Hempfield seismic testing hearing set
A federal judge will hold a hearing on Wednesday on whether to issue an injunction against Hempfield for refusing to allow a Texas company from conducting seismic testings on township roads and rights of way in a search for natural gas deposits.
Township attorney Les Mlakar said the hearing will be at 2:30 p.m. in the federal courthouse in Pittsburgh.
Ion Geophysical Corp. of Houston is suing the township over its refusal to allow the firm to conduct underground tests for potential natural gas wells in certain areas. Hempfield officials say they have no objection to Ion conducting tests on private property as long as it doesn't involve township roads or public rights of way.
Ion argues that Hempfield doesn't have an ordinance regulating testing, so it has no legal authority to stop the company.
Company officials said they have contracts with private property owners to begin testing on April 20. They want a federal judge to allow the company to conduct the tests and bar the township from interfering.
Mlakar declined comment on the lawsuit.
Doug Weimer, chairman of the township board of supervisors, said in doing seismic testing, “thumper trucks” use low-frequency sound waves to make small earthquakes that could jolt storm sewers, utility, water and sewer lines the township shares with the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County and the Hempfield Township Municipal Authority.
“We're not agreeing to allow them to test on public rights of way and public infrastructure because we don't see any public benefit,” he said.
Attorney Scott Avolio, who represents the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, said the authority fears damage to the county water system in Hempfield.
“This is one of the areas that has not been properly addressed by seismic testing,” he said.
In a similar case, Commonwealth Court in January issued an injunction against officials in four Beaver County communities prohibiting them from interfering with seismic testing. The municipalities tried to prevent Seidel Data Ltd. of Texas from conducting tests for natural gas deposits.
The state has issued 14 drilling permits for 13 sites in Hempfield but only seven wells are under development, according to the state.
The amount of seismic testing done in Southwestern Pennsylvania is increasing, according to natural gas companies.
Ion is conducting tests in Murrysville. Consol Energy, Range Resources and EQT are among other energy companies conducting tests in the region. Consol conducted testing near the Pittsburgh International Airport in Findlay, North Fayette and Moon townships and Independence Township in Beaver County as part of a plan to drill 47 gas wells in July.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Missing Southwest Greensburg man found dead at crash site in Bell
- Former Ligonier Township supervisor accused of abusing position, viewing porn on the job
- The real Captain Phillips brings story of piracy to St. Vincent College
- Corbett rips Wolf tax proposals during Hempfield campaign stop
- Mt. Pleasant man injured when tractor hit by vehicle
- Laurel Mountain State Park ski plans will go to Ligonier Township supervisors
- $10K grants will help people purchase homes in Monessen
- Records access charges will rise in Westmoreland County
- Physicist found joy in family, friends, work, wine
- WCCC changes dual-enrollment policy
- Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County upgrades emergency communications plan