WPHS Gas Well Permit Is Pulled

Chesapeake Energy has withdrawn its permit application to drill a natural gas well adjacent to Wheeling Park High School.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection spokes-man Thomas Aluise on Friday said that DEP Office of Oil and Gas officials learned of the matter late Thursday.

What this means – at least for the time being – is that the company will not be sinking a natural gas well a quarter-mile from the high school, a proposal that drew criticism from some community members and school officials over safety concerns.

“Chesapeake chose to withdraw the applications for the Parks System Trust Fund site as it seeks alternative drilling locations,” said Stacey Brodak, Chesapeake’s senior director of corporate development. “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.”

The land on which Chesapeake had sought to drill the well is owned by the Parks System Trust Fund of Wheeling. Wheeling attorney James Gardill, who serves as the attorney for the Wheeling Park Commission, did not return a call seeking comment.

The proposed well’s 1,300-foot distance from the school was more than twice the legal limit for wells to be located from an “occupied dwelling,” as required by the Legislature. However, its proximity to the high school – along with access issues in that area – led officials with Ohio County Schools, the Ohio County Commission and Wheeling City Council to object to the location.

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