Evaluation of gas well setback policy in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania in relation to emissions of fine particulate matter

Zoya Banan, Jeremy M. Gernand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Shale gas has become an important strategic energy source with considerable potential economic benefits and the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in so far as it displaces coal use. However, there still exist environmental health risks caused by emissions from exploration and production activities. In the US, states and localities have set different minimum setback policies to reduce the health risks corresponding to the emissions from these locations, but it is unclear whether these policies are sufficient. A Gaussian plume model was employed to evaluate the probability of exposure exceedance from EPA concentration limits for PM2.5 at various locations around a generic wellsite in the Marcellus shale region. A set of meteorological data monitored at 10 different stations across Marcellus shale gas region in Pennsylvania during 2015 serves as an input to this model. Results indicated that even though the current setback distance policy in Pennsylvania (500 ft. or 152.4 m) might be effective in some cases, exposure limit exceedance occurred frequently at this distance with higher than average emission rates and/or greater number of wells per wellpad. Setback distances should be 736 m to ensure compliance with the daily average concentration of PM2.5, and a function of the number of wells to comply with the annual average PM2.5 exposure standard.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-1000
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Volume68
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2018

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gas well
particulate matter
shale
health risk
well
environmental risk
compliance
greenhouse gas
plume
coal
policy
evaluation
economics
exposure
shale gas

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Cite this

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abstract = "Shale gas has become an important strategic energy source with considerable potential economic benefits and the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in so far as it displaces coal use. However, there still exist environmental health risks caused by emissions from exploration and production activities. In the US, states and localities have set different minimum setback policies to reduce the health risks corresponding to the emissions from these locations, but it is unclear whether these policies are sufficient. A Gaussian plume model was employed to evaluate the probability of exposure exceedance from EPA concentration limits for PM2.5 at various locations around a generic wellsite in the Marcellus shale region. A set of meteorological data monitored at 10 different stations across Marcellus shale gas region in Pennsylvania during 2015 serves as an input to this model. Results indicated that even though the current setback distance policy in Pennsylvania (500 ft. or 152.4 m) might be effective in some cases, exposure limit exceedance occurred frequently at this distance with higher than average emission rates and/or greater number of wells per wellpad. Setback distances should be 736 m to ensure compliance with the daily average concentration of PM2.5, and a function of the number of wells to comply with the annual average PM2.5 exposure standard.",
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