Seismic Testing, Damascus Town Board, Weight Limits on Bridges, Public Response


According to attendees, there was a standing-room-only crowd last night at the Damascus Town Board meeting.  The public was  there to hear what representatives of Newfield Exploration could tell them about seismic thumping.  Many residents have expressed a variety of concerns regarding the seismic testing which   drilling companies perform in order to   predict the quality of  sub-surface gas reserves they’ll find before they hydraulically fracture.

Dawson Geophysical is the seismic testing company which will be providing the substrata seismic  data to Newfield.

On April 20, 2010,  Breathing published an eyewitness account of  seismic thumping.

In response,  several comments were left by readers expressing their personal concerns about the activity and two are re-posted here:

Another homeowner wrote the local community network and stated that he lives 150 feet back from the dirt road, and his whole house was shaking from it.

Comment by Jim Barth — April 20, 2010

Our property was last tested with thumper trucks and vibroseis on Thanksgiving Day, 2009. The vibrating and shaking went on all day and until we finished dinner…. A month or so ago, we found out that seismic testing can shut off springs and contaminate well water. Were we warned? Of course not….”

Comment by Pat Farnelli — April 20, 2010

Pro-drilling advocate Marian Schweighofer of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance (NWPOA) asserted in a recent River Reporter article,  ““We’ve been hearing from township officials who say they’re getting panicky calls from residents about the damage the Dawson survey work supposedly will do,” Schweighofer said. “There’s absolutely no truth to it.”

After Breathing published  the eyewitness account and news that seismic trucks were on their way to gather data on the River Road between Milanville and Route 652,  residents began calling and emailing Breathing to say the trucks were pulling up their testing equipment and vacating the road.  Reports had also surfaced that individual landholders had confronted  Dawson’s representatives with “No Trespassing” signs and demands that  Dawson cease testing near their properties.

Breathing spoke with representatives of Dawson and Newfield who confirmed they’d  removed their seismic equipment without testing the entire road.   One Vice President of Newfield  asserted that testing of the entire road was unnecessary because they’d gathered  all the data they needed in that particular area.

In a later development,  another  landowner and taxpayer reported, “Good news today. 1 mile of the Callicoon-Lookout Road will not be thumped.   Yesterday I called Dawson’s point man and requested they skip this portion of the road. It was cordial but I did mention that I would be pursuing legal means if necessary to protect my property from proprietary theft.  This morning they removed their flags, wires, and equipment.”

Some taxpayers raise  yet another concern about seismic testing and  gas drilling.  They point to   weight limits  on  local bridges  and the  structural risks posed  by seismic trucks that weigh, according to one report,  25-30 tons  and drilling rigs which, according to  Nockamixon Supervisor, Nancy Janyszeski,  “Don’t usually weigh less than 62 tons.”

One  resident of High Bridge Road in Milanville, PA —  where a test well is  scheduled for drilling  — says  the  small, stone, arch bridge over a creek  that services the High Bridge Road  “has a safety sign that reads   ‘Bridge Restrictions Gross Weight 5 tons.'”

In response,  a pro-drilling advocate posted this comment at the Wayne Independent’s coverage of last night’s Damascus Town Board meeting,  “For all of us, laws are considered guidelines, more or less. The weight limit situation would have been enforced if the truck had destroyed the bridge. That is pretty much what those weight limit signs are for. They shift liability from the government that is in charge of the bridge, to the clown that breaks the bridge. Reality is such that overweight trucks roll down the road every day. Drivers in cars and trucks exceed the speed limit. Guys shoot a few deer and put their wives tags on them. Kids ride 4-wheelers on the roads. You can find a plastic milk crate in many garages. Dog owners don’t get licenses for them, don’t keep them on leases, and do not clean up after them. People burn garbage and papers out back. Some people work for money under the table. Some people even remove the tags from their pillows and mattresses! For God’s sake, JB, this is getting pathetic, pure and simple. This stuff happens all the time, everywhere in the world. You have not uncovered an evil plot. You haven’t even discovered an unscrupulous company. You may have finally discovered reality. Get used to it. Man up. You strive so hard to obstruct that you make a mockery of your own cause. Looking for zero tolerance on all these actions that stretch your interpretation of the law? Youd be tarred and feathered and tossed on the first gas truck headed for Jersey if you even suggested it. It seems that you just dont get it! Maybe rural Wayne County is not the place for you.”

Although  Mothers United for Sustainable Technology (M.U.S.T.) doesn’t address the issue of  weight limits on bridges and consequent structural damage, the group has  posted a video which captures the natural beauty of the area where drilling is proposed.

And just for the heck of it,  Breathing offers this  Biblical quote received from a Damascus Township property owner and taxpayer:  ˜What shall I do, Lord?” I asked. Get up,” the Lord said,and go into Damascus . There you will be told everything you are destined to do. “My companions led me by the hand into Damascus , because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.” (Acts 22)