County hears complaints about seismic testing
Residents complaining about seismic testing have a sense of futility “like they’re up against a big oil company,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Beamon Minton said Monday.
Orange County Commissioners Court held a special workshop meeting Monday morning to discuss complaints against Lake Ronel Oil Co. and seismic testing in the western part of the county.
“The feeling of futility these citizens have is the arrogance you have,” Minton said to the Lake Ronel representatives.
County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said Lake Ronel, which has been in the county for nearly 10 years and has a local office, has been a good company. However, the county has been inundated with complaints dealing with the company’s recent seismic testing.
“There’s got to be something happening that’s causing the rebuttal,” Thibodeaux said.
“Start getting one on one with these people and work out the problems,” Thibodeaux told the oil company representatives toward the end of the workshop.
And he gave a threat after hearing that workers had told residents “Judge Thibodeaux said we could do it.”
“If I found out one of these men used my name to get on someone’s property, you’re in trouble. I’m not kidding,” he told Lake Ronel representatives.
Residents in the Vidor area complained about shock waves from the testing and how the company has not been friendly.
“They’re the most arrogant people I’ve ever met and I’ve met some arrogant people,” said Frankie Langston.
Fred Sparton, who lives on Burton Road, said cable lines and boxes had been laid across his pasture without permission. He almost broke his mover blade on his tractor when he hit a box that he didn’t know was there.
“I will shoot the sh-t out of them” if they go on the property again, he said.
All four county commissioners said they had heard complaints from citizens about the recent seismic testing.
Fred Griggs, senior geophysicist with Lake Ronel, said the company was formed in 1936 and is based in Tyler. The company has been testing in Orange County since 1996 and has a local office. Oil and gas discoveries in the county have brought in a total of $12.5 million in property taxes through 2007, he said.
One of the gas fields the company discovered in the past decade is under the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School tennis courts, he said. The well head is on a pasture away from the school, he said.
In the seismic testing, dynamite charges are set underground and seismic equipment records the sound waves. Experts can determine the presence of oil and gas from the waves.
One resident asked why companies test every couple of years. Thibodeaux said the companies do not share their seismic tests. He said Lake Ronel has been the best oil testing company he has worked with in his 13 years as county judge.
“We’re disruptive, we’re a nuisance and we know that,” Griggs said.
He said the company pays for damages if the seismic recording records show the charges shook the ground at a certain level set by the U.S. Bureau of Mines.
He also said the company will test water wells before the seismic charges are made. The water well tests are used as a standard to see if the seismic charges damage the well. Lake Ronel employees or contractors are supposed to contact all residents in an area at least three times to offer water well testing, he said.
However, the residents at the workshop meeting said they hadn’t been contacted and the company should leave fliers with contact numbers.
Lannie Brown, a former Vidor city council member, said he and his wife are home “99 percent of the time” and have never been contacted by anyone from Lake Ronel.