Chris Van Horne
Local researchers and the Fort Worth League of Neighborhood Association want drilling platforms pushed back to one mile away from schools.
A study to be released next week says that natural gas drilling operations produce high levels of pollution.
The study, which will be presented to the Fort Worth Independent School District board on Tuesday, recommends such operations be kept one mile from schools.
Three months ago, several local researchers and the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods Association commissioned a study to see how dangerous pollutants from gas drilling operations are to schoolchildren when the board considered granting leases within 1,200 feet of school grounds.
"When you start actually looking at the levels of carbon disulfide, it's shocking," said Deborah Rogers, who has been involved in the league and monitoring natural gas drilling for the last several years. "People are going to be concerned."
Rogers said some publicly known industry data was used in the report, but that most companies did not cooperate with the study.
One of Chesapeake Energy's drilling sites was monitored by the study, but the company declined to comment on the specific recommendations because the report has not yet been released to the public.
"Created by a biased panel using questionable methods, the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods Association report is obviously designed to prey on the unfounded fears of parents, teachers and school board trustees," Chesapeake spokesman Brian Murnahan said. "Since this organization has refused to release a copy of the report to the public, even though several requests have been made, everyone should question its motives."
Others in the industry say that it is hard to comment without seeing the details of the report, but say that the one-mile recommendation is extreme.
"The existing city (of Fort Worth) regulations say 600 feet," Ed Ireland of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council said. "One mile is actually an impossible goal."
League representatives say they don't want the drilling to stop, just be safer for the community.
"They have the right to drill; people have the right to harvest their minerals, but it must be done responsibly," Rogers said. "It must be; it's as simple as that."
Burton Hill Elementary in North Fort Worth was one of two sites targeted by the study because several drilling operations are within a mile of the campus.
The full study will be released next week, but the league released its recommendations Thursday night.
Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods Association Study Recommendations
The study makes the following recommendations for all Fort Worth ISD leases going forward:
The study also makes the following recommendations on natural gas pipelines near FWISD schools: