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Seismic test canvassing on hold in Jefferson Hills

| Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 4:41 a.m.

Canvassing for property owners to agree to seismic testing remains on hold until a public meeting takes place in Jefferson Hills.

Officials said on Monday that EQT Corp., Geokinetics and Cougar Land Services will conduct a town hall meeting on May 23 in the Floreffe area.

A time and place were not determined, though it was suggested at Monday's council meeting that it could be a 6 p.m. session at the Floreffe fire hall.

They said efforts to get testing agreements will center on the Floreffe area, near the borough's Beedle Park.

“We have a verbal agreement that they will be keeping us advised,” said borough finance director Andrew McCreery, who is acting manager during Douglas Arndt's absence.

Borough officials received assurances that maps of the areas to be surveyed are being revised.

Resident Anita Barkin said an earlier EQT meeting in council chambers was “fraught with misrepresentation.”

“Will there be an opportunity for people to hear the possible negative impacts?” Barkin asked.

“It's going to be a town meeting,” council president Christopher King said. “I think any interested parties should be able to attend.”

Former borough resident Lisa Graves-Marcucci said a possible negative impact is the “sleep time” of up to 120 days the state Department of Environmental Protection allows for 2.2-pound dynamite charges that would be placed in shot holes.

“During this ‘sleep time' the set charges are not under 24-hour surveillance,” Graves-Marcucci said.

McCreery said the shot holes are being used only in areas where heavy Vibroseis trucks can't be used to take the three-dimensional surveys.

Graves-Marcucci, a former Jefferson Hills Environmental Quality Board member now living in Pleasant Hills, is asking federal investigators to look into the DEP's blanket permits for seismic testing.

She said such permits will allow 20,000 charges in Fayette and Greene counties and 1,500 in the Jefferson Hills area.

She asked the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to look into the permits.

“They said they would investigate and get back to me,” Graves-Marcucci said.

No EQT, Geokinetics or Cougar Land Services officials attended Monday's meeting, though they were represented at last week's council workshop.

“We agreed once again, as a courtesy, to hold off permitting until council members had the opportunity to have a firsthand look at maps and plans in order to better understand the process in its entirety,” EQT Corp. spokeswoman Linda Robertson said last week.

King said council is considering changes to the borough's pending oil and gas ordinance that could encompass seismic testing. Graves-Marcucci said she gave borough officials a copy of an ordinance from Aliquippa.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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