Mason City Council opposes plan to drill for oil near high school

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Mason City Council has raised concern regarding a permit request from Jordan Development to drill for oil. The council said the drilling well would interfere with area businesses, residences and Mason High School.

Jordan Development wants to place a drilling wellhead in a field on Kipp Road. The wellhead would be between Gestamp Mason LLC and King Motors.

The city cannot deny a permit to Jordan Development. City Manager Deborah Stuart said the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE, would make the ultimate decision in allowing Jordan Development to drill in the area. 

The City Council has written a letter to EGLE.

Mason has other areas of oil and gas processing, such as a facility on Jewett Road, approximately 4,000 feet from the nearest residence. 

The City Council’s letter said, “the location of the wellhead is expected to be less than 300 feet in two directions from the corporate boundary of the City of Mason, approximately 1,000 feet from the athletic fields at Mason High School, approximately 1,500 feet from the Mason High School Building, approximately 2,000 feet from several homes.”

According to the application permit, the proposed well is expected to produce “sour oil or gas.” This oil or gas would contain a relatively high concentration of hydrogen sulfide gas. The City Council said this gas is known to produce an odor at low concentrations. 

This odorous gas could decrease the quality of life for those who are exposed, according to the City Council.

Mason High School Principal Lance Delbridge said it’s hard to know what impact the drilling would have on the high school. If drilling is approved, he said the high school would have to come up with solutions to any odors or health concerns. 

“We have a large number of outside events and we are concerned for the potential health issues that may arise as a result of the drilling,” Delbridge said.

The City Council explained that the high school’s athletic facilities, Rayner Park and Ingham County Fairgrounds are all downwind from the proposed well and could be affected by the odorous gas.

“The biggest issue is just the location and its proximity to city limits and to the school, those are our biggest concerns. I mean, we have drilling all around Mason, so we’re not concerned about drilling overall,” Stuart said. “It’s just proximity to areas that … are high density and also, you know, with children nearby.”

If the permit is approved, the City Council has requested that the timing and schedule of drilling is planned to minimally impact activities at the high school and fairgrounds.

The City Council also requests, if the permit is approved, residents are given information about whom to contact if odors are present.

“The state is a permitting authority and so all we can do is express concerns and they have the ultimate decision,” Stuart said.

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