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October 7, 2009

Officials positive following gas-well tour

By Tom Grace

Cooperstown News Bureau

Last Thursday, a delegation of Otsego County officials visited a gas well being drilled by Gastem USA in the town of Maryland, and according to a couple of reports, they liked what they saw.

``I’d say it’s definitely less intrusive than a logging operation,’’ said Rep. Stephen Fournier, R-Milford, a member of the Otsego County Board of Representatives. ``I was prepared for worse.

``The access road was nice, and they’d cleared an area about the size of a football field.’’

The well site, owned by Ronald Ross of Maryland, is well off Shutter Road, and although the drilling was noisy up close, it could not be heard from the road, he said.

Fournier said the officials’ tour was guided by Gastem USA President Orville Cole.

Cole would not allow photographs to be taken, although several in the entourage had cameras, Fournier said. ``They’re worried someone might gain a competitive advantage from a picture.”

David Parker of Worcester, a member of the MOSA board of directors, said it appeared to him that Gastem USA, a division of a Canadian firm, ``wants to make absolutely sure there are no problems here.’’

Water used to flush out the bore hole is kept in a contained system to minimize the danger of contamination, he said.

Parker had visited the site before because waste was being hauled off the premises without going to MOSA.

When alerted that Otsego County would prefer that waste go to a Montgomery-Otsego- Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority transfer station, Gastem USA complied, he said.

The well in Maryland was begun in September and is behind schedule because the drillers hit a pocket of brine at about 3,000 feet, according to Otsego County Planner Psalm Wyckoff, who was on the trip.

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