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Parents Concerned About Fracking Near Fox Chapel Schools

Amy Sisk
90.5 WESA
Fox Chapel School District’s Hartwood Elementary is within two miles of a well pad where fracking is slated to begin this July.";

A group of parents from the Fox Chapel School District is concerned about how their children’s health will be affected by hydraulic fracturing in the area. 

The Range Resources fracking is slated to begin this July at a site in Indiana Township less than 2 miles from elementaryand middleschools in the district. 

There’s growing concern among public health researchers that pollutants from fracking might adversely affect children’s neurological development.   

Resident Greg DiMidio, who has a 3-year-old daughter, said the community wasn't adequately informed about plans to drill gas wells in the township.

“There was no way to understand what was happening, how it was decided, and where it was going to go and what were all the considerations in terms of the air and water quality,” DeMidio said. “The well pad sits right on top of the hill, above Emmerling Park where hundreds of children attend camp during the summer.”

In an emailed statement, Range spokesman Mike Mackin said that, "The Allegheny County Health Department recently conducted a full-cycle air quality study at one of Range’s nearby locations, which found air quality levels during operations to be consistent with the collected background data."

Indiana Township manager Dan Anderson said the board of supervisors has heard concerns surrounding the fracking well pad, which was approved during public meetings in 2016, though he doesn’t know if it’s too late to stop the drilling. Anderson said that the township relies on Allegheny County’s health department and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to regulate air and water quality. 

Historically, fracking has been largely concentrated in rural areas outside of Allegheny County. But over the past few years, interest in drilling in Pittsburgh’s suburbs has slowly increased. Plum Borough, a suburb northeast of Pittsburgh, voted to allow fracking in about one-third of the municipality late last year. Gas wells have also been drilled in Allegheny County's West Deer, North Fayette and Elizabeth townships, among others.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio. As a contributor to the NPR-Kaiser Health News Member Station Reporting Project on Health Care in the States, Sarah's print and audio reporting frequently appears on NPR and KFF Health News.