LANSING - Sandy Putorek is seeking answers as to why a Texas-based company conducting seismic testing in the local area did not seek her permission before placing explosive charges on her property.
The charges are used to help locate deposits of natural gas.
Putorek, who lives in Pittsburgh but owns a 30-acre farm outside Lansing, said she noticed tracks running through her land during a recent trip to the farm. Believing teenagers on ATVs had created the tracks, she followed them before discovering the explosive devices.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Sandy Putorek discovered explosive devices such as this on her 30-acre parcel outside Lansing in Belmont County.
Putorek and her attorney, Grace Hoffman, allege employees of a Texas company - Global Geophysical Services - encroached on her property to install the charges as part of a seismic test to develop a map of Utica Shale natural gas assets throughout eastern Ohio.
Global officials said in a statement they are working to rectify the matter.
"At first, I didn't know what they were," Putorek said regarding the devices. "When I found out they were explosives - and that they were using them to test for natural gas - I was very upset."
"What if I would not have come out here? Are they doing this all over the place and not even telling people?"
Putorek believes she owns both the mineral rights and surface rights to the land, as she said several natural gas companies have contacted her about signing a lease. Putorek said she is not interested in leasing, noting, "I grew up here and I am trying to build a house here."
"I gave none of these ... gas companies any permission to do anything on my property," she said. "This is crazy."
Putorek said she contacted the Belmont County Sheriff's Department, the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and local fire department officials to see what could be done when she found the charges earlier this month.
"Nobody knows what to do about it. It does not seem to be under anyone's jurisdiction," she said.
Putorek and Hoffman said Global Geophysical Services is the company conducting the seismic testing. According to the company's website, it provides "geoscience and engineering solutions to the global oil and gas industry."
"I know they are doing the seismic testing," John Parkinson, the information technology coordinator for the Belmont County Engineer's Office, said. "I have heard of them using small blast charges on some private property."
Last year, a Global official approached St. Clairsville City Council about creating a "3-D image of the Utica Shale" via seismic testing.
"It is my understanding that they (Global) contract with the natural gas companies to find the most profitable areas for drilling," Hoffman said. "That's fine, but they can't just come onto your property without permission."
In a statement, Global officials said they are addressing the problem with the appropriate agencies.
"Global is working diligently with all parties involved to come to a satisfactory resolution," company officials stated.
After mailing a letter to the company, Hoffman said Global officials agreed to remove the charges.
Putorek and Hoffman said Global officials are placing the blame on what they believe are inaccurate maps they received from the Belmont County Courthouse.
"A map is no proof of ownership," Putorek maintains. "This is my land."
More than anything, Putorek said she just wants exploration, testing and pipeline companies to leave her alone.
"I know a lot of people are lured in by the money, but I just don't want it here," she said.