The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 2, 2014

OUR VIEW: Don’t imperil the students with a nearby injection well


- — A bumper sticker on the back of a car traveling down Route 62 in Brookfield recently said it all: “No Frickin’ Frackin.’”

That was the unanimous feelings of the Brookfield School Board and Superintendent Tim Saxton when they came out against the idea of drilling a saltwater injection well less than 1,500 feet from a district school building.

A recent front page story on the issue detailed the decision by the school board that responded positively to the fears of township people who attended a public hearing on Jan. 29 at the Brookfield Township Administration Building.

Saxton sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, expressing the views of the school board about granting a permit for a class 2 brine well to be built along McMullen Road and state Route 7 near the new high school that holds 1,200 children daily.

Atlas Energy of Cortland, Ohio, was granted a permit by ODNR last month to begin drilling. The ground supposedly is suitable for safe disposal of the toxic wastewater from fracking efforts in Pennsylvania and the company is confident that with appropriate monitoring and established safeguards there will be no issues.

Saxton, who said he isn’t against the oil and gas industry and efforts to grow, raised some serious concerns:

• The school building is relatively new and still settling into the earth. How will that change the structure of the ground beneath it?

• In 15 or 20 years, who can say where this brine will go as changes occur in the  underground?

• What if there is even a minor earthquake that could force cracks in the earth and allow the waste to flow into nearby water reserves or even wells?

Saxton and members of the school board met with Bob Barnett, owner of Atlas Energy. Saxton said, “While he seems very nice and seems like he knows what he’s talking about, in the end he’s a businessman. Well I’m a businessman too, in the business of running a school and protecting children.”

Is there any business more important than protecting children?

That alone should far outweigh any possibilities of added jobs or increased tax revenue for a school board or municipality.

Another issue that bothered Saxton was the legality of ODNR being the agency that approves the permits to drill and receiving financial compensation from each gallon of waste dumped in the well.

We side with Saxton and the school board on this issue of fighting any well-drilling near the school. While the pros and cons of fracking are still being debated around the country, erring on the side of safety should be No. 1 when it comes to protecting children.