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Work to start soon on 4 well projects in South Buffalo

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By Sarah Kovash
Monday, July 16, 2012, 11:24 p.m.

Construction of four new natural gas wells in South Buffalo should begin this summer.

Township supervisors approved the new wells Monday.

One will be built by MDS Energy Development of Kittanning and three by XTO Energy.

Township officials held a public hearing for both companies before Monday's Supervisors meeting to hear construction plans for the wells and take questions from residents.

Only one resident was in attendance and no questions were asked.

MDS engineer Randy Morris laid out plans for a shallow vertical well for which construction should start by the end of August.

The 3,500-foot deep well will be built off Nicholson Run Road in an industrial zone.

Morris said noise disturbances will be minimal, mainly coming from a compressor and the drill which will be used for only about three days.

"There's a humming noise while they're drilling," Morris said. "That's really all the noise that's being made."

XTO officials also said they plan to start construction on a well pad -- three wells and a fracking pond for Marcellus shale -- at the end of August.

Construction on the well pad will go on 24 hours a day and each well will take three to four weeks to complete.

"Once that's done, that'll be the end of the really heavy construction period," said Shawn Gallagher, an attorney for XTO.

Workers will access the drill site via Scenic Drive, but XTO officials told supervisors that they won't block the road and plan to use a flag man at the intersection of Scenic Drive and Iron Bridge Road to help keep traffic moving.

"Once school starts, the residents are going to need more access," supervisor Glenn Heilman said.

Once built, the site will be lit at night, but only two residential properties abut the site.

The company should finish drilling by the end of the year.

Supervisors also gave the OK to ION GX Technology to conduct seismic testing for existing natural gas pipelines and wells.

The company plans to do testing in the township at the beginning of next year.

Battle over road

Township officials are still trying to get approval from PennDOT to update White Rock Road.

Since 2001, supervisors have wanted to update the former railroad bridge so that emergency vehicles that exceed the 10-ton weight limit can use the road, instead of a longer route via Scenic Drive.

In 2007, the township received $102,000 from PennDOT to update the road.

However, after hearing that there may be Native American artifacts located near the road, PennDOT required the township to pay for a geological study.

Supervisors spent $40,000 on a study which PennDOT rejected as being insufficient, halting the road project.

"It just seems like we're batting balls here back and forth," Supervisor Terry Van Dyke said.

Supervisors are trying to figure out how to go forward with the project without completely depleting the project money.

"It's getting tough," Supervisor Glenn Heilman said.

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