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Seismic surveys presentation to be given at Dunbar Township meeting

By The Daily Courier
Thursday, May 2, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

McDonald Land Associates, an Oklahoma-based firm that does seismic surveys for Marcellus shale natural gas drilling sites, will do a presentation at the Dunbar Township meeting Thursday.

John Tabaj, chairman of the Dunbar Township Supervisors, said supervisors are expecting an overflow crowd for the 7 p.m. meeting.

Tabaj said there are many questions among township residents concerning the process now going on.

And some residents are worried about potential damage to their homes and properties.

Tabaj said the supervisors have no control over the process since their function is work on township roads. The surveys and drilling operations are controlled by the land owners and the company.

Seismic surveys will begin in autumn to determine the best locations for future Marcellus shale gas drilling operations.

McDonald is sending letters to property owners who agreed to the surveys, notifying them of the procedures that will take place.

The survey will take place in six phases in mid-October until the survey is complete in that area.

During the first step, a company named Pathfinder will take an initial access survey to locate all items of interest that will be avoided on each property, including pipelines, wells, natural springs, wetlands, buildings, ponds, etc. Pathfinder will then survey source and receiver locations.

“If allowed by permit and only if necessary, areas with heavy brush will be cleared: however, heavy timber will be untouched,” the letter read.

Surveyors will travel to each property in pickup trucks and will drive between properties in small all-purpose utility vehicles while using GPS and/or other equipment to survey source and receiver locations. Each position will be marked with a numbered wooden lathe, and colored ribbons will be used to mark the path from point to point that the crew will follow. The ribbon flagging serves as a visual aid for navigation of field personnel during operations.

During the third phase, Omni Energy Services will use small rubber-tracked drilling rigs to drill and load sound source holes. The holes will be loaded with a small charge, then back-filled with gravel in accordance with state Department of Environmental Protection regulations.

A third company, CGGVeritas, will complete the fourth through sixth steps, according to the letter.

“Receiver equipment will be delivered by a helicopter via long lines to each location on the properties in fluorescent orange duffel bags, containing geophones and receiver boxes,” the letter stated. “Geophones are listening devices that receive the reflection of the sound signal, storing it in the receiver box.”

The source will be detonated one at a time, creating reflective sound waves. In the event that drilled source holes cannot be used exclusively in an area, it will be necessary to use Vibroseis trucks for source locations. In that case, the trucks will travel along specific roads to introduce the reflective sound waves through a series of vibrations.

Once the operations portion of the project for a permit is concluded, the property will be cleared of any remaining equipment and materials.

“We are committed to conducting this survey safely and with respect for your property,” the letter read.

A permitted agent will be available at 724-439-3500 to address any questions or concerns associated with the seismic survey.



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