Pennsylvania Department of Environmental ProtectionNorthcentral PA Marcellus Shale Short-Term Ambient Air Sampling ReportMay 6, 2011
Since the beginning of 2008, natural gas exploration activities in the Marcellus ShaleFormation have increased significantly in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—morethan 2,349 wells have been drilled, primarily in the southwest, northeast and northcentralregions. In response to the increased number of well sites and concerns about the impactof the Marcellus Shale natural gas development activities on air quality, the PennsylvaniaDepartment of Environmental Protection (PA DEP or Department) launched a short-term,screening-level air quality sampling initiative in the northcentral region in August 2010,culminating in December 2010. This report includes the findings of the screening airsampling surveys conducted by PA DEP in Bradford, Lycoming and Tioga counties andbackground sampling conducted in Sullivan County.The scope of this short-term sampling effort was limited to several natural gas facilities innorthcentral Pennsylvania. Due to the limited scope and duration of the sampling and thelimited number of sources and facilities sampled, the findings only represent conditionsat the time of the sampling and do not represent a comprehensive study of emissions.While this short-term sampling effort does not address the cumulative impact of airemissions from natural gas operations in northcentral Pennsylvania, the sampling resultsdo provide basic information on the type of pollutants emitted to the atmosphere duringselected phases of gas extraction operations in the Marcellus Shale formation. Thisinformation will also be utilized to determine if the scope of the study should beexpanded and will identify areas where additional sampling may be warranted.Samples were collected during four “sampling weeks” using the Department’s Bureau of Laboratories Mobile Analytical Unit (MAU) to measure the concentrations of a target listof pollutants associated with gas development operations. The Mobile Analytical Unitused Gas Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) and Open Path FourierTransform Infrared (OP-FTIR or Open Path) samplers to screen for approximately 48volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including methane and benzene. Additional airsamples were collected in canisters over a 24-hour period and analyzed by the PA DEPLaboratory. The four sampling weeks focused on ambient air pollution levels near twodifferent compressor stations, a well site during flaring operations, an active well-drillingsite, and a background site.The project goals include the short-term screening of ambient air concentrations of targetpollutants near certain of Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations, assessing preliminaryair quality impacts and determining if there were any immediate health risks fromambient pollutant concentrations to nearby residents or communities.The key findings of short-term air sampling in northcentral Pennsylvania are:
Concentrations of certain natural gas constituents including methane, ethane,propane and butane, and associated compounds in the air near MarcellusShale drilling operations were detected during sampling.