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Findlay neighbors want drilling site at airport moved

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By Bobby Kerlik
Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A group of Findlay residents wants Consol Energy to move the location of one of its proposed drilling sites at Pittsburgh International Airport, saying it's too close to their homes and could send air toxins into their neighborhood.

Homeowners from the Imperial Pointe development on Thursday told the Allegheny County Airport Authority that they want proposed well site No. 2 moved back to be at least a half mile from their houses.

“We want to feel more confident in our health and safety. We understand it meets the (state) requirement and that it's a great deal (for the airport). But we have all the risk because we live the closest,” said Stacy Faulk, 44. “If it's safe, let's have an air quality monitoring device installed. The closest one is in South Fayette, and that's unacceptable.”

Consol spokeswoman Kate O'Donovan said the company would follow safety and environmental regulations.

“We have had extensive dialogue with a wide variety of stakeholders throughout this process, and have paid specific attention to the residents of Imperial Pointe to better understand their questions and concerns,” O'Donovan said in a statement.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister said the law requires a 500-foot setback between drilling sites and homes. Findlay residents said documents show the site is 1,180 feet from Imperial Pointe. A half-mile setback would be 2,640 feet.

Allegheny County officials hope to raise about $500 million through an agreement with Consol, which would use six well pads to drill 47 wells on airport property. County Council in February agreed to lease more than 9,000 acres surrounding the airport, with the money earmarked to reduce gate fees to attract flights, make airport improvements and finance land development.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who pushed for the drilling deal, said the county would look into their concerns.

Any negotiations on a change from Consol will be up to residents to pursue, said Chris Caruso, assistant manager at Findlay. Consol has complied with requirements in the township's municipal rules and the state's oil and gas rules, he said.

Airport Authority Chairman David Minnotte told the people who addressed the board that they would get a written response.

A spokeswoman for state Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, who is a member of the board, said he has been working to facilitate conversations between the airport authority and the residents. The Findlay residents said Smith helped arrange a meeting between them and Consol. They expect to meet with Consol officials again on Monday.

“We don't understand why Consol wouldn't do this,” said Findlay resident Bob Sterner, 52.

Staff writer Tim Puko contributed to this report. Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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