Residents Concerned over Seismic Testing Proposal
DUBOIS – On Monday night, approximately 25 people filled the DuBois City Council chambers to respond to the Seitel Data seismic testing proposal for the DuBois watershed property that had been discussed at length during Thursday’s work session.
According to the minutes from the work session, Council member Diane Bernardo had spoken to a representative from Seitel Data by phone for an hour prior to the work session, and afterward she still had questions. Bernardo expressed concern since council wasn’t present at the Watershed Committee meeting with Seitel Data that lasted for two hours.
The minutes said that approximately two years ago, Seitel Data approached DuBois City about conducting seismic testing on the watershed property. The minutes said the city previously declined Seitel Data’s proposal after it refused to comply with seven requirements.
Council member Edward Walsh provided the city’s current listing of 10 requirements to the press after the meeting Monday night:
- Seitel Inc. had to provide maps showing the city’s reservoir, all water wells, springs, etc. along with seismic lines and planned boreholes a month prior to any testing to allow for city verification of the water resource features.
- Water must be tested from any source within 1,000 feet from any seismic line, analyzed by a certified laboratory for 11, different factors.
- The deepest a charge test could be drilled was 30 feet.
- All the above water sources are to be re-tested after the seismic testing occurred for changes.
- Seitel Inc. had to analyze the data for any metallic pipes and gas wells on city property, mark them on maps for the city.
- Seitel would be required to give a week’s notice to the city before moving on to the next phase.
- All data would be turned over to the city regarding what Seitel discovers of city property.
- Seitel would provide the city with a copy of all property, title and mineral rights ownership generated by their work. This is information Seitel has told the city it already has, but the city has yet to finish its own research on.
- At the request of the city’s forester, no “brush buggy” is to be used to clear out underbrush without the city’s permission. This would be forcing Seitel employees to walk to location more than using vehicles, but would protect the property.
- Seitel would reimburse the city for all costs of individuals to monitor the work being done on the watershed. Walsh added that the city’s monitor would have authorization to end the testing if they saw a need to for a reason.
Walsh said Seitel Data had recently agreed to all 10 requests, which resulted in the lengthy discussion of seismic testing at Thursday’s work session.
At that work session, Bernardo said she had been given Watershed Committee meeting minutes; however, she felt it was too critical to miss the meeting with Seitel Data. Bernardo said she was being asked to vote on a critical matter without hearing all the information.
City Mayor Gary Gilbert attended the meeting as a member of the Watershed Committee. City Manager John “Herm” Suplizio also attended the Water Shed Committee meeting. Walsh said he learned from a committee member that a meeting would occur, but he was not given an official notice.
During the work session on Thursday, Bernardo reminded council members that she had also missed the original seismic testing presentation from Jim Casselberry of Casselberry & Associates. Walsh believed it was merely an oversight that council wasn’t formally invited to the Watershed Committee meeting.
On Thursday night, council voted to conduct a public meeting with Seitel Data on March 19.
During the public comment session Monday night, residents protested the seismic testing for more than an hour. Most stated that if seismic testing occurred at the watershed, it would automatically lead to Marcellus Shale drilling there as well.
Sam Miles of the Watershed Committee said if the council couldn’t resolve the matter, the public should consider utilizing the upcoming primary election.
Two residents said they had health issues as a result of Marcellus Shale contaminating their water at Sykesville Camp. One said he’s lost all of his teeth and suffered two strokes. He is also suffering from vision loss.
Several residents asked whether or not the city would be liable for any damage caused by the seismic testing. Solicitor Toni Cherry said the city would not be liable for any damage.
Darlene Marshall thanked council for listening to the residents. She said, “I don’t believe this council was considering [seismic testing]. I just want to thank you for protecting the watershed.”
Cherry indicated that she has been ignoring weekly calls from Seitel Data for two years.
There wasn’t any action taken on the seismic testing issue at the meeting. Residents were encouraged to attend Seitel Data’s presentation at 7 p.m. March 19 at the DuBois City Municipal Building.