Our thoughts and opinions about gas extraction and related topics

Vulnerable Populations and the Shale Gas Boom

What is a vulnerable population? For a term used so often, a clear definition from an authoritative source is surprisingly hard to come by. For example, the term has over 2.5 million Google hits, but no Wikipedia page. The National Institute of Health has almost 5,000 references, but the handful of pages that I looked at assumed the reader already knew the definition. In a sense, of course, it is fairly self-explanatory. The UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations(CVP) tells us that they serve:

…populations for whom social conditions often conspire to both promote various chronic diseases and make their management more challenging.


OK, that makes sense, but from the perspective of someone trying to map the effects of the natural gas industry on vulnerable populations, the term is still hopelessly vague. Who exactly are we talking about, and where do we find them?

There are probably many groups that would qualify as a vulnerable population, but for this analysis, I have included hospitals and schools as a place to start, because those are the places where those who are already sick and children congregate, respectively (1). These groups unquestionably apply to the CVP definition, above.


Vulnerable populations and the Marcellus Shale gas industry. Click on the tabs with the gray compass rose and double carat (^) to hide those menus. Click on the “i” button and then one of the map icons for more information.

There’s a lot of information on that map, and, frankly, it is difficult to determine the proximity of problematic wells to these centers of vulnerable populations at this scale. For this reason, CHEC Director Dr. Volz made a series of regional snapshots, which can be found here.

 

  1. A fuller list might include parks, daycare facilities, nursing care facilities, etc.

How is PA handling shale gas wastewater?

 

Jim Riggio, plant manager for the Beaver Falls Municipal
Authority, shows a sample of solid materials removed from
the Beaver River during treatment Dec. 15 at his plant.

On January 3rd, Associated Press writer, David Caruso, criticized the efforts underway in Pennsylvania to protect surface waters from shale gas drilling wastewater – especially because in most other states the primary means of disposal is deep well injection.

On January 4th, both the Marcellus Shale Coalition (the industry’s PR group) and DEP Secretary John Hanger defended the Commonwealth’s actions and current regulations.

What do you think?

Do you want to know where shale gas wastewater is permitted to be disposed of into surface waters near you? Below is a snapshot that I made in August 2010 using FracTracker’s DataTool of the facilities within PA that are permitted to receive shale gas drilling wastewater:


To learn more about a particular site, click on the inspect button in the gray toolbar – the “i” – and then click on a red diamond. A white box will pop up. Within that box, click on “view” to see who operates these facilities and how much wastewater per day they are permitted to receive. (“MGD” stands for Million Gallons Per Day. “GPD” means Gallons Per Day.)

And finally, here are two blog posts written by CHEC staff about the challenges facing our surface waters – and potentially our health – as a result of both fresh water withdrawals and wasterwater disposal:

When the Landman Comes Knocking

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Especially this time of year, it is easy to see the appeal of the landman. A stranger comes knocking on your door, offering you money for something you didn’t know you had, and that you won’t have to work for. How do you beat that? Regular readers of this space know, though, that there are many problems that can be associated with gas drilling, including explosions, spills, road degradation, property devaluation, and gas migration into streams and aquafers.  If operators want to drill on your land, assume that their representative:
  1. Is familiar with the relevant regulations
  2. Has some sort of an idea of what to expect from your land (including how much gas will be produced)

Regulations

While the regulations are available online, this is not the time to try the do it yourself approach. The only way to level the legal playing field is with an informed mineral rights attorney. Should you ever find yourself entertaining a landman’s offer, go get one right away. There could potentially be a lot of money (or a lot of headaches) at stake. Drilling operators in Pennsylvania are required to give the mineral rights owner at least 1/8th of the wellhead price of gas that is produced, but how much would they be willing to spend per acre(1)? That depends on the production that they anticipate from your land.

Production

[media removed]
Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale natural gas production interpolation. Please click on the tabs with the compass rose and double carat to remove the gray boxes.

Of course, no one knows exactly how much gas a well will produce until it has been drilled, but that doesn’t mean that the industry is blindly poking holes in the ground. The map above is an interpolation map that estimates the amount of gas that would be produced from the Marcellus Shale at any given point in Pennsylvania. This is based on self-reported production data from drilling operators that was posted on the Pennsylvania DEP website.

I made this map with a process called kriging, which compares the value of points with other points on the map, and interpolates the values of the areas in between dots. Because of this, the closer a projected value (blue to red contour lines) is to a measured value (black dots), the more accurate it is. In this map, there are several “bubbles” that look like high production areas in the middle of the state that are probably misleading, since there are no actual wells nearby (2).

It is probably safe to assume that the industry has more and better data to work with, but even so, some information is better than nothing at all. To effectively use this map, zoom in to the area of interest, click the “i” in the blue circle, and click on the lines on either side of the area in question. A box will pop up with a value, which will be in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf). How much a well on your property would produce is critical in determining whether you would be offered $500 or $5,000 per acre. And for the land owner, it is critical in determining whether or not the whole endeavor is worthwhile at all. After all, why have your peaceful home disturbed by a few months of round-the-clock industry for a couple of hundred bucks? Now that you have some idea of what might be produced from wells on your land, you can get an idea of what you might earn with a royalty calculator.

 

Violations

It is just a fact that sometimes things go wrong once drilling gets underway. Upon request, the Pennsylvania DEP provided us with a list of 9,370 violations from 2007 to the end of September, 2010. And while who the drilling operator is will tell you something of how likely a violation is, geographically speaking, the wells with a lot of violations are somewhat randomly distributed throughout the Marcellus Shale formation.
[media removed]
Number of violations per offending Marcellus Shale well, 1-1-07 through 9-30-10. Please click on the tabs with the compass rose and double chevrons to remove the gray boxes.

The map above includes only the Marcellus Shale gas wells that were issued violations by the DEP in the dataset mentioned above. The number of violations per well range from 1 to 37, with smaller values depicted by small blue circles, while the most outrageous wells are large red circles. Obviously, there are some visible clusters in the southwest and northeast of the Commonwealth, because that is where the most wells are being drilled. But a closer look at the map reveals that wells with a lot of violations are actually fairly randomly distributed, with several of the worst offenders in the less productive central part of Pennsylvania (3).

