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Judge grants Brooke County property owner restraining order against Southwestern Energy pipeline

WELLSBURG — A Brooke County property owner has been granted a temporary restraining order to keep Southwestern Energy from using a pipeline allegedly placed across his property earlier this month without his permission.

The restraining order issued by Brooke County Circuit Judge Jason Cuomo at the request of Scott C. Sonda on Aug. 19 is in effect for the next 10 days, or until a hearing on the matter takes place at 1 p.m. Wednesday before Cuomo.

Sonda is the owner of a 139-acre property in the Buffalo District of Brooke County. Court filings indicate that he and Southwestern previously entered into a leasing contract, but that the agreement prohibited fracking fluid from crossing over, through or under his property.

The restraining order request states that on July 29, a Southwestern employee asked Sonda if a temporary work space could be erected on his land, and he declined.

On Aug. 9, boring work to lay pipes across a country road on his property was started. The purpose of the pipeline was to transport fresh water and reclaimed water once mixed with fracking fluid to well pads not on Sonda’s property. Sonda also did not give his permission for the pipe work to occur, according to the filing.

It states the boring concluded on Aug. 11, and that pipeline was placed in the coming days.

It is believed Southwestern has since concluded the work begun transporting fluids through the pipeline, according to the filing.

“Whether these pipes are actively transporting fluid or will be in the in the future, their continued existence on Sonda’s real property constitutes a trespass to real property,” according to the request in the filing. “(Sonda) does not want any fracking fluid or water contaminated with fracking fluid to cross over, under or through his property.”

In granting the request for a restraining order, Cuomo said Southwestern had already committed a trespass against Sonda if the allegations are true. If so, “irreparable injury and loss” to Sonda could occur if the temporary restraining order were not granted,” he stated.

(King can be contacted at jking@theintelligencer.net)

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