ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Families in Elizabeth Township say they are concerned a well pad site was approved and is under construction so close to Elizabeth-Forward High School. Parents with kids in the district say they have major concerns about the safety and health of their children.
“We’re putting our children at risk,” Fred Bickerton tells Channel 11.
Bickerton is the treasurer of Protect Elizabeth Township. The grassroots organization filed an appeal in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas against Elizabeth Township and commissioners, arguing that they did not meet public health and safety ordinances when the well pad project was approved 5 to 2 in January. That includes an evacuation plan.
“We’re 1700 feet from the school,” Bickerton tells Channel 11. “How do you evacuate this school if there’s an emergency and you need to get the kids out now? Get the buses in here, get them loaded and out. You’re not going to do that in a short period of time.”
From Weigles Hill Road, you can see the location of the orange fencing in relation to the high school.
“It’s mind-blowing,” Kellianne Frketic said. “You can see the school and the orange, it’s terrifying.”
Kellianne Frketic has a son who will be a freshman this fall at Elizabeth Forward High School. The school doesn’t have air conditioning so the windows will be open to construction sounds and potentially pollution. Her son, like so many students, will also play on the sports fields next to the well pad site.
“Next to a school, is non-negotiable,” Frketic added. “I don’t think there’s any benefit that could outweigh the risks.”
She is so upset about this project and the potential health implications for children that she’s actually running for Ward Commissioner. One of her good friends, who is also in this fight, is running for a spot on the school board.
“We decided we don’t want to move,” Frketic added. “We want to fight for our area, our school, and our kids.”
Even though the project is working its way through the court system, construction is still able to continue. It’s not clear what the timeline is for a judge to make a ruling.
Olympus Energy provided Channel 11 with the following statement for our news coverage:
“At Olympus Energy, we are committed to safety, on our well sites and in the communities where we operate, and the Heracles well pad in Elizabeth Township is no exception. After nearly an eight-month review process, we received local conditional use and land development approval from the township. In
addition to these approvals, we also agreed to additional conditions for this location going above and beyond the legal and ordinance requirements to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to the communities in which we are privileged to operate.
● Installation of sound walls around the pad with continuous noise monitoring during active operations.
● Implementation of an air quality monitoring and sampling plan for this location that is focused on VOCs, PM2.5 and methane, that goes above and beyond our routine air monitoring plan and responsibly sourced gas certifications through Project Canary.
● To reduce truck traffic, we will pipe fresh water for our completions operations instead of trucking this water to location
● We will coordinate our operations to have minimal impact and disruption to the high school’s schedule.
● We will work with the township, its first responders and the school district to implement a training drill. We also will work closely with the first responders to ensure that they are properly equipped so that they can secure the safety of the community, the school and the larger service area.
We look forward to continued safe operations in the township, at the Heracles well pad, and throughout our footprint.
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