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Officials Say Airport Drilling Won't Interfere With Flights

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The planes will continue to take off and land at Pittsburgh International Airport -- but they'll have company.

Dotted about the property in the coming years will be six well pads -- with a total of 47 Marcellus wells. But CONSOL Energy says they won't interfere with airport operations.

"We've all agreed that these well pads are in the best location they can be, not compromising any safety whatsoever," said Joseph Zoka with CONSOL.

In announcing the citing of the well pads, gas and water pipelines and three frack ponds -- CONSOL and county officials laid out the steps they've taken to curb the safety and environmental impacts.

"We want this to be a very open and transparent process," Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

As part on environmental assessment of the project required by the Federal Aviation Administration -- the county is conducting sound and air impact studies, seismic tests and coming up with a public safety response plan in the event of an accident.

"I can assure you that we have been working diligently an collaboratively to develop a drilling plan that we believe will let us develop the oil and natural gas at the airport efficiently while minimizing environmental and airport operational impacts," said Craig Neal with CONSOL.

"The public can rest assured there's not going to be an environmental or public safety impact," Fitzgerald said. "I think the public can rest assured that this is going to be monitored by the DEP, the EPA, the FAA and all regulatory agencies."

The county says it's leaving no stone unturned with the environmental assessment but concedes that with all forms of energy extraction there are dangers. But it says that in this case the benefits far outweigh the risks.

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