Seismic company wants to shake Mahoning County ground

Published: Fri, June 21, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken


A seismic-testing company seeking oil and natural-gas deposits for the drilling industry wants to use 120 miles of county and township roads in Mahoning County to explore for the underground treasure.

Front Runner Seismic Inc. of Westfield, Pa., is seeking permission from county officials to do the testing on those roads.

County Engineer Patrick Ginnetti said the county commissioners would have to give permission for such activity.

Tim Burkert, a design and construction engineer in Ginnetti’s office, said the area to be explored includes portions of Austintown, Canfield, Jackson, Milton, Berlin, and Ellsworth townships.

The trucks used in the process, which essentially conducts an ultrasound examination by sending vibrations underground and registering the waves that return, can weigh up to 30 tons, Ginnetti said. The normal vehicle-weight limit on county and township roads is 17 tons, he said.

“We give them an overloaded permit, and we give them a permit to be in the right of way,” if the activity is approved, Ginnetti said.

He added the commissioners must approve a road-use maintenance agreement with the company, under which the company agrees to pay for repair of any road damage its equipment might cause.

The testing “does a 3-D model underground,” Ginnetti said. Typically, several of the testing trucks work together in a group, with a long wire stretched along the road, he said. “It’s being done in every other county that has oil and gas,” he said.

Front Runner is conducting seismic explorations in Trumbull County, Burkert said.

“We’re trying to be consistent with Trumbull County,” which is charging $600 per mile for permit administration for this activity and collecting a $100,000 bond from the company to cover any road damage its equipment might cause, Ginnetti said.

Mahoning County charges $25 for a permit to work within a road right of way and $250 for an overloaded hauling permit, Burkert said.

Front Runner’s president, Will Dressel, could not be reached to comment.

Ginnetti explained the company’s proposal in an interview before he was to present the matter to the county commissioners at a staff meeting Thursday.

But, before Ginnetti could present the proposal to the commissioners in public session, John Heino, an assistant county prosecutor assigned to the engineer’s office, interrupted him and said the commissioners needed to discuss “pending or threatened litigation.”

Heino did not elaborate and the commissioners went into a 20-minute closed-door session.

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