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Mars Area drilling foes seek school 'safe zone'

| Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 11:00 p.m.

Concerned parents packed the Mars Area School board meeting room on Tuesday to push for establishment of a “safe zone” around school district property that would bar Marcellus shale drilling.

“The group and supporters are not tired. We are committed to protecting our children. The only way to truly mitigate risk is to not drill wells near our children,” said Amy Nassif, spokesperson for the Mars Parent Group.

Rex Energy has submitted applications to the state Department of Environmental Protection to drill wells on farmland near Mars Area schools.

The parent group maintains the proposed wells in Middlesex would be within a half-mile of the schools,

“It does not belong this close to schools,” Nassif said.

The company says they would be about three-quarters of a mile away in Adams.

State law requires a 500-foot buffer between school buildings and drilling sites.

The parent group scheduled a meeting on Tuesday afternoon with DEP representatives and Rex Energy to express their concerns.

DEP has said has said that it didn't plan to rule on the drilling application until after the meeting.

On March 11, the school board rejected a proposal from Rex Energy to drill beneath district property.

The group has been collecting online donations through the Clean Air Council in Philadelphia to challenge Middlesex's zoning of the site in court.

Akasha Chamberlain is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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