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Air, noise, and light monitoring results for assessing environmental impacts of horizontal gas well drilling operations (ETD-10-project).

McCawley M
Charleston, WV: West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection 2013 May; :1-206
The West Virginia Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act of 2011 required determination of the effectiveness of a 625 foot set-back from the center of the pad of a horizontal well drilling site. An investigation was conducted at seven drilling sites to collect data on dust, hydrocarbon compounds and on noise, radiation and light levels. The findings are: 1. Measurements of air contaminants in this study were taken to characterize levels that might be found at 625 feet from the well pad center at unconventional gas drilling sites during the activities at those sites. 2. There were detectable levels of dust and volatile organic compounds found to be present at the set-back distance. 3. The duration of the specific activity of interest at each of the sites was a week or less. This time constraint did not allow comparison of the collected data to limits in the NAAQS and therefore did not allow recommendations to be made for a setback distance based on the NAAQS values. 4. Some benzene concentrations were, however, found to be above what the CDC calls the "the minimum risk level for no health effects." This is a concern for potential health effects that might arise due to these exposures over a long time. 5. One or all of the BTEX (i.e. organic chemicals Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylenes) compounds were found at all drilling sites-which is similar to what other studies have reported. It appears that any of these compounds could come from diesel emissions rather than from drilling at the well pad, but diesel traffic is still part of the activity on all the sites and needs to be taken into account. 6. Not all of the studied contaminants emanate from the center of the pad so any new regulations might consider a different reference point or points (such as roadways) from which to measure the setback distance (other State setbacks and their possibly more appropriate points of reference are discussed in Appendix E). 7. Light levels, measured as skyglow were zero during night time and ionizing radiation levels measured from filtered airborne particulate were near zero as well. 8. The average noise levels calculated for the duration of the work at each site, were not above the recommended 70dBA level recommended by the EPA for noise exposure. 9. The noise at some locations was above that allowed by EPA regulation for vehicles engaged in interstate commerce and other local limits such as the noise limits for Jefferson County, WV or the city of Morgantown, WV. 10. A health effects-based setback distance proposal might require a study with a lengthy (3 years or more) sampling effort, greater detail in the chemical analysis, a larger number of sites and some effort to assure that the sites represent the range of exposures that a typical population could experience. 11. Without more appropriate sampling periods than the three year averaging period required for the NAAQS or a health effects study, monitoring in the area of the drilling activity could be undertaken by the industry and used by the industry to assure control of emissions.
Drilling; Dusts; Hydrocarbons; Noise; Radiation; Light absorption; Air contamination; Gases; Volatiles; Organic compounds; Benzenes; Benzene; Exposure levels; Health effects; Diesel emissions; Filters; Airborne particulates; Particulates; Noise exposure; Sampling methods; Emission sources
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Air Quality, 601 57th Street, SE Charleston, WV 25304
71-43-2; 108-88-3; 100-41-4; 1330-20-7
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Air, noise, and light monitoring results for assessing environmental impacts of horizontal gas well drilling operations (ETD-10-project)
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West Virginia University
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division