The crowd at the Damascus Township Supervisors’ meeting spilled into the next room, with many there to hear about the seismic testing being done alongside roadways.


The crowd at the Damascus Township Supervisors’ meeting spilled into the next room, with many there to hear about the seismic testing being done alongside roadways.
Sound waves are piercing deep underground to help Newfield Exploration Company know what areas are most practical and economical to drill for natural gas. They have hired Dawson Geophysical Inc. of Midland, TX, to perform the tests along right-of-ways of roads in Damascus and Manchester townships, where properties are under lease to Newfield.
Several people spoke up about property rights or concerns that the vibrations could affect foundations or water wells. A common complaint was that they wish they had some forewarning before coming home and finding little flags along the roadway and the  giant trucks moving in for the tests.
Don Torres, representing Newfield, stressed that there was no plan to use dynamite or any explosive to make the tests. The company bought prior sets of test results for the area dating back to 1973. They put the project out to bid and chose Dawson, for their excellent safety record, experience and technical ability.
State or township permits were obtained for the routes where they would be working. Small survey flags are put in where the geo-phones would go. He described these as a microphone on a spike, which is pushed into the soil. Cables are attached to a recorder. Three to five days of testing are done at any one location. They have three of their large, specially equipped trucks operating. They have extra wide tires, which  spreads out the weight distribution and causes less impact on the ground. Data is collected, and the truck moves ahead on the road. When they leave, there is very little evidence they were there, he said.
The data gives them a picture of the rock strata as far down as 8,000 feet. Giving a better idea of where to drill cuts down on drilling. Torres said that they should be done by May 15.
Bob Gross spoke up first, and wanted to know why property owners weren’t notified. He said, “I threw the guys off my property.” Gross stressed, “I’m not against gas drilling; I just want to know what’s going on in front of my property.”
Torres affirmed that in hindsight, Newfield could have done better at communication, such as coming to the last township meeting to announce their plans. He said they were following standard procedures done in the past and elsewhere in the country. As far as property rights, he noted he was not a lawyer but offered to help citizens that night get information they wanted.
“What right do you have to do business on my property?,” another man asked.
Beverly Sterner, River Road, lamented what she called “secrecy” and expressed her dismay to find these flags, and that the worker would not tell her what they were for. He referred to his boss down the road.  She added that the Township, as well as the company, should have notified the  community so that the public could ask questions. Torres replied that is why he was here tonight.
Another man added in Newfield’s defense, that he lives near Bedrock Quarry and senses more vibrations from blasting without getting any cracks in his foundation. A different man commented that he found the Dawson crew very courteous, and he felt little vibration as he stood next to the truck talking to the workers.
Yet another man expressed concern that anyone could purchase data from the seismic test, data about what is under his property. “I’m not so worried about a crack,” he told Torres. “I’m more concerned about a proprietary theft.”
For more information on-line, see:
Dawson Geophysical Inc., www.dawson3d.com
Newfield Exploration Co., www.newfld.com