Consol hearing scheduled tonight on Allegheny County-owned land drilling

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Findlay residents will get another chance tonight to hear about plans for gas drilling at Pittsburgh International Airport, with more discussion expected about Consol Energy’s emergency response plan and environmental assessment.

A public hearing on Consol’s plan to drill for natural gas on county-owned lands near the airport will start at 7 p.m. at the Findlay Township Activity Center, 310 Main St. in Imperial.

Township manager Gary Klingman said Consol will give another presentation at the meeting, and members of the Findlay board of supervisors, township staff and members of the public will be able to ask questions and comment.

The hearing is a continuation of a similar meeting held last month. About 200 residents, mostly from Findlay, gathered at the activity center Feb. 20 for the hearing, one of the requirements before Consol can secure conditional use permits from Findlay for its drilling plans.

The company has already received preliminary approval from Findlay’s zoning board for its plan, which calls for the construction of six well pads, with at least 45 Marcellus Shale wells and three water impoundments.

Much of the Feb. 20 meeting consisted of a presentation from Consol officials on their drilling plan. Residents who spoke after the Consol presentation asked questions and voiced concerns, mainly about safety and noise-related issues.

Findlay’s three-person board of supervisors opted to continue the hearing to tonight, saying they wanted to review the environmental assessment and emergency response plan prior to making a decision.

The environmental assessment — Mr. Klingman described it as “five binders full of information” — was released Feb. 21. It is available for public review through March 22 at multiple locations, including Pittsburgh International Airport, the Findlay municipal building and the Moon municipal building.

Consol submitted its 103-page emergency response plan to Findlay last week, Mr. Klingman said.

“It’s pretty thorough,” he said. The document lists response protocol for incidents ranging from security breaches at drilling sites to employee injury to blowouts.

By the end of tonight’s meeting, Mr. Klingman said, the township supervisors will have two options: to continue the hearing to a third evening or to close it. He said he doubted the meeting would end with a decision about the conditional use permits, however, because the decision would be a written one, and he said it can be made up to 45 days from the close of the hearing.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707.

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