Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Does PA have air quality issues caused by gas drilling?

Back in February the mayor from tiny Dish, Texas visited a number of Upstate NY venues to talk about air quality problems associated with gas drilling.  Emissions from the high number of compressors in town have made some people sick.

Now it looks like PA may have a similar problem. This afternoon the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent out a notice to the press that the agency is responding to odor complaints in two counties and will be analyzing air quality.

The DEP is gathering samples this week from areas near natural gas operations in Washington and Greene counties. The agency will conduct their study in four phases with each phase lasting one week. They hope to isolate the source of odors that have prompted complaints from residents.

"DEP has received complaints about odors that residents believe are emanating from gas well drilling facilities,” said DEP Southwest Regional Director George Jugovic Jr. Under the Air Pollution Control Act, any entity operating a source of odors may be fined up to $25,000. In the natural gas industry, compressor stations, which are located along natural gas transmission lines and pressurize gas so that it can be piped across great distances, operate under a general permit that limits pollutants by incorporating best available technologies.

During the first phase of the DEP study, their Mobile Analytic Unit will collect and compare air samples from a site in Washington County removed from active drilling as well as active drilling sites in Greene and Washington counties. DEP will also analyze air samples collected over a 24-hour period using 12 canisters, some of which will be placed on the properties of residents who have complained of odors.

Then they will take samples within 3-miles downwind of sites related to gas well drilling in the Marcellus Shale: active drill sites, compressor stations, drip tanks, well heads, gas well flares and wastewater impoundments. They plan to complete sampling by June. 

Samples will be analyzed for volatile organic compounds, ozone, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide. Read more here.


  1. Oh, boy! This whole gas drilling operation is just getting started. We ain't seen nothing yet! Soon we will begin to see how it is impacting social relationships-families and communities, too. Friends and neighbors are turning against one another.
    This is an excellent blog. Keep up the good work!

  2. It's sad and scary that man has lost his ability to forsee what he is doing to the environment.