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Trustees hear details on seismic testing

November 29, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

Austintown trustees had a special guest speaker at Monday's township meeting. Ken Nowak from Front Runner Seismic Inc. addressed the board on plans to do seismic testing next summer.

Nowak said his company began in 2009 and is based out of the Youngstown-Hubbard area. He said it has been hired to test a 140-square-mile "shoe" that stretches from southern Trumbull County through western Mahoning and a portion of eastern Portage counties. The eastern border of the shoe, or test area, runs through the center of Austintown.

"We have property owners who have already granted us permission to test," Nowak said. "We found some of the property we want to test on is owned by the township."

He said the fire station on Ohio 46 and Township Park are each areas they would like to use for the testing.

Nowak explained two methods his company uses to test for fault lines. The first involves drilling a three-inch hole that is 30 to 40 feet deep. A charge is inserted into the hole and is set off. The small explosion is then monitored by recording devices that will reveal where a fault line is.

Chairman Dave Ditzler asked about the potential impact the explosions would have. Nowak said a person could feel it up to 500 feet away, but it would not be like an earthquake. He said it is more like a vibration or rumble. He said if a person were standing closer to the test hole, they may feel the ground rise and settle.

In the second testing method, Nowak said his company will bring in two to six large trucks designed to vibrate the ground. The vehicles normally do it on a public roadway by setting a plate down and creating the vibration. Readings are taken from the vibrations, which could run from a few seconds to a half a minute.

"It will depend on what the geologists ask for," Nowak said.

Trustee Lisa Oles asked if there was ever damage done to homes. Nowak replied that it has never happened. He did say his company would have a bond to cover any damage that the testing would cause.

Nowak added that his company has a site crew go out ahead of time and pinpoint buildings and other structures such as wells and septic tanks. He said testing is not allowed within 300 feet of any of those structures.

As far as the road vibration testing, Nowak said his company will provide flagmen and the roads won't be closed. The vehicles will actually be moving along the road and testing at intervals.

As for wooded areas, Nowak said a path would be cleared, but no tree larger than three inches would be disturbed. He also mentioned that helicopters would be used to get equipment into remote areas.

In closing, Nowak said his company pays $5 an acre to run the tests, but they do not lease the property.

Township zoning inspector Darren Crivelli told Nowak that testing in Township Park is a sensitive issue. He said a section of the park is under a Clean Ohio grant that requires it to remain natural and undisturbed. Nowak said his would work with the township to stay away from those areas.

Oles asked Nowak for a list of other communities in which his company had done testing so the township could contact them and get information as a follow up. Nowak did say he would like to have an informational meeting in January that the public could attend to learn more.

Trustees did not give permission for testing on township land, but wanted to wait to gather more information before allowing the process.

In other business:

Police Chief Bob Gavalier informed trustees that his department just received an $18,150 grant from Criminal Justice Services that will be used for the new radio system.

Trustees approved three nuisance properties and the demolition of a single-family dwelling at 1029 Ohltown Road, which had been declared dangerous to health or life by the Mahoning County Board of Health.

Pat Connolly addressed trustees in the public response segment of the meeting and thanked everyone who came out and supported the efforts to send clothes, blankets and other needs to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. He said volunteers spent 50 hours at 911 Memorial Park on Raccoon Road collecting items. He said two trucks were loaded to capacity twice during the period. They carried the supplies to Staten Island and New Jersey.

It was noted the annual Austintown Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony will take place at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 at Fire Station 2 in Wickliffe Circle.



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