Seismic testing to search for and map natural gas beneath the ground for future drilling is happening throughout Portage County, and now on stretches along most of state Route 43, heading south from the Twin Lakes area, through Kent, Brimfield and Suffield and into Stark County.
Kent residents began asking questions Thursday, noticing a long orange cable, connected to metal seismic activity monitors strung through downtown Kent and across driveways, lawns and intersections that continues for miles.
The work along state Route 43 is being carried out by Precision Geophysical Inc., a Millersburg company that maps the data throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and New York, according to the company’s website. The process uses large trucks that carry Enviro-Vibes sounding equipment, which sends pulses into the ground that are read by the roadside monitoring equipment.
“The process provides data that is used by geophysicists to determine the best location for drilling natural gas wells,” Kent Service Director Gene Roberts said.
Precision Geophysical is not testing within Kent’s city limits, however, as the city determined that a bond requirement of $2.25 million would be necessary to insure the value of Kent’s state Route 43 pavement. State Route 43 runs along South Water and North Mantua streets. The bond requirement was deemed too high by Precision Geophysical, according to an email sent by Roberts to city officials when the company sought a permit.
“The bond is to protect the city’s pavement,” Roberts said, explaining that the pulses sent out by the Enviro-Vibes equipment can potentially damage it.
Portage County Engineer Michael Marozzi said the work has been carried out by similar companies throughout Portage County for about half a year now.
“They’ve done a tremendous amount of this testing. From what we know, they’ve strung lines all over Portage County,” Marozzi said, noting that his department only issues permits for the jobs on county roads.
Brent Kovacs, a public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation, which issues permits for the right-of-way use for such activity on state routes, said the work is now common in northeastern Ohio counties that sit above the Marcellus and Utica shale formations that house natural gas deposits.
“I would say it’s normal in the counties that they’re looking to do the fracking in,” he said.