Methane found in Pawhuska Schools’ geothermal wells; agencies working on solution
Team Radio Marketing Group - August 16, 2017 9:27 am
UPDATE: PAWHUSKA SCHOOLS CLOSED THURSDAY AND FRIDAY.
From the Superintendent: The Pawhuska Public Schools takes the safety of our staff and students very seriously. All schools, PreK through 12, will be closed on, Thursday and Friday, August 17th and 18th. Due to the gas purge investigation that is taking place on our campus. Updates with further information will be posted on a day to day basis on our facebook page and on our website at pawhuskadistrict.org. Tonight’s back to school night for both Elementary and Indian Camp will be rescheduled.
Pawhuska Public Schools, along with several state, federal and local agencies, are working to remediate a gas purge found on the grounds of the school district’s campus in Pawhuska.
Early Tuesday morning, the schools and several agencies, including the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Oklahoma Corporation Commission, Oklahoma Emergency Management, Oklahoma State Fire Marshal, EPA – Region 6, and Bureau of Indian Affairs conducted a conference call to discuss an immediate and appropriate plan to ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff, and school visitors.
Cole Perryman, spokesman for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, said several geothermal wells on the campus are leaking methane.
“The Federal and State agencies with jurisdictional authority have determined that the first step to ensuring the public’s safety on-site will be to plug the impacted geothermal wells in the area, which are apparently leaking methane,” Perryman said.
He said the Water Resources Board is the agency with authority over water well drillers, and has taken the responsibility of finding a licensed well driller to cap the wells.
“The OWRB will now work with both the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and Oklahoma Emergency Management to properly and safely plug the school’s impacted geothermal wells,” Perryman said. “Again, ensuring the safety of Pawhuska’s students, faculty, and staff is of the utmost importance to school officials, as well as the Federal and State agencies that are cooperating closely to address the issue.
“The local school district is very voluntarily working to make sure everyone stays safe,” Perryman said.
The involved agencies were holding another conference call Wednesday morning to continue work on the remediation plan.
The first day of school for Pawhuska students was scheduled for Thursday. An announcement on whether classes will resume then has not been made.
Superintendent Janet Neufeld for Pawhuska Public Schools issued a press release on the issue.
“The Pawhuska School District takes the safety of its students and staff very seriously and does
everything it can to provide a safe learning environment. The district has discovered a gas purge
site that is close to one of our school buildings.
“The school district is working closely with the Governor’s Office, the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, EPA Region 6, the BIA, and the State Fire Marshal to determine the safety of our school site and corresponding guidance from
officials on what actions will be taken regarding the well.”