Seismic testing to cause traffic, noise increase in Clinton area

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Findlay residents will notice increased truck traffic and noise next month when a company mapping the Marcellus Shale starts extensive seismic testing.

Seitel Data Ltd. of Houston, working for natural gas driller Range Resources, plans to use vibration trucks and explosives in the Clinton area to create shock waves and map underground shale formations.

Activities will affect 22 township-owned roads, state roads such as Route 30, Clinton Community Park, the municipal building site and private properties, Findlay planning director Chris Caruso said.

Testing will occur in September, and possibly continue in October, throughout the Clinton village district and in the northwest part of the township, from the Flaugherty Run area to the Washington County line, he said.

Mr. Caruso said Act 13 -- the state's Marcellus Shale law -- allows seismic testing.

"We can't stop it, so we have [local regulations] to hopefully protect as much as we can in the township," he said.

Findlay has granted permission for seismic testing on 1.64 acres of the Route 30 municipal building property, and for vibration trucks, or "thumper" trucks, to travel on about 20 miles of township roads. The trucks repeatedly drop heavy weights onto the ground to create sound waves that penetrate the earth.

Thumper trucks -- but not explosives -- will be allowed in the 57-acre Clinton Community Park, Mr. Caruso said. Trucks will enter park roads and woodlands but will steer clear of playgrounds and ballfields, he said.

The state must issue separate permits for thumper trucks on state-owned roads, Mr. Caruso said.

Seitel representatives said in May that the project would involve about 15,000 vibration points -- generated by thumper trucks and by explosives placed in 30-foot-deep shot holes -- plus about 20,000 geophones to receive the sound waves, which are recorded and processed to create maps of shale formations.

The company also wanted to test in adjacent areas of Moon and Beaver County.

In Findlay, Seitel workers already have been performing preliminary surveys and securing permission from private property owners to conduct seismic testing on their lands, Mr. Caruso said.

The biggest thing property owners should know is they do not have to allow seismic testers on their land, he said.

"It's up to each individual resident," Mr. Caruso said.

On July 25, township supervisors issued permits to Seitel and reached a negotiated agreement stating the requirements the firm must comply with. The deal says Seitel must follow the township's geophysical/seismic testing ordinance unless otherwise specified. The agreement contains some variances from established regulations.

Seitel must post a $50,000 bond for road damage rather than the $100,000 amount listed in the ordinance. An additional bond is being considered to cover potential damage to the public park.

At least 10 business days before any testing, Seitel must notify property owners within 250 feet.

Seitel must offer free pre-test and post-test inspections of homes, structures and water wells at the request of people whose property will be subjected to certain vibration levels.

The firm must notify property owners of the availability of these free inspections but is not required to include that inspection information in newspaper advertisements.

Work hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, excluding holidays.

In May, supervisors approved plans for Range Resources-Appalachia LLC to drill three natural gas wells on private, rural land on Clinton-Frankfort Road.

The township is expected eventually to hear plans for Consol Energy Inc. to drill at Pittsburgh International Airport in Findlay. Allegheny County has a $500 million deal with Consol to drill about 50 wells in the 9,000 acres around the airport.


Andrea Iglar, freelance writer:


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