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Texas-based company to seismically map Export's geology

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By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 2:15 p.m.

Export officials will allow a Texas-based geophysics company to place monitoring devices along borough roads next year as part of a countywide project to seismically map the region's geology.

Ion GX Technology plans to conduct seismic testing for Marcellus-shale drilling in March on property owned by DuraBond, Solicitor Wes Long said. Vibrating machines that are used to cause seismic waves will be placed in the ground on DuraBond property, and Ion will place sensors along roads throughout the borough.

“There's no intrusiveness into the borough's roadways, stormwater lines, sewer lines or electrical lines,” Long said. “They're not actually doing anything on our property.”

Council voted 4-0 to allow the sensors. Councilmen Stanley Mahinske, Lou McQuaide and Clay Soles were absent.

Seismic testing enables drilling companies to determine which areas are suitable for hydraulic fracturing, the process by which natural gas is extracted during Marcellus shale drilling. Using seismic waves, explosives or vibrating machines, companies are able to “map” where pockets of gas are located. The process is used by drilling companies to determine if drilling would be profitable under a particular property.

Representatives from Ion said the company will place 39 roadside sensors in the borough. The data recovered will be sold to drilling companies.

“When it comes time to do the testing, we gather information,” said Joe Brown, a representative from Ion. “There's no drilling. We don't put out any energy at all.”

Initially, Long said, the company wanted to set up vibrating machines on borough property and along borough roads. Long rejected that idea.

Ion will not pay any fees to Export to complete the testing, unlike in neighboring Murrysville where a seismic testing permit costs $500.

Ion has been approaching property owners throughout Westmoreland County – including those in Delmont and some along the northern and eastern borders of Murrysville. Ion, along with Cougar Land Services, is mapping about 102 square miles of land in the county. It is estimated that about 10,000 property owners throughout the county have received requests for testing.

“We can not tell people what they can do, generally speaking, on their own private properties,” Long said. “It is my understanding that there will be no vibrators or shot-laying holes other than on Durabond property, though.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or

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