Summary

The take-home message from these two maps is that while the production of gas from a well on your property can be predicted, wells that cause a lot of problems could happen anywhere. Moreover, there does not seem to be a correlation between the two, as some of the worst offenders are in parts of the Commonwealth where the Marcellus Shale play is relatively unproductive. If you have been approached by the industry’s landmen, then the decision of whether or not to lease is yours. Since the stakes are so high, getting a mineral rights lawyer is essential; if legal counsel seems too expensive, then the lease probably isn’t worth the negative impact of drilling anyway. If you are interested in hearing an offer, estimate the amount of gas that will be produced with the map above, plug the range of numbers into the royalty calculator (4), then decide whether moving forward with a lease is worthwhile for you or not.

  1. There are other factors that can be negotiated, including which geologic formations are included.
  2. This happens because there are two high density areas of production in the state, in the northeast and southwest. When the kriging computation was made, a high density area between these two areas was assumed, because there are not any low density production values in between. In short, it is due to the curve of the Marcellus Shale field in the state.
  3. I actually tried to krig this map as well, but the result was nonsense. It projected Philadelphia to be a high violation area, although the nearest Marcellus Shale well would be hundreds of miles away. This nonsensical map is consistent with a random distribution.
  4. The first royalty calculator that I looked for took itself offline because they noticed sharp decreases in production of natural gas after the first year, and wanted to get a handle on the rates of decline. This would indicate that a gas well might just be a short-term financial windfall, which should be another factor to consider.

PA Water Quality Monitoring Efforts – A Meeting Summary

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Pennsylvania side of the Delaware Water Gap

By Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH – CHEC

Despite the concerns that shale gas drilling can or has deteriorated our water quality in the Marcellus Shale region, I think it is also important to recognize the incredible efforts underway to improve and protect our water. A few weeks ago, I attended a Marcellus Shale Water Monitoring Programs Meeting hosted by the Somerset Conservation District in Johnstown, PA. Below is a summary of the meeting and future plans.

I want to first thank Melissa Reckner, Director of the Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team, for coordinating the meeting and allowing me to present during it.
One of the points that really struck me about this meeting and the Marcellus Shale drilling boom, in general, is the effect that this industry is having on water monitoring and private well water testing; according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), approximately a million households rely on private water supplies. Private wells are not regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, however. As a result, private wells can often contain contaminants such as coliform bacteria. Since shale gas drilling has increased in the Commonwealth, we have also seen an increase in the rate that people are testing their private water wells and monitoring surface water quality. Although this is mostly due to how close drilling can occur near drinking water sources and surface waters, as a public health professional, I am just glad to see that people are paying more attention to the quality of their water. Here is additional information about private water wells from the PADEP.


To give you a better idea of the extent of this meeting and the level of interest expressed regarding monitoring PA’s surface waters, below is a portion of the groups represented in the Johnstown Area Heritage Association’s beautiful building that day:

  • Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring (Dickinson College)
  • Armstrong Conservation District
  • Blacklick Creek Watershed Association
  • Cambria County Conservation District
  • Cambria County EMA
  • Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (Univ. of Pgh.)
  • Concurrent Technology Corp.
  • Evergreen Conservancy
  • Foundation for PA Watersheds
  • Greater Johnstown Water Authority
  • Johnstown Tribune-Democrat
  • Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team
  • Kiskiminetas Watershed Association
  • PA Department of Environmental Protection
  • PA Senior Environmental Corps
  • Shade Creek Watershed Association
  • Somerset Conservation District
  • Southern Alleghenies Conservancy
  • Southern Alleghenies Resource Conservation and Development Council
  • Stewardship and Sustainability for Goodness Sake
  • Stonycreek Conemaugh River Improvement Project
  • Trout Run Watershed Association
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Tubmill Trout Club
  • United Bowhunters of PA
  • University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the various watershed groups and organizations to the options presently available for collecting water monitoring data, ways to store and share that data (where FracTracker’s DataTool came in), and the training programs available to get people started.


ALLARM Volunteer Monitoring Protocol

Jinnie Woodward, Assistant Director of ALLARM – the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring at Dickinson College, provided a summary of ALLARM and highlighted their Marcellus Shale Gas Extraction Volunteer Monitoring Protocol that debuted in Bradford County this summer. Woodward said the objectives of ALLARM’s Marcellus Shale Monitoring Program are to:

  1. Provide an early detection of contamination in small streams, not rivers, because river dynamics are so variable;
  2. Prevent future environmental impacts through the presence of watchful residents; and
  3. Document stream quality.

The parameters that indicate contamination according to Woodward are: conductivity, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Barium, and Strontium. Volunteers can feasibly measure conductivity, TDS, and flow. Conductivity measures the ability of water to pass an electrical current. TDS measures the amount of ions dissolved in water. Monitoring both makes data more usable. Barium and Strontium occur naturally deep underground and are indicators of the presence of Marcellus Shale flowback fluid should it reach surface waters.

Volunteers can also conduct visual assessments of areas where they are monitoring. Visual assessments attempt to identify potential impacts and report suspicious activities. Impacts could include:

  • Earth Disturbances – at the well pad, storage and staging areas, streams, and access roads. Look for unstable outlets, sediment plumes, and little or no gravel on the roads.
  • Spills and discharges – Consider odor, discoloration, foam, bubbles, etc.
  • Water withdrawals, especially in unusually low flow areas – Interestingly, western PA does not have signs posted at streams indicating approved water withdrawal areas.
  • Gas migration or leakage – Look for bubbling.

ALLARM trains volunteers how to access permits from the PADEP and will help determine monitoring locations based on gas well location and stream access. Learn more about ALLARM’s water monitoring program here [link removed].


Water Quality Monitoring Joint Venture

[image removed]
Somerset Conservation District
Manager Len Lichvar with an
in-stream data logger prior to its
placement in a Somerset County
waterway. (Submitted photo)
Source: Daily American

Len Lichvar, District Manager of the Somerset Conservation District and Eric Null, Aquatic Biologist with the same, spoke of the District’s Water Quality Monitoring Joint Venture, of which the Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team and United States Geologic Survey (USGS) are primary partners.

