The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently began a one-year air monitoring study of Marcellus Shale drilling sites.
The study will be conducted in Washington County, and it will measure airborne pollutants in an attempt to discover the impacts associated with the processing and transmission of unconventional natural gas.
“We operate on facts and sound science, and this study will provide us with data on long-term air quality in an area of active natural gas extraction,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said, in a DEP press release. “There has been a documented downward trend in airborne pollutants across the state over the past 10 years, and Marcellus Shale development holds the promise of emissions benefits from the use of this cleaner-burning fuel in the transportation and electricity generation sectors.”
In 2010 and 2011, the agency conducted short-term ambient air quality sampling in the southwest, north-central, and northeast parts of the state, where Marcellus Shale drilling was taking place. The sampling did not identify concentrations of any compound that would likely trigger air-related health issues. DEP also tested for carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and ozone, but did not detect concentrations above National Ambient Air Quality Standards at any of the sampling sites.
The DEP will monitor for ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen sulfide and methane.
The primary site for the DEP study will be downwind from the Houston gas processing plant in Chartiers. Three other sites have been chosen for sampling. They include include one upwind of the Houston processing plant, one downwind of the Brigich compressor station in Chartiers, and another downwind of the Stewart compressor stations in Hickory.
The results are expected to be released in a report next summer and will help the agency determine whether additional testing is needed in other parts of the state.
For more information or to view the study’s sampling protocol, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click “Air,” or call 717-787-9702.