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Westmoreland

Penn-Trafford schools reject air monitoring offer from anti-fracking group

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 12:48 a.m.

The Penn-Trafford School District does not plan to accept an offer from a citizen's group of free air monitoring at its schools.

Protect PT, which opposes fracking, offered free monitoring for particulate matter and chemical pollution via the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project and the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council.

At the board's meeting Monday night, solicitor Michael Brungo read a statement saying the district will not take part in the monitoring.

Brungo's statement referenced the terms of a December settlement between Penn Township officials and Apex Energy, the drilling company that has proposed the majority of fracking wells in the township. Those terms include Apex paying for a third party, mutually agreed upon by Apex and the township, to perform air- and sound-quality monitoring during the construction, drilling and completion of pad operations.

Protect PT President Gillian Graber said she did her best to convince district officials that independent monitoring would be a benefit.

“I did about an hourlong presentation to a school district subcommittee,” Graber said. “Most of our members are also parents, so it was kind of a natural thing for us to want to speak with the school board about this.”

Protect PT member Danielle LeJeune of Penn Township, the parent of an elementary school student, said she didn't understand why the district doesn't appear to want a free program aimed at protecting the health and safety of children, educators and staff.

“I am disappointed to hear that the P-T school board has chosen not to put forth every protection available for our children,” LeJeune said. “A free monitoring program offered to the school was turned down, and they plan to rely on the gas companies to self-monitor and self-report on a continuous basis?

“As heavy industry is moving into our township, close to homes and schools, I think being proactive is the smartest approach,” she said.

Graber said Protect PT is looking out for some of the township's most vulnerable residents.

“We just thought that, as parents, we'd like some extra protection for our kids,” she said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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