Lichvar stated that over a year and a half ago, these partners started conversations on how to monitor Marcellus Shale and other pollution sources in an effort to be proactive, not reactive, and innovative, using technology, as was done decades ago with Abandoned Mine Drainage. These groups decided to utilize in-stream data loggers, manufactured by Solinst. These loggers can collect conductivity, temperature and water level.

While Marcellus Shale drove the initiative, it is useful for other types of pollution, including historic sources and new mines. This project can bring to light other issues and serve as an early warning system. It can also fill in data gaps. Lichvar emphasized the importance of prevention – potentially saving millions of dollars by warding of catastrophe – as opposed to fixing major environmental problems once they occur.

Objectives of the Water Quality Monitoring Joint Venture:

  1. Provide an efficient, continuous water quality monitoring network throughout Somerset County.
  2. Monitor other effects of deep mine seeps, Marcellus Shale drilling, and historic pollution sources.
  3. Establish a publicly accessible database.

The District is obtaining these objectives by:

  1. Deploying continuous recording data loggers.
  2. Strategically placing loggers in areas of known disturbance.
  3. Decreasing the number of volunteers necessary to monitor streams 24/7.
  4. Decreasing hours invested and the cost of monitoring.
  5. Partnering with USGS to incorporate this project with their data collection at water quality stations. (USGS will incorporate the District’s data onto their website and is retrofitting gauging stations in Somerset County to also collect conductivity in real-time.)

Null spoke about the rational for monitoring conductivity, from which TDS can be derived. Mining increases TDS, and Marcellus Shale flowback water has high TDS. Conductivity is a life-limiting factor. Null said coalmine discharges generate conductivity levels between 1,500-10,000 us/cm and that 3,500-5,500 us/cm is most common. He said 10,000 us/cm is the upper limit for freshwater life, but Marcellus Shale flowback water can have conductivity levels of over 50,000 us/cm, 5x the upper limit of freshwater life! Null had a copy of flowback data provided by a gas company. He noted that chlorides are the biggest component and threatens to turn our freshwater streams to saltwater.

The District has an established groundwater monitoring program in which water levels at 16 wells throughout Somerset County are monitored monthly. This year, the District purchased a $1,300 Solinst meter to not only monitor the water levels in these wells, but collect conductivity and temperature readings. The meter can detect slight seepage of TDS if it occurs in the wells.

Benefits of the data loggers:

  1. They can monitor conductivity levels from 0-80,000 us/cm (+/- 20 us/cm), making them very accurate.
  2. They can monitor in time increments of your choice. The District has their loggers set to monitor every 15 minutes, 24/7.
  3. The loggers have a 5-year battery life.
  4. They can store at least 30,000 data sets. The District downloads data every two weeks.
  5. They are small and portable.
  6. Only one person is needed to download data.
  7. One logger might equal the manpower of five volunteers.
  8. Temperature readings can also be used to show if a stream is a coldwater fishery!

The Somerset Conservation District now has eight loggers in its possession, six of which are deployed. The other two will be installed within the next two weeks. They are collecting baseline data. The USGS is retrofitting existing Hydrologic Stations with conductivity probes. There are five USGS stations in Somerset County. Three of them are currently online, streaming conductivity to the USGS website.

Lichvar and Null cautioned that if you see a spike, it could be historic pollution. Investigate the cause or source before ‘crying wolf’. Learn more about the data loggers here [link removed].


Trout Unlimited Marcellus Monitoring Training Program

David Sewak, Trout Unlimited’s Marcellus Shale Field Organizer, then presented. The PA Council of Trout Unlimited worked with ALLARM to create a Coldwater Conservation Corps (CCC), complete with field manuals and trainings.

Sewak is working with Trout Unlimited chapters across the state to host volunteer trainings. The trainings are one-day and include information about:

  • Marcellus Shale – what it is and where it is.
  • Erosion and sedimentation, and other issues with the industry that go beyond the well pad(s).
  • Water usage and land uses (Sewak said a vertical well might use 80,000 gallon of water per well, whereas a horizontal well can use up to 5 million gallons per well.)
  • Who to contact. Volunteers are not police, but reporters.
  • Maintain validity.
  • Safety.
  • Water monitoring (TDS, pH, temperature, cross sections).
  • Getting latitude/longitude for each monitoring site.

After lunch, participants receive hands-on training on how to use the equipment provided in each kit. Trout Unlimited chapters that host a training will receive two kits, and additional ones can be purchased for about $300.

Most Marcellus Shale activity is occurring where transmission lines are in place (Tioga and Green Counties). Trout Unlimited wants to get as many people as possible trained. Volunteers who are trained serve as stream stewards by accepting monitoring and surveillance responsibility for one or more stream segments. Each Trout Unlimited chapter should appoint a Marcellus Shale Coordinator who can manage data generated by CCC volunteers and serve as a liaison with Sewak, Deb Nardone, and the PATU environmental committee.

Sewak stated that local action tied into a larger strategy allows personalized inputs to connect to statewide effort. Baseline data are critical! He said data gathered will be synthesized with other data and incorporated into TU’s Conservation Success Index (CSI). Analysis will produce a blueprint for action to conserve fish, fisheries, and coldwater resources.

Upcoming TU trainings:

  • January 15 at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve in Latrobe (Forbes Trail TU)
  • January 29 in Dubois
  • February 12 in Washington County
  • March 19 in Lucinda (Clarion County)

You must pre-register for these trainings. The cost is only $17.50, which is an introductory rate of half the price of an adult TU membership. Volunteers must be TU members for liability reasons. Trout Unlimited will provide a Decision Tree pocket guide that provides guidelines for who (what agency) to approach when problems arise.

Trout Unlimited Chapters are working with counties to monitor Marcellus Shale activities and create more partnerships. At this time, Pennsylvania’s Trout Unlimited is not sharing information and data gathered with other states in Eastern U.S. only because PA is the only state with detailed data and an understanding of the topic.


FracTracker and its Trainings

FracTracker DataTool in use,
displaying pipeline incidents
Jan-July 2010.
(The pop-up box is showing info
about one record on the map.)

I then went on to discuss the features of FracTracker, not just as a data repository but also as a way to share information using maps. Learn more about how the system works by clicking here or visiting the DataTool directly.

The Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) is in charge of managing FracTracker – both the blog (this site) and DataTool components. We are also responsible for training people how to use it. If you would like to know how to navigate the blog and DataTool, upload and download data, and visualize that data into snapshots, please contact us! There is no charge to attend or request our training sessions. They typically last 3 hours and can be conducted for groups of 10 to 50 people. Venues must have Internet access so that participants can access the blog and DataTool online. CHEC has conducted training and informational sessions about FracTracker across PA, NY, OH, and WV, so geographic location is not an issue.

You can request a training in your area by contacting me directly: malone@fractracker.org, 412-624-9379. (Email requests preferred.)

What’s the Big Deal with FracTracker’s Snaphots?

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A picture might be worth a thousand words for most purposes, but when you are talking about spatial data, pictures are sometimes the only way to explain things. This goes well beyond the simple question of where things are, and into the realm of how things relate to one another. Fundamentally, what makes the snapshots on FracTracker’s DataTool so important is their ability to answer questions that users have about the oil and gas industry, and to share those results with everyone else.

So what kinds of questions can be answered with a FracTracker snapshot?

Comparative Analysis
Are the ozone monitoring stations going to detect Marcellus Shale activity? Marcellus Shale Wells and Ozone Monitoring Stations [link removed]

Finding Locations
Have there been any oil and gas violations near where I live? Pennsylvania DEP violations by well type [link removed]

Multiple Datasets
What is the extent of the Marcellus Shale gas industry when you cross state lines? Marcellus Shale: Drilled sites in PA and Approved Permits in WV [link removed]

Satellite Imagery
What does a full brine pit look like? Full Pit Near Evans City, PA [link removed]

How accurate are the location data on FracTracker? Well Site Closeup Near Evans City, PA [link removed]

Understanding Impacts
It seems like there is gas drilling activity everywhere. Are some locations more affected by the industry than others? Total Violations by County, Utah [link removed]

Recap of the GSPH Shale Gas Conference (Afternoon)

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If you were unable to attend the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s all day conference, Health Effects of Shale Gas Extraction: What is known, and what can we predict?, here is a recap of the afternoon sessions for you provided by CHEC’s staff.
Program | Morning Summary | Afternoon Summary (below) | Presentation Videos | Survey Results

“Air Quality Monitoring Strategies”

Robert Field, PhD, a research scientist at the University of Wyoming’s Department of Atmospheric Science, spoke about factors leading to the creation of wintertime ozone in Sublette County, Wyoming. The sudden appearance of the phenomenon was surprising to residents, since ozone is usually an urban problem during the summertime. Dr. Field examined the link between the ozone production and the natural gas industry in the state.

The conditions to create ozone are known, and include the presence of ozone precursors, sunlight, and other atmospheric conditions. Rural Wyoming made for a convenient laboratory to determine the scope of the contribution of the gas industry, because unlike Pennsylvania, it was not already present in the air from other industrial activities. Dr. Field indicated that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has already been using the information to predict days favorable to the creation of ozone, and has even worked to prevent it by asking operators to limit their polluting activities on those days.

Responding to questions from the audience, Dr. Field indicated that environmental conditions in Pennsylvania are less favorable for wintertime ozone in particular, although ozone in the summer remains a concern.

“Addressing Combined Effects of Air Pollution and Social Stressors Exposures on Health in Communities Affected by Natural Gas Fracturing”

Jane Clougherty, MSc, ScD, a new faculty member of the University of Pittsbrugh’s Graduate School of Public Health, presented Friday on her previous work concerning air monitoring in New York City and the culmination of indirect impacts to various users. Dr. Clougherty’s work focused on air pollution monitoring schemes, needs and assumptions of air monitoring for multiple-source emissions.

Passive ambient air monitoring can produce powerful data if strong variability is present, as well as numerous monitoring locations. The focus of her talk was not to demonstrate how monitoring could be implemented in or around gas extraction sites, but was to provide a case study to encompass impacts across communities and regions and how stress can relate to these various levels. Indirect or non-primary effects, social stressors, and potentially synergistic social-environmental effects, can certainly apply to the Marcellus Shale boom. Health research has indicated that chronic stress can affect the immune, endocrine, and respiratory systems, and even susceptibility to the common cold. Dr. Clougherty implied very well that the indirect effects of a new industry – such as natural gas extraction – can among other impacts, lead to stressed social interactions. These types of interactions include increases in:
  • heavy construction,
  • truck and vehicular traffic,
  • noise,
  • services demanded, and
  • potential changes in community coercion and composition.

Her research and others have suggested that social stressors combined with pollution exposures may act synergistically by altering an individual’s susceptibility.

Dr. Clougherty proposed that in addressing impacts such as those posed by this industry, we must look at all of the affected users. Her examples included the end users in the New York City limits. City officials have proposed regulations to ban the use of lower quality heating fuels, stating that just 1 percent of NYC buildings account for about 87 percent of the pollution attributed to the combustion of these oils. Regulations would encourage cleaner burning sources, such as natural gas. This could positively affect pollution levels in these areas, specifically Manhattan, though upfront costs remain an issue. This example demonstrates a positive end user effect for the people of NYC, that Dr. Clougherty claims must be added to the impacts equation. However, she also stresses this is not panacea for energy consumption; renewable energy should be the focus.

Understanding social-environmental interactions is a complex and entangled field of study. It is crucial that researchers like Dr. Clougherty are working on these issues and are asking provocative questions while proposing multi-factorial grand perspectives.

“Short-Term Air Quality Impacts from Marcellus Shale Operations in Southwest PA”

Chief of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PA DEP) Air Quality Monitoring Division, Nick Lazor, addressed the Department’s efforts to conduct short term air quality sampling near Marcellus Shale drilling operations. The PA DEP sampled five counties in Southwestern PA using an array of gas chromatography and mass and infrared spectroscopy instruments to assess concentrations of ambient (outdoor) air target pollutants.

Preliminary data indicates methane, propane, ethane, and benzene were present at Marcellus Shale compressor sites. Additionally, methyl-mercaptan was detected above odor threshold, while carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and ozone were not detected above National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The PA DEP recognizes the importance of this initiative and plans to evaluate further monitoring efforts after a comparative analysis between all five sites has been concluded.

