TOWANDA - During construction of the MARC I gas transmission line this year, measures will be taken to shield students in the Wyalusing Valley Elementary School from noise and to protect the school district's water well from contamination, representatives from companies involved in the construction told the Wyalusing School Board on Thursday.

The 30-inch wide, 39-mile-long pipeline will be installed 897 feet from the elementary school, said Mike LeRose, director of engineering at Central New York Oil & Gas, who spoke Thursday at an informational meeting on the pipeline, hosted by the Wyalusing School Board.

Workers will spend two months boring beneath the Susquehanna River near the Wyalusing School District's campus, and installing the pipeline 40 feet underneath the bottom of the river, said Ted Foltz of Michels Directional Drilling.

Noise-producing equipment used to drill underneath the river will be located 875 feet from the elementary school, said Paul Kiteck, a noise consultant hired by Central New York Oil & Gas, which is building the pipeline.

To shield the school from the noise, sound barriers, 10 to 16 feet high, will be installed around the drilling equipment, Kiteck said.

Just outside the elementary school's walls, "we anticipate the noise" from the drilling "will be not greater than or even lower than the ambient noise" that exists there now, Kiteck said.

Work to drill under the river could start in February or early March, Foltz said.

All of the drilling equipment will be in a containment areas, in case any leaking of fluids occurs, according to Central New York Oil & Gas. There will also be a full-time environmental inspector at the drilling site, the company said.

The well that produces drinking water for the elementary school and the Wyalusing Valley Junior/Senior High School is located behind the elementary school.

Central New York Oil & Gas officials said the pipeline would not pose any danger to students in the school, as it will be designed to meet federal regulations.

Under federal regulations, Central New York Oil & Gas will be required to make regular inspections of the pipeline to look for corrosion and the construction of anything in a 50-foot right of way surrounding the pipeline, LeRose said in an interview after the meeting.

Construction of buildings cannot occur within the 50-foot right-of-way, he said.

LeRose said he has seen schools located much closer to gas transmission lines the Wyalusing Valley Elementary School will be.

At the Bradford County commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Standing Stone Township resident Diane Ward had said that Central New York Oil & Gas had failed to include information about the existence of the Wyalusing Valley Elementary School in the documents it submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission when it asked FERC to approve the pipeline. For example, she said, when FERC approved the pipeline in November, it was using a map that was provided to it by CNYO&G which did have the elementary school marked on it, she said.

But representatives of Central New York Oil & Gas said at Thursday's meeting that FERC was aware of the existence of the elementary school before it approved the pipeline, and had not raised concerns about the location of the school.

Randy Parker, construction manager for Central New York Oil & Gas, said that a project manager from FERC had seen the Wyalusing Valley Elementary School under construction, months before FERC approved the pipeline.

The Wyalusing Valley Elementary School opened about three months before the pipeline was approved by FERC.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.