Decision on Well Was Appropriate

Chesapeake Energy invested a substantial amount of money and effort in a plan to drill a gas well about a quarter-mile from Wheeling Park High School. In abandoning the proposal last week, the company did the right thing.

For months, the firm had planned to drill a well on a tract of land owned by the Parks System Trust Fund of Wheeling. Chesapeake officials believed the site would be safe. They noted it is about twice as far away from the school as required by state law.

But the Ohio County Board of Education, Ohio County Commission and Wheeling City Council objected, as did some local residents. About 20 of them filed formal objections to the plan with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

A key concern cited by the school board was the safety of roads near the school. Only three roads provide access to the school, it was noted – and an accident at the proposed well could have made some of them unsafe to use.

Company officials were steadfast in their insistence Wheeling Park High school would be safe, even in the event of an accident at the well site. And the DEP continued to consider the company’s application for a drilling permit.

Last week, telling the News-Register it was seeking alternative drilling locations, Chesapeake withdrew its application.

No doubt company officials honestly saw no problem in drilling near the school. Many Chesapeake executives and employees have children, too, after all.

Still, in view of the amount of concern expressed by local residents, as well as the school board, county commission and city council, they made the appropriate decision in withdrawing its permit application.

Though some area residents have complaints about the company, Chesapeake has been a good neighbor in many respects in its Ohio Valley operations.

In doing the right thing regarding drilling near the school, it reinforced that reputation.