“Use of Health Impact Assessment to Help Inform Decision Making Regarding Natural Gas Drilling Permits in Colorado” (Roxana Witter, MD, MSPH; John Adgate, PhD; and Jim Rada)

Previously, Samantha Malone wrote a blog post about their presentations after attending the American Public Health Association conference in Denver, CO this year. Check it out!

“Spatial Data Infrastructure for Evaluating the Health Impact of Gas Well Drilling in North Texas”

David Sterling, PhD, CIH is the Director or the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health. Dr. Sterling knows Texas because he is from Texas and there are issues in Fort Worth, Texas due to the development of the Barnett Shale. Over-development has resulted in close proximity of drilling and wells to homes, elementary schools, other buildings, and other populated locations. Conducting retrospective (after-the-fact) exposure analyses on these types of locations can provide starting points for hypotheses.

Drilling in the Barnett Shale has occurred since the 1970s, and in densely populated areas, including Denton, Tarrant, and Johnson counties since 1999. There are over 16,000 wells in these counties, 26,000 wells in the Barnett shale and other shales, and 20,000 permitted wells. Current issues involve encroaching proximity. High benzene levels have been measured in Dish, TX, and other locations such as on an organic goat farm.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) maintains monitoring website for air emissions but more information and the development of a spatial data infrastructure is necessary for air and hydro (water) models. The data collection also needs to be reported, made visual, and have transparency. One of the many research goals should be to connect this data with health outcomes. Data challenges in the Barnett region include gathering good population estimates, information on how many wells are contaminated, and getting hold of malleable data. And finally, Dr. Sterling emphasized the need for this information to be available for decision makers.

“Research Methods and Results of the Baseline Socioeconomic Study of the Impact of Marcellus in Pennsylvania”

Teri Ooms is the Executive Director of The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development. Ms. Ooms recently undertook a project to assess the current social and economic conditions relating to gas well development in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania, with the goal of obtaining baseline data for future longitudinal assessment of subsequent community changes that occur in Appalachian counties. The study consisted of a survey of Marcellus residents and interviews with key informants (elected and appointed leaders, representatives of human service and educational agencies, and civic organizations) in five Pennsylvania counties (Lackawanna, Luzerne, Westmoreland, Greene, and Susquehanna) and five counties in other shale-rich states (Texas and Arkansas). This study was conducted to gather and assess the perceptions of current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts associated with large scale natural gas development.

Of the many study results that Ms. Ooms discussed, people living in the Marcellus region generally knew very little about the nature and development of the industry. Few people actually sought out objective information from authoritative sources. Many felt that as a result of the industry coming into PA, the quality of their natural environment and drinking water would worsen, while employment options and training would improve. Ms. Ooms noted there was tension within communities because of varying lease and royalty rates and tension when there is a separation between land ownership and mineral rights (called a “split estate”). Most participants supported a severance tax in PA, and almost all of them agreed that if a severance tax is enacted, some of the money should be allocated for local government expenses.

Results from Texas and Arkansas both indicated that people felt there were strong economic benefits to drilling. The separation of land and mineral rights has also created tension in those states. Participants have seen education programs change to help local people obtain industry jobs. Other problems identified by those participants are similar to those highlighted by PA participants. You can find out more about the Institute and its study here.

“How Should We Think About the Economic Consequences of Shale Gas Drilling?”

Susan Christopherson, PhD is an economic geographer whose research and teaching focus on economic development, urban labor markets, and location patterns in service industries, particularly the media industries. According to Dr. Christopherson’s presentation, the southern tier of New York state is already experiencing the impact of the Marcellus Shale boom. Truck traffic has increased and land values are rising, even though drilling is located in Pennsylvania and still excluded from New York. Money is coming into these areas and those surrounding areas with active drilling, but certain questions need to be answered, including: “What is the cost? For what period? What jobs will be created? What are the long-term outcomes?”

In order to appropriately address these questions, the factors that influence the pace and scale of drilling must be determined. These can include transportation costs, industry competition, regulatory capacity and requirements, taxes, and shortages. Current policy is projecting a boom and bust cycle from the shale gas drilling industry. The drilling cycle is “front-end” loaded, to drill as quickly as possible while Pennsylvania does not have a severance tax. Fifty percent of the total gas produced by a well is extracted within the first year, and production beyond five years is uncertain. The repetitive short-term process of drilling multiple wells must be considered, which means the majority of jobs are only temporary. Also, Dr. Christopherson advised analyzing the spending patterns for landowners who have received lease money. Large sums, rather than multiple disbursements, have the potential to be splurged.

The total cost to the communities has not been fully realized. Funding for schools and roads are currently the only area where there is any leverage from established policy. The boom and bust cycle will strain local economic systems. After the bust, communities are left with too many schools, police, teachers, and services without a population and funds to support them. Responsible economic development comes from population growth, income growth, and economic diversity. In gas-producing counties, incomes actually grow more slowly. Evidence from western states shows less economic diversity and decreased ability for alternative investments in counties with drilling. On the other hand, economies in Texas grow when drilling and gas production expands in other states, because Texas is center for executive operations of the natural gas industry and therefore has the highest paying jobs. Plans to prevent accelerated, short-term production cycles need to be proposed. Policy does matter! Communities need to be savvy to industry activity and plans. Local economies need to capture all available revenues, ensure remediation, and set up tax systems.

Conversation with participants about the gaps in the science and future directions from the afternoon speakers

Conrad Dan Volz, DrPH, MPH was the moderator for the afternoon sessions. Due to time restrictions, audience questions and research gaps are being requested in a follow up survey. Would you like to contribute your own comments about the conference? If so, fill out this survey. [link removed]

Conference Summary Blog Post Contributors

Is there a Link between Earthquakes and Shale Gas Drilling?

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This page has been archived. It is provided for historical reference only.

By Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH – Communications Specialist, CHEC, GSPH; DrPH Student, GSPH

While we don’t typically post about earthquakes on FracTracker’s blog, as public health professionals, we should be prepared for such incidents. Apparently, various towns have reported unusual seismic activity near shale gas drilling operations. For example, Residents in Guy, Arkansas are experiencing “swarms” of earthquakes – sometimes at rates of three to four a minute. While this isn’t the first time in history that the town, which sits in the middle of a tectonic plate in the Fayetteville Shale, has had an earthquake, residents cite the natural gas industry as the cause. (The deputy director of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission sees circumstantial evidence related to the deep well injection that is occurring there, as well.) The true trigger of these minor earthquakes is the focus of researchers from the University of Memphis and the Arkansas Geological Survey.

