Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Northeast Texas high school parents link fracking to students' health problems

Parents of students at a Texas high school are worried that hydraulic fracturing operations near the school are causing adverse health effects among their children. One parent, Kelly Grant, says since "gas drilling began near Argyle High School in recent weeks, her daughter has experienced severe symptoms of asthma, a condition she had controlled for years," Lowell Brown and Britney Tabor of the Denton Record-Chronicle reports. Grant says twice in recent weeks her daughter had to leave marching band practice because of dense fumes on the field.

"Grant described the scene for Argyle school board members Monday night, joining a group of parents, residents and local environmentalists with expertise on Barnett Shale community impacts, all concerned about increasing natural gas development in the area," the reporters write. One "fracking" well, known as Whitehead pad, is about a half-mile from the high school while a second well, known as the Jenkins pad, is about 1,500 feet from Argyle Intermediate School and about half a mile from Hilltop Elementary School. "Complaints about students with nosebleeds, dizziness, disorientation and nausea started appearing on the [Argyle-Bartonville Communities Alliance]’s blog in early October," Brown and Tabor report.

Andrea Morrow, a spokeswoman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said the agency had responded to complaints in the area three times this month and taken an air canister sample on one visit. Results of the test are still pending, Morrow said. "In 2008, the Argyle school district signed leases with Hillwood and Williams Production allowing gas exploration on about 110 acres of district-owned property," the reporters write. "To date, the district has received $680,681.25 in revenue from the leases." Superintendent Telena Wright said she had spoken with a TCEQ investigator about the problem and was awaiting results from the air test. (Read more)

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