Residents concerned about proposed drilling site near Oklahoma school

EL RENO, Okla. – People who live near Banner School in Canadian County are worried about a possible new horizontal drilling site that would be located right behind the school.

“We saw the trucks bringing gravel in,” Phyllis Jackman told News 4.

Jackman says she was wondering what the gravel was going to be used for, so she called the Banner School to find out.

“We have connections to the school because we have grandchildren going there and so we found out that they had been notified,” Jackman said.

They were notified by Chaparral Energy that they are planning to drill a horizontal well right behind the school.

“That it’s so close to the school, the activity, the lights at night for myself, just living across the street from it, the traffic,” Jackman said, listing off some concerns.

More importantly, she’s worried about safety after a site near her Union City home caught fire years ago before they moved to El Reno.

"When we lived out in the country in Union City, the well next door to us caught on fire and I was at work. I had three daughters at home. I had no way to leave, had to have a friend that lived in town come out and get them," Jackman said.

She said they got the fire out and thankfully, no one got hurt. However, she said it was still a scary situation.

"It's definitely a concern that this is so close to a school that something like that could happen," she said.

It’s not a done deal just yet. The company will go before a judge later this month to get final approval.

"It's our plan to go to the meeting,” said Jackman. "All we can do is stand before the Corporation Commission and just ask them to reconsider.”

That hearing will take place on Monday, Sept. 16 at 8:30 a.m. on the first floor of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Chaparral Energy released this statement to News 4:

"We are an active and experienced operator in Oklahoma with a well-earned reputation for good, safe and respectful operations. Because we always aim to be good neighbors in the communities in which we operate: We proactively requested a meeting with Banner's principal and invited school board members, as well, so that we could address any concerns and offer any support just as we have with similarly situated schools. That meeting was productive, and we addressed all of the questions posed by the school’s principal. We also offered to put together FAQs for school families, which we are finalizing, and to collaborate with the school to defray any costs it might incur in connection with our operations. We are voluntarily incurring significant extra expense to keep dust to a minimum, including rocking and watering the location instead of cementing it. Finally, we have instructed all contractors to avoid routes that disrupt school traffic and to respect the integrity of the roadways in the area. Importantly, no parent has contacted the company to voice any concerns; if they would have, we would have responded promptly as we always do.  We look forward to continued collaboration with the community as we develop our great state’s oil and natural gas assets."

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