A quick Internet search shows that similar speculations about the link between the natural gas industry and earthquakes have been voiced in West Virginia, Texas, and several other states experiencing an influx of deep well injection (a liquid waste disposal system). Is there really a connection between the two? Do the geologic formations that make shale gas drilling possible have higher rates of earthquakes naturally? (Probably not in PA based on the hazard map produced by the USGS.)

The map below from the DataTool shows all of the shale gas plays in the continental U.S. By clicking on the “i” in the gray toolbar and then on a pink region, you can inspect each play. Just click “view” when the pop-up box appears to learn more.
[map removed]

Presently, we do not have drilling data from the Fayetteville Shale on FracTracker. If any person / organization has already obtained this information and would like to share it, we invite you to upload it onto FracTracker’s DataTool (Registration is required on our site, but at least it is free.)

Here is a quick list of articles from Google Scholar about induced seismicity if you’re interested, and a really interesting documentary website about people who live and work in shale gas plays across the U.S.

Recap of GSPH’s Shale Gas Conference (Morning)

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If you were unable to attend the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s all day conference, Health Effects of Shale Gas Extraction: What is known, and what can we predict?, here is a recap of the morning sessions for you provided by CHEC’s staff.

Program | Morning Summary (below) | Afternoon Summary | Presentation VideosSurvey Results

“Health and Safety Considerations in the Extraction of Fossil Fuels”

Bernard Goldstein, MD is a professor in GSPH’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, as well as the school’s past dean. Dr. Goldstein started off the conference with a discussion about the need for public health, government, and industry to use proper risk communication techniques when discussing risk of natural gas drilling with the public. For example, if the industry had openly discussed the ingredients of the fluid used to hydraulically fracture the shale and the purposes of those ingredients when hydraulic fracturing was first used, for example, it would have prevented a significant amount of [often times] unnecessary fear regarding the fact that the exact composition of each company’s well stimulation mixture is proprietary (a trade secret).

Additionally, Dr. Goldstein called for public health to conduct prospective research on the potential public health impacts of shale gas drilling, because it is difficult to make connections retrospectively (looking back).

He also noted that Pennsylvania is at disadvantage when it comes to our public health workforce (the folks with the expertise and know-how to look out for the welfare of PA residents). – Only 6 of 67 counties in PA have a public health authority, and we have the smallest workforce in this field of any state in the U.S. In essence, “PA is a third world country in relation to its inadequate public health workforce.”

“Inorganic Geochemistry of Marcellus Shale Hydrofracturing Waters”

Carl S. Kirby, PhD began his presentation by defining the terms “slick water” and “frack-water”, since the chemistry of each is so different. Slick water consists of water, proppant, and slicking agents that are pumped down into the drilled well. Frack water identifies the liquids returning up to the surface after hydrofracturing has been completed. This liquid includes the slick water, as well as a concentration of brine water from within the well. The concentration of brine is largely irregular, and depends upon the geochemistry of the drilled strata, and the amount of time the slick water remained in the well bore, before returning as frack water. The extent of dissolution of salts/brines in the frack water is a major concern, since the current treatments of frack water do not provide an assurance that these chemicals can be removed from the frack water. Therefore, the options for frack water are storage, recycling and reusing, transporting the frack water to be treated at specialized facilities, or reinjection. Much of the frack water goes to Ohio where it is injected into deep wells – a method the industry calls a “closed loop.”

The chemical characteristics of frack water are dominated by high TDS, specifically: Na, Ca, Cl, Ba, Sr, and low concentrations of Mg, SO4. The frack water is radioactive, and has a pH in the 5-8 range, which is rather neutral. A Durov diagram was presented to show the signature of anions and cations. Some frack waters are also 1/3 solids. The volume of flowback frack water is very high at first and then slows down while salinity is thought to increase dramatically with time, although there is currently not enough data to confirm the increasing salinity. The radioactivity was investigated; the gross alpha is typically due to radon gas, which is short-lived. The gross beta on the other hand is of higher concern, as it typically signifies radium, which remains particulate-bound.

Technologies are available to characterize certain aspects of the drilling, fracking, and production phases of natural gas production. Hydro-geological modeling with the geochemical program PhreeqC has been conducted by Dr. Kirby’s work group. Modeling results indicate that the main source of iron (Fe) is pyrite, while the main source of barium (Ba) is from organic acids. Other techniques are also available to help prevent environmental degradation. Using conductivity to investigate leaks in the frack water infrastructure is a possibility, but one would have to be careful when interpreting changes in surface water quality. In particular, conductance is non-specific, and there is also the potential for lack of mixing in surface water such that the monitors miss the event.

“Trace Metal Chemistry of the Marcellus Shale”

Tracy Bank, PhD discussed the chemistry of the Marcellus, beginning with the geology of the formation. Shale is a sedimentary (meaning deposition) rock type consisting of a fine-grained composition of a mixture of minerals. Though mostly clay minerals exist, metals species can exist in varying amounts. The Marcellus Shale is considered a black shale that was formed in relatively deep waters, devoid of oxygen. Trapped decaying matter in and around these areas nearly 400 million years ago lent to the conservation of natural gas, oil, and coal. Conditions that conserve organic matter also favor the conservation of redox sensitive metals such as; iron, zinc, molybdenum, and uranium.

The solubility of metals, meaning the ability to form a homogeneous solution or become mobilized with water (solvent) for instance, is partly dependent on the amount of oxygen, amount of pressure, and availability of a solvent. Dr. Bank’s research focused on the solubility of uranium, and in her presentation on Friday, she explained that the solubility of uranium is dependent upon redox conditions. Also the concentrations of uranium, for instance, are higher where there are higher levels of total organic carbon, and higher levels of natural gas is certainly what industry is seeking. Redox reactions, in short, describe the changing of a molecule’s oxidation number, commonly in the form of a gain or loss of electrons.

