The Purple Violet Press has been making various inquiries over the past few months to determine whether government inspectors were ever appointed to oversee SWN seismic testing crews. (Although SWN plans to suspend operations in a few days, we thought it still relevant since crews will be active until early September).
On June 29 at a SWN open house in Durham Bridge, local officials met with SWN and government members, in a private briefing before the open house began, to discuss upcoming seismic work in the area.
This publication learned that during the meeting, MLA Kirk MacDonald pushed DNR Deputy Minister Sam MacEwan to provide inspectors on-site to oversee the work of seismic crews. Locals were worried about the scheduled exploration work and had made their concerns about well issues known to MacDonald.
It's understood from a source present at the meeting, MacEwan agreed there would be government inspectors with the seismic trucks at all times to ensure the 200 meter set back from wells was respected.
However, there has been no answer on whether any inspectors were ever followed up on by MacDonald or put in place by DNR.
The Purple Violet Press contacted Ann Bullmonteith, spokesperson for DNR, for comment on the matter. However, none was forthcoming. We also contacted Sam MacEwan, however, he simply referred us back to Ann Bullmonteith.
Mr MacDonald's office was also contacted, but curiously, after being so open with the press in discussing the shale gas issue, MacDonald has not only shut his door to us, but other media inquiries as well, including those of the CBC's Jacques Poitras, who called MacDonald's refusal, "wierd". MacDonald's press liason, Heidi Cyr, told us to contact the DNR spokesperson on the matter, Bruce Northrup.
SWN General Manager Tom Alexander was also contacted this afternoon for comment on SWN being overseen by government inspectors. But, Alexander had no comment, saying it was something we would have to approach DNR about.
Locals in the Stanley, Taymouth, Penniac and Durham Bridge areas told this publication they saw no government inspectors while seismic crews were in their communities. There were rumors of inspectors, but nothing was confirmed.
Members of the Taymouth Community Association, Jim Emberger and Peter DeMarsh, were also contacted by this publication for comment. Neither were aware of any inspectors accompanying SWN seismic workers in their communities.