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Perry Township residents concerned over seismic testing to find Marcellus shale

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Perry Township supervisors and residents expressed concerns and asked questions Tuesday about proposed seismic testing considered paving the way for future Marcellus shale gas drilling.

“What is a resident supposed to do if there is damage to their property during the testing?” asked township Supervisor Janet Galla.

Rod White, land representative of McDonald Land Services, a company affiliated with Chevron Appalachia, LLC, suggested that residents take photos of their homes' interiors and exteriors before the seismic testing begins in about four months.

“What about the danger level of this testing?” Galla asked.

White said explosive charges will be used in some of the surveys, but he assured supervisors and the public that there is little danger associated with the seismic testing. He explained that seismic testing uses underground sound waves to map hydrocarbon areas that could be suitable for hydraulic fracturing, which is also known as fracking.

Marcellus shale gas companies drill holes thousands of feet into the ground and pump chemical-laden water into the holes to fracture Marcellus shale to release natural-gas supplies.

Residents on Tuesday asked if the seismic tests will affect well water or the township's water supply.

“I can assure you that the well water and the water supply will not be affected,” White said.

Residents also expressed concerns about what effect the heavy equipment and trucks will have on township roads.

White said each truck weighs about 48,000 pounds.

Supervisors Chairman A.J. Boni said township roads are bonded for up to 80,000 pounds.

He said township supervisors plan to hold public meetings to inform the public about seismic testing.

“We will do the best job we can to inform the public of what is going to take place,” Boni said.

White said he expects the seismic testing to end in Perry Township in late October.

“The purpose of the testing is to identify hydrocarbons so we can look for Marcellus shale,” White said.

Boni said the seismic testing will be performed across Fayette County — not just in Perry Township.

Mikal Ann Zimmerman, a representative of policy, government and public affairs for Chevron, said the seismic surveys will provide Chevron with information necessary to prepare for the drilling process on land it leased from property owners.

“These surveys will show us what we need to see,” Zimmerman said. “It won't be necessary for us to come back to do it again next year.”

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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