Dr. Bank presented that the shale layer and rock formations thousands of feet underground, are surely lacking oxygen, and thus are in a reducing redox state. When large amounts of pressure and water are introduced into these underground formations by fracing, the oxidation states and reducing conditions can be altered leading to the mobilization of uranium, iron, and zinc. This can and does happen naturally to rock layers exposed to weathering, as it does in the Marcellus Shale outcrops. Dr. Bank’s previous work, focused on Superfund sites containing relatively much higher levels of uranium and other radioactive contamination. Interesting to note, that in those projects – to clean contaminated areas – the bioremediation efforts focus on creating reducing redox conditions; the opposite of what fracing induces.

“Unconventional Gas Extraction in Legacy, Energy Production Landscapes: Uncertainties in History, contamination, and Interactions”

Dan Bain, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Planetary Science at the University of Pittsburgh addressed the correlation of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s legacy landscapes and natural gas extraction. An important public health concern is the potential for the interaction of varying water compositions used in the Marcellus Shale production process and mobilization (or movement) of metals through legacy surface sediment i.e. sediment resultant from the effects of coal mining on the region. According to Dr. Bain, sediment drives most chemical interactions at the water-sediment interface. Therefore, it is critical to continue to monitor ground and surface water for increases in metal content. The mobilization of sodium is of particular concern to riparian ecosystems.

As coal mining left its imprint on the region, gas extraction from Marcellus Shale will undoubtedly leave another set of legacy sediment types. Dr. Bain proposes that continued research regarding comprehension of flood plains and near surface bed rock is necessary to appropriately model possible outcomes from movement of industry specific waters through legacy sediment.

“Water Management Challenges in Marcellus Shale Gas Production”

John Veil presented information based on his work funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. First, background information about shale gas and how it is developed was presented. The types of gas exploration include coal bed methane, conventional on-shore and off-shore, gas associated with crude oil, unconventional on-shore, and net imports. Mr. Veil stated that the contribution of shale gas is bound to expand. Shale is located in many places in US, and the most significant are the: Barnett (Texas), Fayetteville (Arkansas), Antrim Shale (Michigan), Haynesville (Louisiana), Marcellus (Northeast U.S.), and Woodford (Oklahoma). There are also shales located in Canada, the Horn River Shale in British Columbian, and Nontney Shale in British Columbia and Alberta. The steps in the shale gas extraction process include: gaining access to the gas through property leasing or acquisition, searching for natural gas, preparing the site, drilling the well, preparing a well for production (includes hydraulic fracturing), and finally gas production and water management.

Mr. Veil then elaborated on water issues:

  • During site preparation, storm water runoff should be considered from all land areas disturbed during construction, which includes following proper sediment control practices and stabilizing exposed surfaces (generally prepared with gravel). Different operators follow different degrees of storm water management.
  • Water is also necessary for the drilling fluids and can range from 1 million gallons in the Haynesville Shale to 60,000 gallons in the Fayetteville Shale. The amount of water depends on the types of drilling fluids used and the depth and horizontal extent of the wells. The Marcellus Shale drilling volume falls near the lower end of this range at 800,000 gallons per well. Drilling waste is then sent to lined pits.
  • Hydraulic fracturing is another major water issue. The water needed for a single well in the Marcellus region may require 1 to 5 million gallons. Individual well volumes of water are generally not a critical issue, but collectively can be important within a region. Sources of water can be a stream, river or lake, ground water well, impoundment created by the producer, and a public water supply. Pipelines or tanker trucks (more often) can deliver water to the site. Water is then deposited in impoundments or tanks.

Fracturing (or stimulation) of the well, involves pumping large volumes of water, sand, and additives under high pressure into the well in stages. This process is monitored in real-time, recording the pressures and temperatures during each stage. After fracturing is complete, there is a period of time where water will flow back to the surface in two stages. First, there is the large volume of “flow back fluids” that return to the surface in the first few hours or days, typically collected into pits or ponds. Some larger sites collect flow back fluid in brine tanks where it is filtered and reused to fracture other wells. The second stage is when the “produced water” returns to the surface, slowing in volume over time. This low flow is stored in tanks and picked up by tanker trucks. Collected water must be removed from site by tank truck and hauled off site to commercial disposal wells or waste water treatment plants. Injection wells are another method of disposal. Commercial injection wells are not viable solutions in PA, but there are several in Ohio, causing high truck traffic back and forth between the states.

Mr. Veil discussed how much water would be needed in a high production year. He stated that it is hard to predict the maximum number of wells, but that the report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), goes back to the year 2005 and does accurate measurements. The totals for the three states of PA, WV, and NY are about 25 millions of gallons/day. The total water withdrawal is 7,457 million gallons per day annually, which means that less than 1% of the total water supply is used. That means there is ample water in the Marcellus region for well drilling, but water needs and considerations will differ according to geographic location and the season.

“Long-Term and Cumulative Assessment of the Impact of Marcellus Shale Drilling”

Michel Boufadel, Ph.D., P.E., Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from Temple University, spoke about factors leading to the movement and retention of flowback water in his presentation. Dr. Boufadel indicated that this can happen from the bottom of the well up during injection and fracturing, as well as from the ground down in the case of pit leaks.

Although the typical Marcellus Shale well is 7,000 feet deep, the earth is highly fractured, and when the flowback water is injected or hydraulically fractured at pressures up to 10,000 psi (pounds per square inch), it is possible for this water to migrate up thousands of feet, depending on the connectivity of the faults and joints.

The other method for flowback water migration is the possibility of pit spills. Dr. Boufadel stressed that most current models are inadequate, because they do not account for the high density of the brine. Because of this, the flowback water tends to seep deeper in the ground than fresh water would, and remain in the aquifers longer. In addition, shallow sensors may not be able to detect the contamination for years.

Conversation with participants about the gaps in the science and future directions from the morning speakers

Radisav Vidic, PhD, PE was the moderator for the morning sessions. Dr. Vidic did an exceptional job guiding the speakers and discussions with the audience, despite the tensions present. The first part of this session involved summarizing the morning’s presentations.  During the second part of his session, participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and provide their input on what seems is missing from the repository of shale gas research.

