Proposed school near gas well concerns Fort Worth neighbors

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by CHRIS HAWES / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on November 19, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 19 at 12:11 PM

FORT WORTH — Gary Hogan supported the Fort Worth Independent School District last year when it sent a letter to the city's gas drilling task force insisting gas wells should be at least 600 feet from the edge of school property -- not just the school building.

So imagine his surprise when he learned that a proposed elementary school would be right across the street from an already-approved drilling site and the required setback measured all the way to the building.

"It just blew me away," Hogan said. "It's absurd; it's the ultimate insanity."

The proposed school would be on Rosemont Park land, off Seminary Drive. The district said schoolchildren would not play in front of the proposed school, on city parkland nearest the wells. Playgrounds instead would be on the other side of the building, outside of the 600-foot radius.

"I don't how anybody in good conscience anyone could put an elementary school where these even the potential, the possibility, of these emissions making children sick," Hogan said.

Hogan is concerned about recent revelations by the state about high levels of benzene found in the air near some natural gas facilities in the Barnett Shale.

Drillers, however, say Fort Worth is known to have "dry gas," which refers to gas produced virtually free of other chemicals.

But Hogan wants more study, and Rosemont residents speaking at Wednesday night's neighborhood meeting were also unconvinced.

There is a lot to lose, however. The proposed school would include a community center for the Rosemont neighborhood.

"We are at risk of not having that community center, but what I want to hear tonight is that the choice the community wants," said councilman Joel Burns.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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