Aug. 16–Students pass the front of Bella Romero Academy’s 4-8 campus in January in this file photo. The Greeley-Evans School District 6 announced Wednesday Extraction Oil and Gas will not drill during the school year. (Tribune file photo)
Greeley-Evans School District 6 officials told a group of about 20 parents, children and community members Wednesday night that Extraction Oil and Gas doesn’t plan to drill at its site behind Bella Romero Academy 4-8 campus during the school year.
The site is 1,350 feet from the school and has sparked several protests and a lawsuit.
Deirdre Pilch, superintendent for District 6, told those gathered at Bella Romero Academy on Wednesday the district and its board of education have been clear about their concerns about the facility, and their primary focus is the safety of students.
John Gates, the safety and security chief for the district and the mayor of Greeley, said Extraction told both him and Pilch this week production will be stopped at the site through the school year and will begin again next summer.
For more information about Extraction Oil and Gas site behind the Bella Romero Academy 4-8 campus, or to discuss a concern, call the school at (970) 348-2500. To report an odor concern, call Weld County dispatch or 911.
When a parent expressed concern that the company might not honor the verbal agreement, Gates said if Extraction does begin to drill again, the first step will be communicating with the company and with parents of students at Bella Romero Academy. He also said he doesn’t have reason to believe Extraction has given the district incorrect information at this time.
“We just don’t think it’s going to happen,” he said.
Greg Becker, special systems and hazards technician with the Greeley Fire Department, said the department will continue its routine monitoring of the site, and if residents are concerned operations may have begun again they are welcome to call the school, which will then reach out to him so the fire department can check.
If residents smell an odor and are concerned, they can call Weld County Dispatch or 911, Becker said, and the Greeley Fire Department can go to the area to measure the air quality.
“If Greeley fire tells us the air quality is not safe for children to be in this school, we will not have children in this school,” Pilch said.
Gates said some concrete work or some other movement at the site may occur, but no active drilling operation, according to Extraction. He added the company put a sound wall and 6-foot wood fence in place around the site.
“Part of our concern, whether it was active or not, was that children wouldn’t go back there and hurt themselves,” he said.
Extraction plans to start production again next summer, and if operations are not complete the company has told District 6 it will again stop operating during the school year, Gates said.
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