Questions and Research Gaps Identified by the Audience:

  • Translation of data to information is important. We need to assemble cohorts (research groups) to gather background information in order to guide proper risk communication.
  • Companies dealing with “frac water” (the fluids produced after wells are stimulated) are promising that their water purification techniques can produce potable water and salt (e.g. for deer licks). What is the quality of the water coming out of these plants? Is the salt safe for animal consumption or use on the roads during wintertime? How should the components of the treated fluids that their systems claim to be able to filter out be handled?
  • Secretary Hanger of the PA DEP has referred to drilling companies as A, B, C students, meaning that some are better than others. Regardless, all of the companies have caused violations in PA.
  • The time between peer review and addressing community concerns is too much. Additionally, people have trouble understanding what peer reviewed research actually says anyway.
  • Has anyone calculated the amount of carbon dioxide we’ve put into the atmosphere from these operations collectively from the beginning of the process to the end?
  • Would you like to contribute your own comments about the conference? A link to the survey will be available soon.

Conference Summary Blog Post Contributors

  • Charles Christen, DrPH, MEd
  • Kyle Ferrar, MPH
  • Shannon Kearney, MPH, CPH
  • Matt Kelso
  • Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH
  • Drew Michanowicz, MPH, CPH

FracTracker Visualizes Violations of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act by Congressional District

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By: C. D. Volz, DrPH, MPH

John Dawes of the Environmental Integrity Project put up a very useful dataset onto FracTracker’s DataTool showing the geographical location of congressional districts. I have visualized this dataset along with locations of violations of the PA Oil and Gas Act across the state. One can get further information on each congressional district and the violations in them by clicking on the “i” button and then on the map to see details. Some of these violations are especially serious and include brine and wastewater entering the surface waters of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These pollution events can certainly have an effect on downstream municipal water sources-individually and collectively.

Denver, CO – Final Days of the APHA Conference

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By Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH – Communications Specialist, Center for Healthy Environments & Communities (CHEC) of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), & DrPH Student, GSPH

During the final days of the APHA Conference and my trip to Colorado, I spent a lot of time working on the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s (GSPH) upcoming conference on the potential public health effects of shale gas extraction (registration has closed).

I also spent time learning more about how people in CO and surrounding states view shale gas drilling, especially the perspectives of public health professionals attending the conference.

Interestingly, my conversations and observations revealed something entirely different than I expected. A “Blue Bear” in the window, you could say (photo left). The conference attendees I spoke with did not seem nearly as concerned as many people I converse with here within the Marcellus Shale play. Perhaps this is because shale gas drilling (in the form we are seeing in the Marcellus right now) started earlier in the western and southwestern states, and the shale plays are much smaller in other parts of the country. (Don’t worry. I openly acknowledge that I have a bit of a sampling bias in assessing how often Marcellus concerns crop up during conversation around me. Try sitting at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner table with me.)

Being as unbiased as I could, it seemed that local professionals in Colorado view shale gas drilling as a “necessary evil.” They figure, if it is going to happen, they should know the most intimate details. As a result, some of the researchers and groups in those portions of the U.S. are actively involving industry in their research and outreach efforts. Perhaps this is an approach Marcellus-based organizations should take. I wonder how often it is already occurring in our region, and I would love your feedback about this inquiry.

As a I said, some researchers are working with gas drilling companies to address their academic research needs. Below is a quick summary of a presentation by Roxana Witter, MD, MSPH that utilized industry and community input. I won’t go into the dirty details because Dr. Witter, Jim Rada, and John Adgate, PhD will be presenting the entire results of their work at GSPH’s conference this Friday. You can read the abstract of Dr. Witter’s APHA presentation here: Use of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to Help Inform Decision Making Regarding Natural Gas Drilling Permits in Colorado.

Battlement Mesa Health Impact Assessment

In a study by Roxana Witter, MD, MSPH; Jim Rada, BS, REHS; Kaylan Stinson, MSPH; Kenneth Scott, MPH; John Adgate, PhD; and Lee Newman, MD, MA (don’t you just love all of those credentials?) – a health impact assessment was conducted in Battlement Mesa, Garfield County, CO.  During the APHA conference, Dr. Witter reported that the study area previously experienced what is called a “boom and bust” of natural gas drilling. In case you are interested, the tendency for this industry to follow a “boom and bust” cycle is discussed in the following article: “Energy Boomtowns & Natural Gas” PDF. Recent interest by a drilling company triggered the request of an HIA to help guide land use decision making.

In 2005, Jim Rada began conducting ambient (outside) air monitoring for particulates and other contaminants. At this time, Rada educated citizens and also encouraged dialogues between the industry and citizens. The formal health assessment began in 2009. In addition to their own epidemiological (health-by-numbers) investigations, the researchers held stakeholder meetings with citizens, state agencies, and industry to gather their input and perspectives. The researchers were able to release a draft of the HIA in September 2010, where it was open for public comment until recently (this week, I believe). Look for the final HIA soon. Essentially, the draft HIA shows that quality of health was not significantly affected, but the community felt some impacts:

  • Increase in violent crimes
  • Chlamydia cases doubled (a sexually transmitted bacterial infection)
  • School enrollment increased

The researchers also conducted a Health Risk Assessment to identify potential problems down the road. They looked a eight (8) major areas of concern based on the stakeholder meetings: air quality, water quality, traffic, noise, economic conditions, social conditions, health infrastructure, and accidents/malfunction.

Of those, the researchers identified four key areas of concern based on available data (shown in descending order below) that pose the highest risk of producing negative health impacts:

  1. Air quality
  2. Traffic
  3. Water quality
  4. Community wellness (defined by looking at “crime rates, mental health, substance abuse and suicide, occurrence of sexually transmitted infection,  and enrollment in K-12 education”)

Like I said, Dr. Witter and her colleagues will go into more detail about this on Friday. I would hate to be a complete spoiler. Just in case you missed the cutoff for registration for that conference, no fear, the video of the conference will be posted on this blog and on the conference website.

And finally, I discussed some of my impressions about CO and a lot about FracTracker’s DataTool (now archived) during an interview on Penn State’s Sustainability Now radio show. It aired live on Friday, November 11th from 4-5 pm (while I was visiting Breckenridge) on The Lion 90.7 fm.

Third blog post out of three. Read the first and second.