrooms.

Pennsylvania has become a hotbed of natural gas drilling operations in recent years due to its proximity right over the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, both of which contain large amounts of lucrative natural gas fuel. As a result, formerly-unspoiled land, private property, and now public schools, are all becoming infested with drilling machinery and wells, which are a serious threat to environmental and human health (

"I have concerns that the safety of our children may be compromised," said Heather Rickenbrode, a Penn Township resident and parent of a SBCSD-enrolled child, to Pittsburg Live. "I am personally not willing to gamble my child's health for an education."

At a recent public hearing on the issue, which was not widely announced, a group of local residents expressed serious concerns about allowing "fracking" (hydraulic fracturing) wells to be built so closely to facilities where young children spend much of their time throughout the school year. Since fracking involves the injection of many tons of water and chemicals into the ground -- and many accidents have already occurred, resulting in poisoned groundwater and other environmental contamination -- it has no place on school property, they say.

SBCSD also has a water well on site that it uses to water the school football field, which represents another problematic factor in the equation. Though the well is not used for drinking water, its possible contamination by fracking chemicals could have devastating effects on the student athletes that use the field for practice and games.

Nevertheless, despite a complete death of support from local residents or parents for the project, district officials have approved the fracking lease anyway. If and when drilling wells are built, SBCSD will receive $3,750 from PEM per acre used, plus an 18 percent royalty fee, according to Pittsburg Live. PEM will also pay SBCSD a $15,000 fee for every well that it builds.

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