Fenwick Joins Anti-Seismic Testing Foes

FENWICK ISLAND – Fenwick Island has joined state officials and other local municipalities in opposing seismic testing off the Atlantic coast.

In a town council meeting late last month, council members unanimously agreed to send a letter to state and federal officials opposing seismic testing for offshore oil and natural gas reserves.

Seismic air gun testing involves blasting compressed air into the ocean floor every 10 seconds in search of oil and natural gas reserves. This testing lasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week over several weeks.

The town also voiced their opposition to seismic testing late last January, following concerns about the impact of potential seismic testing off the area’s coast.

In December of 2016, former President Barack Obama banned drilling on millions of acres in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. In April of this year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to reopen areas off the Atlantic coast to offshore oil exploration and drilling.

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The letter of opposition states that federal agencies recently received five permit applications from companies to conduct seismic testing off the mid-Atlantic coast.

“Seismic testing is a precursor to natural oil and natural gas exploration, including drilling in the Atlantic Ocean,” the letter reads. “Whereas, should natural oil and gas exploration occur off the coast of Delaware and other coastal areas of the Mid-Atlantic region, the possibility of a disastrous oil spill … poses a significant and real danger to the beaches and marine life within the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the economies and quality of life of the Town of Fenwick Island and its neighbors in the Mid-Atlantic region.”

In addition, the letter argues that the testing could impact many aspects of nearby towns.

“The risks associated with oil and natural gas exploration … far outweigh the potential benefits we receive from these activities,” the letter reads. “The Town of Fenwick Island and its neighbors should not have to face the threat of an oil spill and should not have to face the impacts that such an oil spill and/or seismic testing will have on the local habitat, property values, quality of life and local economy.”

Councilwoman Vicki Carmean commended the town’s idea to send the letter.

“I think it’s a good idea,” she said.

Mayor Gene Langan agreed.

“We have to do it,” he added.

The council voted 7-0 to oppose seismic testing.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.