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Article published February 21, 2014
Rule of probability
Jason Bell Evans City
“Tragic. You hear about it in other places, but you never think about it being here.” That’s what Dunkard Township Supervisor Joe Gacek said after the Feb. 11 explosion of a Chevron shale gas well in Greene County claimed the life of one worker and sent a second to the hospital. Emergency crews set up a half-mile perimeter around the inferno and firefighters initially couldn’t set foot within 900 feet because of the intense heat. Many counted their lucky stars the well wasn’t near homes or schools. But this isn’t always the case. Drilling for shale gas often occurs in close proximity to homes, schools and parks. A recent report by PennEnvironment found that there are 88 daycare facilities and schools within a half-a-mile of a permitted well, like like the Rex Energy well currently being drilled less than 1,000 feet from Connoquenessing Elementary School, and 413 within a one-mile radius. There are 17 different childcare facilities in Pennsylvania that have had five or more fracking permits issued within a half-mile radius. Pads aren’t the only danger. There is also the web of pipelines. On Feb. 13, a NiSource pipeline in Kentucky exploded sending one person to the hospital and burning three homes, two barns and four cars. Twenty homes near the 60-foot blast crater were evacuated at night. NiSource operates pipelines here in Butler County. Is this the future of Butler County? Are we willing to accept the risk of dangerous drilling and pipelines near our loved ones, our property, and our public parks? How long will it be until a government or school official in the county echoes the sentiments of Mr. Gacek?