One state official suggests gas leaks might prevent the Pawhuska high school from resuming classes this week, leaks in part caused by the school system’s geo-thermal wells drilled to heat the buildings.
Kent Wilkins, Chief of Planning Management Decisions at the Oklahoma Water Resources Board says it’s possible classes won’t be allowed to start until early next week. Work is underway on creating a special system to ventilate the leaking gas away from the school.The final call will be up to the State Fire Marshal.
“He will be the one that will actually make the call when school can actually start and the kids and the teachers can come in the building,” said Wilkins in an interview with OK Energy Today. “Inside the building, extremely low level. Outside the building and of course around the geo-thermal wells and the improperly plugged oil wells, fairly high levels.”
Two sources of the leak have been confirmed. One is two improperly plugged old oil wells on the softball field at the school. The other is the geo-thermal wells drilled in 2011. A total of 28 wells were drilled for the heating and cooling system at the high school. Ten wells exist on the north side of the school and two have been identified as seeping natural gas.
“They were drilled in 2011 or early 2012. We do have reports on those and the reports indicate they encountered some natural gas when they were first drilled,” explained Wilkins who said two wells are leaking. “It appeared they were installed properly but somehow the natural gas in those two have found a way to the surface.”
He said the school first called the Oklahoma Natural Gas company which did tests and confirmed the leaks were not from ONG facilities.
“The Corporation Commission classifies it as stray gas, natural gas that comes up some natural pathway that can’t be explained in any other manner,” added Wilkins.
Listen to Jerry Bohnen’s interview of Kent Wilkins.