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Dunbar family loses water after seismic test

| Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010

A Fayette County family suspects underground mapping for the oil and gas industry destroyed their well, but the company that is conducting the seismic mapping says it is unlikely the two are connected.

Julia Hair said she and her husband, James, their two adult children and 20-month-old grandson lost water hours after she heard a loud explosion and felt her house on Gettemy Road in Dunbar Township shake on Oct. 22.

"It was a big boom," Hair said. "The house shook. The next day, we didn't have water."

A friend loaned the family a 150-gallon tank to truck water to their home. In addition, Hair said she is using bottled water.

Hair said a Texas-based company, Global Geophysical Services, is setting off small explosives as part of underground seismic mapping. She said she agreed to let the company run cables on her 15-acre plot as part of the testing, but was unaware explosives were part of the process.

She said she did not immediately contact Global after she lost water because she wanted the contractor who drilled the well in 1997 to examine it first.

"We waited because I didn't want to blame them for something," Hair said.

The contractor, she said, determined the well had collapsed. Hair said she then contacted Global Geophysical, which according to its attorney has so far found nothing to indicate it was at fault.

"If we caused it, we'll fix it," said Christopher Graham, senior vice president and general counsel for Global Geophysical. "We want to be a responsible neighbor."

Graham said Global reviewed measurements it took during the testing and found that none of the explosive charges were strong enough to have damaged a well.

"The charts show everything was done outside the required distance, by a long shot, of either houses or wells," Graham said, noting the company is in compliance with standards set by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

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