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UPDATE: Community speaks out against oil drilling

oil drilling interest near mason
Posted at 5:51 AM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 05:52:00-05

MASON, Mich. — A company that wants to drill oil near Mason was not met with open arms at Monday night's city council meeting.

Last month Fox 47 told you that the Mason High School Superintendent asked the state to deny the request to drill.

In his letter posted to Facebook, Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki said, "We urge you to deny this request as the well, which is located within 2,000 feet from Mason High School, contains a high concentration of hydrogen sulfide."

People who showed up at the meeting Monday night also had the same concerns, they are worried about the project being so close to the school.

"Drilling for oil and gas is dangerous. All it will take is one accident, a mechanical failure, a human mistake to have a devastating impact," a community member said.

Many people voiced their concerns, urging the state to Deny the Jordan Exploration Company to drill an oil well near Mason High School.

"How will this not cause a disruption to our children's learning? How are staff suppose to provide quality education to children over the sounds and the smells that this site will surely provide," a community member said.

Ben Brower, the chief operating officer of the Jordan Exploration Company, who attended the meeting, offered some answers to the community about what the company plans to do. He said they are taking the project seriously.

"It really is a safe operation. Things can happen. It's not always that everything works out perfectly, but in terms of taking a risk, we think it's a very small risk and we think it's going to benefit not only the community with taxes but benefit the 130 owners that have leased to us," Brower said.

The company operates over 400 wells in Michigan and hope they will get to have another one in Vevay Township. Council members don't have any control over whether it happens or not but are planning to submit a letter advising against the drilling.

"This particular project is not located within the City of Mason, but it does have a potential impact on the city because of its proximity," said Russell Whipple, mayor of Mason.

As for the company, an application has been submitted to the state to approve the oil and gas well on the southside of Kipp Road located immediately east of the railroad tracks.

Jordan Development Company is in the first stage of the two-part process with the state where they asked for a larger drilling area than normal and for the court to look at the rights of all the landowners inside the area.

“Normally for a Niagrian well of this type you have to have a standard 80-acre unit. In this case, the company has asked for a 120-acre unit and they’ve also asked for a statutory pooling which is when some of the mineral owners inside of a unit have signed mineral leases,” said Adam Wygant, State Geologist and Director of the oil, gas and minerals division of EGLE.

It’s important to note that oil has been obtained from the ground in the Mason area for years. The company also says the fracking method will not be used.

Vevay Township Supervisor Jesse Ramey says the township has no control over whether it happens or not and can only submit comments to the state.

At this point, the state is evaluating the oil company's proposal and hopes to have a decision in the next couple of months on whether it will issue a permit to drill or not.

Jordan Development is from Traverse City.

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