Drilling rig next to schools causes concerns

Published: Updated:

CAPE CORAL, Fla. – Cape Coral is planning to dispose waste water using an injection well located next to a local high school.

Some parents are wondering if their children in Southwest Cape Coral are safe while the “Keep out” signs appear to have no effect on kids using its construction site as a shortcut.

John Buetow picks up his daughter from Gulf Elementary School every afternoon. He said he became concerned when he noticed a big drilling rig emerge across the street.

“I would think if you are going to do this, do it in a non-populated area. Don’t do it right next to our children,” Buetow said.

The water disposal project was contracted by Cape Coral and involves drilling 3,000 feet underground. The purpose of the project is to get rid of unused reclaimed waste water and byproducts from a nearby water treatment plant, city officials said.

There are three similar wells currently in use throughout Cape Coral, authorities said. More than 150 wells exist in South Florida. The byproducts are safe and will not impact water supply, city officials said.

“The drilling operation uses naturally occurring clays. There are no hazardous chemicals used,” and Jody Sorrels of Cape Coral said.

But construction at the new Cape Coral site has many residents questioning the site’s security. Students from Ida Baker High School were seen hopping a fence to cut through the construction site.

“That’s a risk. That’s a liability,” Buetow said. “I mean, granted, the students were trespassing, but if they have no system set up to prevent that they’re leaving themselves open.”

City officials said they are aware of students trespassing.

“We’re taking measures to address that,” Sorrels said. “We’re going to contact the principals of the schools. We’ve also increased our security at the gates and we’re going to post additional signs.”

It was cost effective to put the drilling site close to several area schools because the new well will serve as backup to an existing well nearby, officials said.

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