Here is a personal story told by a member of a family from French Azilum, PA, which tells of her dismay about seismic testing on her family property, lovingly referred to as "Camp."
"Permission was given by a family member last November for Geokinetics to do seismic testing on Camp property. The family received $5 per acre. These tests are not connected with any gas company. They are done by an independent company which hopes to cash in big time on the gas drilling frenzy, which undoubtedly they are. The testing, in which dynamite is buried 20 feet down and then detonated, is all set to begin on our property in the next two weeks or so. Workers have been all over our property marking with ribbons, orange, pink, blue, and white. Big tire vehicles have trampled down vegetation and left big tire tracks in the mud on our path to the river.
It gave me a sick feeling to walk down that beautiful path and see the evidence of newcomers who do not know they walk on sacred land.They do not know the animals and the flowers and trees that live there and will soon be traumatized by earth-shattering blasts. Here is a little information that we probably should have found out about before we agreed to have this done. Also, if we are not thinking about leasing, WHY DO WE NEED TO HAVE TESTING DONE?" [Read my comments at the end of this post.]
Seismic Exploration—Issues and Impacts
• Survey stakes for mapping out the exploration area should be wooden, and not wire pin flags, because farming activities like making silage or hay can shred the wire flags. The resultant metal bits can kill livestock that eat the feed. Also, all stakes and markers should be removed after exploration is completed, because livestock and wildlife can die from eating ribbons or flags.
• Seismic lines will destroy vegetation and may cause erosion, which could lead to sediment entering surface waters.
• 3-D tests tend to cause greater surface disturbance and companies use your land for longer periods of time than with two-dimensional surveys.
• If dynamite is used during exploration, the "shot" holes may intercept the water table, and water may begin to flow or seep to the surface. These flowing holes have caused problems for some landowners, e.g., by making the land so wet that farmers were unable to cut hay. These holes need to be plugged from bottom to top. Ensure that the company properly plugs and abandons these holes.
• Seismic work crews may generate different types of waste (plastic, paper, containers, fuel leaks/spills, food and human wastes).
Seismic Exploration—Tips for Landowners
• Prior to any exploration, it is advisable to ask the company to show you, on a map and on an aerial photograph of your property, where they intend to conduct their seismic operations. [WAS THIS DONE?]To minimize damage, try to ensure that work is conducted as far away from surface waters as possible. Ask companies to avoid steep slopes, as this could lead to erosion. As well, request that the company avoid any areas of ecological sensitivity or importance to your use of your land. [WHAT ABOUT WILD FLOWERS ON OUR PATH?]
• Landowners may want to negotiate more payment and negotiate stronger surface-damage provisions if they consent to 3-D seismic tests, due to a greater degree of surface disturbance caused by this type of testing.
• It is advisable to get water wells tested before and after seismic testing, because seismic shot holes can provide a path for surface contaminants to come into direct contact with groundwater. The seismic explosions may also create pathways for water to flow to the surface, which could decrease pressure in the reservoir and affect water quantity in water wells. You can request that the company pay for these water quality and quantity tests.
• After the company leaves, do some ground-truthing: ensure that holes have been properly filled; that no flags, pins or trash are left around to endanger livestock or wildlife; and that water is not flowing into or from any holes. [WILL THIS BE DONE?]
• Review the state regulations governing exploration (contact state agencies to obtain copies of any regulations pertaining to exploration). There will likely be a number of things that the company is required by law to do (e.g., plugging of seismic holes; notification of exploration; posting a bond to cover potential surface damages, etc.). The more you know, the more you can ensure that the company is acting responsibly. For example, if notification is required before a company can enter your property, you may want to use the opportunity to make some requests of the company, e.g., negotiate a surface damage agreement, or right-of-way (access) agreement.
It should be stressed that geophysical techniques and remote sensing cannot identify oil or gas accumulations directly; they can only indicate the potential for reserves. The presence of oil and gas can only be confirmed by actual drilling. So, if the preliminary tests indicate a high likelihood of oil and gas, the company may decide to drill an exploratory well.
THERE HAS DEFINITELY BEEN SURFACE DAMAGE ON OUR PROPERTY. WAS THAT ADDRESSED WITH GEOKINETICS? WERE THEY ASKED TO NOTIFY US WHEN THE TESTS WOULD BE DONE? I DO NOT BELIEVE SO. WERE WE AWARE OF WHAT SHOULD BE DONE BY THE COMPANY AFTER THE TESTS ARE COMPLETED? I DO NOT THINK SO. DID WE KNOW WHERE THE DYNAMITE WOULD BE BURIED? I DO NOT THINK SO. WAS THERE A COMPELLING REASON TO HAVE THIS DONE ON OUR PROPERTY IN THE FIRST PLACE? I DON'T THINK SO. DO I WISH OUR FAMILY REPRESENTATIVE HAD BEEN MORE RESPONSIBLE AND DONE RESEARCH BEFORE AGREEING TO THIS TESTING? YES!
MY HEARTFELT APOLOGY TO ALL THE CREATURES WHO LIVE ON OUR PROPERTY AND WHOSE HABITAT WILL BE BLASTED OR SHAKEN DURING THESE NEEDLESS TESTS.