Study Finds Unconventional Natural Gas Development Associated With Hospitalizations for Urinary Problems

Various studies have indicated
that an increase in unconventional natural gas development can lead to a
paralleled rise in certain health problems, including asthma, childhood cancer
and pneumonia in the elderly. However, these studies all
targeted specific conditions, and no broad analysis had yet been performed to
look for additional associations that may be less obvious. Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and
Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences recently
used data from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Pennsylvania
Unconventional Gas Wells Geodatabase of the Marcellus Shale and hospital
discharge records from 2003 to 2014 from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost
Containment Council PHC4 database to determine if the increase in unconventional
natural gas development in certain areas led to an increase in hospitalizations
by types of diagnosis. The time frame spans the period before Marcellus gas
well development began to the period after the height of well drilling. The PCH4 data included
the patient’s county of residence and the primary diagnosis.

Study Finds Low-level Exposure to Produced Water has Minimal Effect on Aquatic Life

The hydraulic fracturing process requires water and chemicals to be pumped beneath the earth’s surface at high pressures to “free” natural gas that is trapped in tight rock formations. When the fluid comes back up to the surface, it is known as produced water. Produced water can contain a number of chemicals including, but not limited to, ions, heavy metals, inorganic solids, and trace radionuclides. When produced water is accidentally spilled or otherwise discharged, it can harm the environment, especially aquatic life.

Noise Pollution from Unconventional Oil and Gas Developments May Have an Effect on Public Health

Shale gas development, like many other heavy industries, is known to produce noise. Construction equipment, motors, engines, and traffic associated with well pad development can all create sounds that may prove to be nuisances. And while residents near wells have raised concerns regarding noise pollution from shale gas development, limited research on the subject has been conducted.

Unconventional Natural Gas Developments Associated with Higher Levels of Pediatric Asthma Cases

Pediatric asthma is a common medical condition that is often related to air quality. Past studies have shown that an increase in unconventional natural gas developments such as hydraulic fracturing can lead to a paralleled increase in air pollutants in the areas of such developments, and these pollutants can potentially affect the respiratory health of those living nearby. Thus, researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences utilized data from the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale and Pennsylvania Department of Health from 2003 to 2014 to see if the increase in unconventional natural gas developments has led to an increase in pediatric (ages 18 and under) asthma-related hospital visits. Consideration of zip code was included in order to distinguish rural and urban areas, as urban areas are known to have higher levels of air pollutants even prior to the introduction of unconventional natural gas developments. Urban areas were then excluded from this study. A total of 29 Pennsylvania counties were included in the study, covering 5649 unconventional natural gas development wells and 15,837 pediatric asthma-related hospitalizations.

District Attorneys go to Court to Block Flow of Contaminated Gas Drilling Leachate to Treatment Plant

Two Western Pennsylvania district attorneys in May took the unusual step of going to court to block a Westmoreland County landfill from sending water contaminated with gas drilling waste to a nearby treatment plant. The contaminated water, known as leachate, from the
Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill, is primarily precipitation that soaks through the landfill contents, picking up contamination. It is collected and piped to the Belle Vernon Municipal Authority’s treatment plant, and then discharged into the Monongahela River, which is a source of drinking water for residents in
four counties.

EQT Violations Raise Awareness for Sedimentation Control

In dealing with the Municipal Separate Strom Sewer System (MS4), which are state-level stormwater requirements to meet federal Clean Water Act standards, and its permitting requirements, local communities understand better than most how important sediment control is to water quality and how strictly these permitting requirements are regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Local governments, however, are not the only sector beholden to state-level stormwater permitting and regulation. Recently, EQT was fined just over $330,000 for a series of DEP permit violations including failure to control sedimentation runoff, as well as failure to report the runoff. The violations were discovered in February of 2018 in Forward Township, Allegheny County. EQT, based in Pittsburgh, is the country’s largest producer of natural gas.

What are “Superemitters” & Why are they Important to Keeping PA’s Air Clean?

The rapid development of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania has induced a series of new concerns for those living in the state and Marcellus region. Of these worries, emissions from well sites have garnered much attention, particularly methane emissions. Methane is one of the main components of the natural gas harvested through unconventional drilling’s hydraulic fracturing process. Though extractors have safeguards to prevent any leakage of the gas, these systems do have failures. The EPA reports that the natural gas and petroleum industry were responsible for 31% of the total methane emissions in 2017, the highest of any category recorded.

API Report Shows Decrease in Pipeline Incidents while Productivity Rise

The American Petroleum Institute has released their Liquids Pipeline Performance Report, tracking various metrics related to oil and natural gas pipelines over the past five years. Using data provided by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the report’s findings indicates a positive trend in production, while incidents have fallen. Pipeline safety is an ever-salient topic in the minds of Pennsylvanians. As natural gas development continues to sweep across the Commonwealth, many residents have developed a fear of the industry, especially pipelines. Their fears are not unwarranted, however.