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Parents concerned after drill site approved behind Oklahoma school

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EL RENO, Okla. — Banner School parents are raising concerns about a drill site that was recently approved by the OCC to begin drilling and testing a couple hundred feet away from a school and playground.

“As it’s breaking ground, I had no idea about it without going to recess on my own,” Ashley Jump told News 4.

Jump is talking about a drill site that sits a couple hundred feet away from her kids’ school and playground.

“Let’s assume everything goes well. We still have the issues of traffic, we still have the issues of smell. We have the smell,” Jump said.

Jump shares this concerns with many Banner School parents.

“We’re of course worried about all of the gases that’ll be leaked and the water contamination, explosion, the truck traffic,” Brandi Strahorn, another parent, told News 4.

Superintendent Michael Prior told News 4 he received a letter from the company, Chaparral Energy, letting him know they’ve been approved to drill and making it clear the site is “more than two and a half times the distance required by state statute.”

Prior said he still has some fears.

“What I would like is for the site not to be so close to an elementary school. So my concern would be what are the worst case scenarios. If those scenarios happen, children are going to be affected,” Prior said.

He said during his talks with the company though, representatives told him they want to be good neighbors and operate in a safe manner.

“They want to work with the school and they want to do as much as they can. So I would say we’re making the best of the situation,” Prior said.

Chaparral Energy recently sent News 4 this statement:

  • 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.
        -Chaparral Spokesperson
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