PA DEP Conducts Air Quality Survey Near Marcellus Shale Sites

The DEP conducted a four week assessment near Marcellus Shale sites in Northeastern PA. Their findings indicate no health risk to people living near gas drilling sites.

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OPEN: The Department of Environmental Protection has released a report on a short-term air quality study conducted near Marcellus Shale sites in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Allegheny Front's Nichole Faina has more.

FAINA: The DEP says the study doesn't show emission levels that would threaten the health of people who live near these natural gas sites. Joyce Epps, Director of DEP's Bureau of Air Quality, believes the study provides the agency with a useful snapshot of air quality near Marcellus facilities in Sullivan and Susquehanna counties. Epps says the air sampling wasn't done to examine potential cumulative impacts. The study focused on concentrations of volatile organic compounds like benzene and xylene which are typically found in petroleum products. The department also sampled for other pollutants such as carbon monoxide near drilling, fracking and processing sites. Joe Osbourne with GASP, Group Against Smog and Pollution, says the DEP's design study needs to be improved before conclusions can be drawn about health risks.

OSBORNE: It seems that what I hear in the media is that there are no air emissions from natural gas drilling, there's no danger to the air from natural gas drilling-- headlines like that. I don't think you can safely conclude such short term studies at selected sites.

FAINA: DEP had done similar air-monitoring studies near Marcellus gas facilities in north-central Pennsylvania. Those results are being evaluated. Findings from a study in southwestern Pennsylvania were announced this past November. For the Allegheny Front, I'm Nichole Faina.