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2 Fayette landowners sue testing companies

Paul Peirce

A Texas-based firm that does seismic testing prior to Marcellus shale natural gas drilling has been named as a defendant in two separate federal lawsuits filed by Fayette County landowners.

In one lawsuit, Danell Pepson, who lives on several hundred acres in Wharton Township, claims that Global Geophysical Services Inc. in Missouri City, Texas., reneged on an agreement to conduct seismic testing on her property.

Pepson recently gained notoriety for personally paying for two screenings in Uniontown of “Gasland,” a controversial documentary about the threats of the natural-gas drilling method called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, where drillers induce fractures in rock to allow natural gas to surface.

Pepson alleges in the complaint that Global has acquired information from tests conducted on adjoining properties and she believes her land could be harmed if drilling commences on those properties.

She is asking U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to prevent Global from “disseminating the (seismic) data derived from said operations on and about adjoining parcels. ” She wants a judge to order Global to complete testing of her parcels.

In an unrelated case filed in federal court in Pittsburgh this week, John T. Harper of Oakhill, Va., Christine Ryan of Dunbar, and Arthur Steinberg of Richboro, who jointly own 191 acres in Dunbar Township, claim Global and an affiliated company, Cougar Land Services of Stafford, Texas, conducted seismic testing on that land for potential drilling without the owners’ approval.

“Global and Cougar claim that a man named ‘Edmund C. Harper, a.k.a. E.C. Harper’ gave them permission to enter the property and to conduct the testing,” the lawsuit states.

“Upon information and belief, Global and Cougar gave E.C. Harper a paltry $1,148 (representing $3 per acre plus an alleged administrative fee) in exchange for purported permission to enter onto the property…,” the lawsuit alleges.

The property owners are seeking in excess of $150,000 in damages for six counts including negligence, trespassing, and invasion of property.

Attempts to reach officials at Global and Cougar yesterday were unsuccessful yesterday.


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