CAMERON, W.Va. – Marshall County school officials are questioning a company’s plan to drill a natural gas well near Cameron High School.
Schools superintendent Michael Hince said that he’s concerned about potential accidents at the well site.
“I don’t want to overreact, but I don’t want to underreact either,” Hince told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register. “I am concerned about the exit strategy. We need to see some sort of an evacuation plan.”
“What if there is some sort of an explosion? Does that mean we have to stop air flow into our building?” Hince said. “I don’t know if having it there will be detrimental to the school itself, but the real concern is if something should happen.”
Cameron assistant principal Wyatt O’Neil is also concerned. In addition to potential accidents, he said that truck traffic related to the well likely will travel past the school, causing frustration for students and teachers.
“The geography is the problem out here. The traffic from the gas and oil companies is changing everything,” he told the newspaper. “We used to ride bikes on the road, but I wouldn’t do it now.”
Michael Mucheck, assistant director of Marshall County Office of Emergency Management, said that his agency has never had any problems with Trans Energy.
“They regularly attend our energy task force meetings. They quickly responded to some road issues we notified them about,” he told the newspaper.
In 2012, school officials and residents in neighboring Ohio County expressed similar concerns when Chesapeake Energy proposed drilling a well near Wheeling Park High School in Wheeling.
The Ohio County Board of Education objected to Chesapeake’s application for a state permit and more than 300 people signed an online petition to stop the well. Chesapeake withdrew its permit application.
Wheeling Park has about 1,600 students, while Cameron has about 380 students.
“Strength in numbers,” O’Neil said regarding the Ohio County situation. “It will be harder to stop something like this out here.”
O’Neil said the drilling boom in the region is an adjustment for everyone.