According to an eyewitness report received this morning by Breathing, “They’ve [Dawson Geophysical, the seismic testing company] just pulled up stakes, cables, and wires and will not be thumping on our road.”
The “road” referred to is a portion of The River Road located between Milanville, PA and the Narrowsburg Bridge at Rte 652.
Earlier reports suggested some of Dawson’s seismic cables “were rendered unusable” last night.
Yesterday, workers who characterized themselves as “surveyors,” were seen at several locations preparing for today’s seismic testing. According to first-hand accounts, at least three landholders showed the workers signs that read, “No Trespassing” and “Seismic Testing Prohibited On This Property.” When the workers acknowledged the signs, the landholders requested they vacate the “private land” immediately. Also according to first-hand reports, many of the surveyors had Michigan license plates and at least a few stated they worked for a contracting company out of Michigan.
Other reports surfaced of landowners removing seismic testing wires from “privately-held” rights-of-way and front yards.
Early yesterday evening, a No Trespassing notice — reportedly written by Attorney Jeff Zimmerman who’s been working with the Damascus Citizens — was widely-circulated for use by interested landholders. As of this morning, several area residents were reproducing the notice for posting on their properties.
In an effort to obtain an independent explanation of Dawson’s reported actions and their significance going forward, Breathing has placed calls to representatives of Dawson Geophysical, Hess Energy (in Honesdale, PA), Frontline and Newfield’s headquarters in Houston, Texas.
Mr. Jeff Sleder, of Frontline, said his Texas employer “works with Dawson to get road permits for seismic testing. All I know from Jeff Forney is that Dawson’s omitting 100 pin flags from the testing on the southern-most stretch of that road. Looking at the map I have here in my office, it’s hard to say exactly, but it looks like a stretch of about two miles or so.” (Mr. Forney is a Dawson representative assigned to our local area.)
Mr. Sleder explained that the pin flags are what the industry calls the orange flags residents have seen sprouting up along roadsides in Pennsylvania. “Those pin flags are where the seismic crews would normally lay out their sensors. They’re the places they stop and do the vibrating.”
According to the map Mr. Sleder was looking at in Texas, “The area where those flags have been pulled up looks like about two miles. Two miles is too small an area for the company to return to for the testing.” That last was in response to Breathing wondering whether that portion of the River Road would be “thumped” in the future.
When Breathing asked who had made the decision to pull the pin flags and why, Mr. Sleder said, “Mr. Forney didn’t make the decision but he might be able to say who did.” (Breathing has left three messages for Mr. Forney since first receiving the news of equipment being pulled off the River Road and has not heard back.)
The Hess office in Honesdale directed Breathing to Mr. Kelly Birch in Newfield’s Houston office where another request for a call-back was left.
Removal of the pin flags on the River Road does not signal a wider abandonment of seismic testing in other areas of the Towns of Damascus, Manchester or even Milanville. Last week, Dawson’s surveyor flags dotted the Calkins Creek Road which is home to a proposed test well site. The road is a narrow, single-lane dirt road, one side of which has frequent steep descents to the tributary creek below.
Some messages left by Breathing stated that a lack of information concerning seismic testing might have exacerbated local anxiety about the process, its purposes and impacts.