Chesapeake drops plan for well near W.Va. school

WHEELING (AP) — Chesapeake Energy has dropped a plan to drill a gas well near a high school in the Northern Panhandle and will look for alternative sites.

The proposed well near Wheeling Park High School drew objections from the Ohio County Board of Education, the Ohio County Commission and the Wheeling City Council.

About 20 residents also filed objections with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“Chesapeake chose to withdraw the applications for the Parks System Trust Fund site as it seeks alternative drilling locations,” Stacey Brodak, Chesapeake’s senior director of corporate development, told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register.

“Any plans for new well locations will be submitted to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for review as a permit application, and will be subject to public comment.”

Tom Aluise, a DEP spokesman, said the agency’s Office of Oil and Gas learned late Thursday that Chesapeake had withdrawn its permit application.

The proposed well would have been drilled 1,300 feet from the school on land owned by the Parks System Trust Fund of Wheeling. That’s more than twice the legal requirement. But opponents were still concerned about the well’s proximity to the school and access issues in the area.

Only three roads provide access to the high school, the Board of Education said in a letter to the DEP objecting to the plan.

Ohio County Schools Superintendent Dianna Vargo said  that the school system’s legal counsel “has informed us that the issue with Chesapeake has been resolved. We have no other information at this time.”

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