EQT proposes seismic testing in Peters

Published Apr 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm (Updated Apr 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm)

Although there are no natural gas drilling applications in Peters Township, representatives of EQT and two seismic testing companies appeared before Council April 22 to outline proposed plans to conduct seismic tests in the eastern part of the township.

EQT, a drilling company located in South Strabane Township, is expected to request tests on McClelland Road and in portions of the village of Hackett.

According to Ronnie Keith McKay, project manager for Geokinetics in Houston, Texas, the process involves a 47,000-pound vehicle, about the size of a garbage truck, that would travel along specified roads sending vibration energy through the ground. The process requires permits from the road owners. While the eastern portion of McClelland Road is owned by the township as are the road within Hackett, surrounding roads like Church Hill and Venetia roads are state owned and would require a state permit.

No application for a permit has been submitted with McKay calling the April 22 presentation purely informational.

The purpose of the seismic testing is to determine where the best place is to drill for natural gas.

Dynamite placed in 20-foot deep drilled holes would be used to create vibration through the earth only in locations where the vibration truck could not reach because of topography. If Geokinetics would need to enter private property, McKay said the owner would be notified to seek permission. In areas where the truck could go, houses and other buildings along the roads would be closely monitored to ensure no damage would occur, McKay said.

Doug Garrett, permit agent for Cougar Land Services, also in Houston, Texas, said only a small portion of the township would be affected.

The goal, McKay said, is to only use the vibrating truck on the roads.

Michael Silvestri, township manager, said the area under consideration for the testing has shallow coal mines that occasionally blow out, including one in Hackett that has a pipe above ground to drain water. He said some of the orphan mines are only 10-, 20- or 40-feet below the surface.

Township engineer Mark Zemaitis said he would check the weight limit on the township roads to ensure the large truck would not damage the road surfaces.

McKay said the process could take about two weeks.

When asked if the township had any recourse to prohibit or to protect township-owned roads, Solicitor William Johnson said, “Clearly, we have a right to regulate our roads.”

Once the testing is complete, the area would be mapped showing houses, buildings and other structures. Finleyville Cemetery is in the area. However, McKay said only cemetery roads would be used for the testing.

“This is very early in the process,” McKay said.

Councilman Robert Lewis said he had read about other locations where seismic testing is conducted that resulted in loud ATVs and property damage such as fences knocked down and unsightly brush.

Johnson said any complaints would be left up to the private property owners with McKay adding Geokinetics does not conduct heavy clearing and ATVs are not used.

No time was given as to when testing could begin.

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