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Environmental Health and Safety Dynamics of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania

Glosser, Deborah (2014) Environmental Health and Safety Dynamics of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Quantifying the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania is critical for identifying high risk activities, and informing the development of engineering and policy practices aimed at risk mitigation. Environmental inspection and incident reports issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) are the most complete and consistent dataset available for analyzing trends in environmental incident rates in the Commonwealth. Overall violation and penalty rates decreased statewide between 2008 and 2011 when scaled to the number of Marcellus completions (1.08 to 14; and .43 to .03, respectively). There are regional differences in inspection practices and violation and penalty issuance between PADEP districts: Based on the assumption that intra-company environmental practices are consistent across drill sites, violation and penalty rates should generally be equivalent between PADEP districts for each driller. However, for 4 major gas companies operating in all 4 PADEP districts, the Northwest District Office issued overwhelmingly more violations and penalties than the other district offices in almost every case. Several important regulatory changes impacting Marcellus exploration activities occurred during the study period. Since many of these changes are activity specific, the overall incident rates were not affected. However, penalties for accidental discharges to stream waters declined from .04 per new completion to .01, following a regulatory change requiring a 150 foot buffer between drill sites and streams. There is generally an inverse relationship between the number of Marcellus drill site inspections, and the number of violations and fine carrying penalties issued. The number inspections increased statewide from 1195 in 2008 to 10,192 in 2011, and the rate of violations and penalties per inspection decreased from .09 to .02; and .03 to .004, respectively. This thesis shows that the relationship between incident reporting, drilling activity, inspection activity, and regulatory changes interact in a dynamic manner. It is recommended that inspection and reporting practices be centralized between PADEP districts, and that incident rates and types continue to be monitored so that regulatory and engineering practices can continue to be targeted to risk bearing activities.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Glosser, Deborahdeg50@pitt.eduDEG50
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAbbott, MarkMAbbott1@pitt.eduMABBOTT1
Committee MemberHarbert, Williamharbert@pitt.eduHARBERT
Committee MemberWerne, Josefjwerne@pitt.eduJWERNE
Date: 27 January 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 November 2013
Approval Date: 27 January 2014
Submission Date: 24 October 2013
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 89
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Geology and Planetary Science
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Marcellus Shale, Geology, Environmental Risk, Oil, Gas, Regulation, Shale Gas
Additional Information: Final copy
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2014 17:06
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2019 06:15


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