Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Firm Appeals Seismic-Testing Restraint

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Firm Appeals Seismic-Testing Restraint

Article excerpt

Three of the 136 explosive underground charges that regulators say were illegally set in mid-March at a mine reclamation site in Fayette County have been removed, but the company that placed the charges is appealing orders to extract the rest.

CGGVeritas Land Inc., a seismic-blasting company working to identify Marcellus Shale gas drilling locations for Chevron, removed three of the dynamite-based charges Friday from holes it drilled on the mine site within 300 feet of occupied homes in the village of LaBelle, said John Poister, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman.

The DEP and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration had ordered CGGVeritas to submit a removal plan and extract all of the explosives it set on the 500-acre mine waste reclamation and coal ash disposal site operated by Matt Canestrale Contracting Inc. by May 8. Such blasting activity is prohibited on an active mine reclamation site.

CGGVeritas at first said it would remove all of the explosives, but last week appealed that order to the state Environmental Hearing Board, saying the DEP wasn't clear in designating where the charges were allowed. No hearing date has been set, and the company did not return several calls Monday requesting comment.

In the meantime, the seismic blasting company will meet with the DEP and MSHA today on the mine site to discuss removal of 27 more explosive charges, Mr. Poister said.

"They're going to look at the options for what to do with those charges," he said. "I don't know what those options are, but they'll look at every aspect."

Those 27 charges are also located on the Canestrale property but outside the large, multicounty region where the DEP issued CGGVeritas a "blasting activity permit" in December 2012.

That permit, for what CGGVeritas calls its "Dog Bone 3D Seismic Project," allows the company to drill 20,000 holes -- each 20 to 30 feet deep -- and set and detonate 3.3 pounds of explosives in each one. …

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