Vidor man discovers seismic testing company about to detonate TNT without permission

David Yates Jan. 29, 2008, 7:42am

To say the least, Huey Buckley was a little surprised to learn that an oil company had dug a 150-foot hole on his property and filled it with dynamite.

After making the discovery, Buckley immediately contacted the Lake Ronel Oil Company and stopped them before the company could blow his property to "high heaven." Now, he is suing Lake Ronel Oil in hopes of restoring his land to its original state.

Lake Ronel Oil has been performing seismic testing in the Vidor area looking for pockets of oil and natural gas.

Buckley's suit was filed in the Orange County District Court on Jan. 16.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, Buckley's property and residence is located on a strip of land on Townsend Road.

The suit does not give a date, but sometime in the recent past, Lake Ronel Oil approached Buckley and asked permission to run cables across his land and also to detonate dynamite. Lake Ronel has been doing seismic testing for several months in the area, moving westward to Beaumont from Orange.

In the seismic testing, dynamite charges are set underground and cables linked to seismic equipment record the sound waves. Experts can determine the presence of oil and gas from the waves.

Fearing the massive explosion would cause "irreparable damage to his water well system and foundation," Buckley told the oil company that it could not detonate explosives but did grant the company permission to run cable.

"Not withstanding plaintiff's express denial to place and detonate explosives on his land, defendants nevertheless trespassed, dug a 150-foot hole and dropped dangerous explosives into the hole," the suit said.

"Plaintiff discovered this egregious wrong before defendant actually detonated � and reported the matter to defendants."

The recent round of testing has been met with many complaints from residents, and the matter was subject of meetings with the Orange County Commissioners in December 2007. Beaumont City Council heard complaints from residents near the Neches River late last year regarding the buffer zone requirements around the testing area.

The council approved the seismic testing in the downtown area, but on Jan. 22 denied Lake Ronel's request to use vibratory trucks on city streets.

Lake Ronel 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, according to an article in the Orange County Record (not affiliated with the Southeast Texas Record). One of the gas fields the company discovered in the past decade is under the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School tennis courts.

Buckley is suing for the actual damages to his land and exemplary damages, plus court costs and attorney's fees.

He is represented by Mary Bradford of the Reaud, Morgan and Quinn law firm.

The case has been assigned to the 163rd Judicial District, Judge Dennis Powell presiding.

Case No. B-080023-c

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