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West Newton Council approves seismic testing for natural gas — without trucks

| Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

An oil and gas services company received permission on Monday to install recorders in West Newton to collect seismic data from underground explosions to determine whether the land underneath the 1.1-square-mile borough contains pockets of natural gas.

West Newton Council gave McDonald Land Services LLC of Washington, Okla., the approval to place the battery-powered seismic recorders in the borough, as long as the company does not use vibrating trucks to test for the natural gas. The approval is contingent on the borough signing a contract with McDonald Land Services.

“As long as it keeps the seismic truck out, I can't see anything wrong with it,” Council President George Molovich said.

Randall T. Bridges, project manager for McDonald Land Services, which has been contracted by ION GX Technology of Houston, said the testing in West Newton is part of the company's overall plan to conduct the seismic testing in a 115-square-mile area, from the Greensburg area to the Youghiogheny River. He said they will begin in the Greensburg-Youngwood area and move south toward the river during the next 30 to 45 days.

The plan is to place 3-pound explosive charges 30 feet underground. A person might feel a “bump” one-quarter mile from the explosion, Bridges said.

It is unlikely that the explosive charges would be detonated within West Newton, because the explosions cannot occur within 300 feet of a building, structure or water well.

The seismic recording devices would be placed in a grassy area, just off the street or sidewalk, Bridges said. A small hole would be drilled in the ground to hold the seismometer. The company typically places 180 recording devices within a square mile, Bridges said. A line of seismic recorders would be placed 300 feet apart and 600 feet from the next line of recorders, Bridges said.

In other matters, the borough hired five part-time police officers, who will begin working in late spring or early summer, Chief Gary Indof said.

Timothy Farkas of West Newton was the first to be hired, and granted seniority over the other officers hired moments later.

Jennifer Kominsky was the second to be hired, followed by Andrew Jacobs, Phillip Musa and Zachary Gustafson.

Indof said the order in which the officers were hired by council was based on how well they did in the job interviews.

The hourly rates paid to the officers varies, depending on how many hours they work, Indof said.

Before hiring the officers, council accepted the resignation of Bryan Bobnar as a part-time police officer, effective April 14. Bobnar notified council he had been hired by California University of Pennsylvania's police department.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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