Proposed Gas Well Could Be Near Wheeling Park High School - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Proposed Gas Well Could Be Near Wheeling Park High School

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Chesapeake Energy has applied to the Department of Environmental Protection for permission to drill a gas well very near Wheeling Park High School.

While school officials are not speaking out about it, others are.

The gas well would be less tan a half mile from Wheeling Park High School.

The area has numerous outdoor sports fields, three public soccer fields, tennis courts and a huge public picnic shelter.

The school alone, with 1700 students, would pose a nightmare for emergency management in case of a fire or explosion.

"We have a plan to evacuate the entire student body and all the staff and faculty to Wesbanco Arena," said Lou Vargo, Ohio County EMA director.

In case of an ongoing emergency, Vargo says holding school there would be out of the question.

"Of course if there is a gas well emergency like a fire, I can't see having school going on, on a daily basis, when we're within a half mile hazard zone," Vargo said.

Ohio County School officials are not commenting on the gas well.

But Attorney Bob Fitzsimmons is.

Fitzsimmons owns property in the area, and told 7 News he has filed an objection to the well, citing possible water contamination.

"I want them to guarantee, not 99% but 100%, that our water is going to be safe, today and in the future," says Fitzsimmons. "And if they can make that guarantee, then I'm OK with it. Until then, I'll have an objection."

Vargo says he's never seen a gas well permit that was not granted.

So he's assuming it will happen.

But he's at least hoping that the timing of the permit will be on the safe side, when the students are out of school for the summer.

"The ideal situation would be to have the permit granted, the pad being built and drilling and fracking be done during the summer when there's the least amount of students there," Vargo said.

But he says since it's already late April, it looks as though the timing may be far from ideal.