Seismic testing to begin in South Strabane

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Representatives from Range Resources on Tuesday presented a plan to conduct seismic testing on township roads to the South Strabane Township supervisors.


Jim Cannon, manager of local government relations, said the seismic testing was the first step in the drilling process.


“We just want to diffuse the mystique of seismic testing,” Cannon said.


Cannon said seismic testing is a common practice that has already been conducted in many surrounding municipalities. “I would venture to say without incident, to date,” he added.


Cannon said Range would be sending trucks along stretches of South Strabane’s roadways as part of a project that hopes to map underground makeup of a large swath of Washington County.


“We’re trying to put together a composite picture of the different strata and what kind of anomalies are there if we, or somebody else, goes down to drill,” Cannon said. “Compared to other operations in the drilling procedure this is pretty benign.”


Trucks grouped into teams of three would use large, vibrating metal plates to send sound waves into the earth to map rock depth and density beneath the surface. The vibrations should not affect building foundations and would not be felt at a distance beyond 50 feet. The procedure would not use any type of “shot” mechanism, another form of testing that uses explosive charges.


“We’re gathering data on the ground,” said Robert Saflin, senior landsman for Range Resources. “It’s a necessary step for the type of ground around the Marcellus shale. We’ll let you know exactly when we’re moving in.”


Saflin said residents around the roads affected would be notified and asked for their permission to test near their properties during the 10-day sweep, which officials said should begin within the next 90 days. The route would take trucks along Floral Hill Drive and Rankin Road in South Strabane Township.


Representatives showed the board a map that depicted the routes of the seismic vehicles, which would test along roads in municipalities in the area including North Strabane, Peters, Nottingham, Carroll, Somerset, Chartiers and the borders of Union and Fallowfield townships.


Supervisors voted to allow the testing to be done on roads near Community Park and the existing road maintenance building. The agreement was virtually the same as those signed by residents with homes along the route with small changes requested by solicitor Thomas Lonich. These included clarifications to the terms “guarantor,” “lessee,” “surface owner” and “mineral owner.”


The motion was passed with a vote of 3-0 with supervisors Ed Mazur and Robert Koman absent.


Lonich said Range did not need permission from the board to conduct the testing, which would use flaggers to restrict traffic to one lane. Range officials acknowledged they gave bonuses to residents who had signed the agreements, but did not disclose the amount or offer a bonus to the township.


Also at the meeting, supervisors voted to increase funding for a project to replace grills in two township parks. Earlier, a motion was passed to purchase grills at a price not to exceed $500, but secretary John Stickle said when the township purchased a similar grill for Billy Bell Park the cost was above that price after shipping was included.


Supervisors unanimously passed a motion to increase the price to $1,462 to cover the costs of transporting the large, 245-pound grilling fixtures from a facility in Missouri.


The board unanimously approved a measure to reauthorize a contract with B&W Insurance for general and liability insurance with a 4 percent cost-of-living increase from last year’s policy.


A motion to purchase treatments for several large, glass windows in the new police building failed to pass after Supervisor Dan Piatt voted no. The window treatments, which Stickle said would allow light in while reducing energy costs, cost $1,373. Supervisors could revisit the issue during the June 25 meeting.


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