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West Virginia
 
   

 
1500 Dixie Street, Charleston, West Virginia 25311
Voice/Voice Mail 304-346-5891 - Fax 304-346-8981
www.wvsoro.org
Copyright December 2010
'ntroduction
We are facing the industrialization of rural West Virginia.

A few years ago, Marcellus Shale gas was unrecoverable and West Virginia
was a relative backwater in the oil and gas industry. And West Virginia was a relative
backwater in the oil and gas industry.

The new techniques of high volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling
have made a sea change in all of that. The Marcellus Shale is now the second
largest field of gas -- in the WORLD. 't is twice the size of the gas fields in Saudi
Arabia. Major oil companies like Exxon are buying up gas resources here.
Conventional shallow wells that cost $300,000.00 to drill have given way to 6 to 8
horizontal wells drilled from one well site. And each horizontal well costs $3 Million or
more to drill. This drilling causes an exponential increase in surface disturbance,
waste use and waste disposal. 't also requires compressor stations and staging areas
and greatly increases demands on roads and other infrastructure.

The following images show the industrialization of rural West Virginia that is
occurring because of Marcellus Shale development and the associated problems that
require a response from state government.
ð  




This is an aerial photograph of a typical   




 . These sites occupy 1 to 3 acres. They can
be drilled in 30 to 45 days. Note the small drilling pit used to collect cuttings and other waste. Also, note the two
blue, upright tanks used to hold the water that is pumped down the well to fracture the gas formation.
(WV-SORO photograph)
 

   
 


This is an aerial photograph of a typical  



   
 
. These sites range from 3 to 5
acres. Note the larger drilling pit. And instead of two tractor-trailer size tanks to hold the frac water, note the
Olympic swimming pool-sized water impoundment behind the drill pad. (An additional water storage impoundment
is not in the photo.) (WV-SORO photograph)
m  

  !  
  
 


This is a centralized well pad on where " #  



 
    
 
. These
sites are even larger than a vertical well site ² 5 to 8 acres. 't takes nearly 6 months to complete each horizontal
well, and the driller may need to come back later to frac the wells again. (Courtesy of a surface owner)
Centralized Water 'mpoundment

Some drillers use one large, centralized water impoundment for several wells being drilled in the same area. (Note the
people in this picture also appear in the next picture.) (WV-SORO photograph)
Centralized Water 'mpoundment

This is a wider view of the same centralized impoundment. (Note the same people in the back right of this picture were
in the previous picture.) The water has to come from somewhere. After fracing, much of it flows back out of the
well. 't is filled with hundreds of chemicals that were either put in the water during the injection or that were picked
up in the target formation while underground. This wastewater must be transported off-site, treated and disposed
of safely. (WV-SORO photograph)
Water 'mpoundment Failure

'n the Spring of 2010, poor construction/inadequate oversight resulted in the failure of most impoundments built on top
of hills in Wetzel County due to landslips and/or actual overflows.
(Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Water 'mpoundment Failure

On December 12, 2009, this Chesapeake impoundment in Wetzel County was overflowing. On December 14, a slip
blocked the road as a result of the overflow on the 12th. A four-wheel drive mule was needed to get a patient to
the ambulance. (Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Laying of a ³Gathering Line´

Once the well goes into production, ³gathering´ pipelines are needed to take the gas from the well to compressor
stations. This photo shows the laying of a gathering line. 'n addition much larger transmission lines (not pictured)
are needed take the gas to market. (Courtesy of a surface owner)
Air Pollution

'n addition to increases in surface disturbance, water use and waste disposal, the Marcellus Shale development
degrades air quality. Many of the processes involved with this development release nitrogen oxide (NOx), volatile
organic compounds (VOCs) and other potentially harmful substances into the air.
(Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Compressor Station

Although the gas comes out of the ground all by itself, compressor stations have to be built to move the gas further
through pipelines. 'n addition to surface disturbance, these compressor stations are also a source of air pollution
and noise. (Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
'ndustrialization: Satellite View

't is not just the size of these well pads and other disturbances and facilities that are causing the industrialization of rural
West Virginia. 't is the sheer numbers and density of them. This image shows a rural area of West Virginia in
southern Marshall County and northern Wetzel County in 2004, before the recent drilling boom/Marcellus Shale
play began. (Courtesy SkyTruth, www.skytruth.org and Google Earth)
'ndustrialization: Satellite View

This is the same area in 2007. Note a few new well sites. (Courtesy SkyTruth, www.skytruth.org and Google Earth)
'ndustrialization: Satellite View

This is the same area in 2009. The black/yellow dots are all permitted Marcellus Shale wells. Most of them have been
drilled and you can see the disturbance of the surface. (Not all of them have been drilled or necessarily will be
drilled, but others, particularly additional horizontal wells, are likely to be permitted.)
(Courtesy SkyTruth, www.skytruth.org and Google Earth)
'ndustrialization: ³Victory Field´

This is the same area of Marshall and Wetzel counties with indicators for the location of well sites, compressor stations
and storage tanks. (Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org and Google Earth)
'ndustrialization: ³Victory Field´

State road map of the same ³Victory Field´ area of Marshall and Wetzel counties.
(Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Road Damage

West Virginia¶s rural roads cannot handle the industrialization that is occurring due to Marcellus Shale development.
This is a local road that was suitable for access to a few farms. 't takes hundreds and hundreds of tractor-trailers
to transport water for the frac jobs to and from the well sites, in addition to all of the heavy equipment used and
other supplies needed to drill these huge wells, not to mention the daily traffic of the workers traveling back and
forth. (Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Damaged Bridge

This bridge had its railing knocked off by well drilling activity and continues to be overloaded by the heavy truck traffic.
(Courtesy Upshur County member of WV-SORO)
Local Access Route

This is major traffic artery through Wetzel County. The road must accommodate local traffic, in addition to heavy trucks
transporting water, equipment and other supplies to Marcellus Shale drilling sites.
(Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Road Damage

This is a state road damaged by many heavy trucks traveling to Marcellus Shale drilling sites. You can tell which side
of the road the trucks use when going to the well with heavy loads. The other side, where they come back empty,
is undamaged. (Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Road Damage

The trucks are so heavy and frequent that they press down and push the center of the driving lanes up so they almost
catch the bottoms of passenger cars. (Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Truck Accident

The roads are not designed to handle the heavy traffic they are getting. This fully loaded Diesel fuel truck that ran off
the road when it met a convoy coming down the hill in the opposite direction.
(Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Truck Accident

'nadequate roads can cause serious road accidents. (Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Marshall County Well Fire

The damage the land and roads is bad enough. Without proper oversight, other more dangerous accidents are more
likely to happen. A fire burns at Chesapeake Energy¶s McDowell B well near Cameron in Marshall County. The
fire and explosion at the site on Sept. 20, 2010, was the third situation at a gas drilling site in the county since
June. The fire burned for more then a week. (Courtesy Wetzel County Action Group, www.wcag-wv.org)
Conclusion

Our state is facing this new industrialization of rural West Virginia with regulatory statutes
have not been modified in decades, and a staff that is already 6,000 wells behind in forcing drillers
to plug played out wells (not counting 13,000 wells that have become orphaned with no one to
plug them because we did not require them to be plugged before the operator went out of
business). There are only 17 inspectors for 55,000 active wells, the played out/orphaned wells
mentioned above and 900 to 3,000 new permit applications a year. Not all of these will be drilled,
but those that are should have multiple visits by inspectors to prevent erosion and stream
sedimentation, damage to groundwater and other pollution. West Virginia needs to overhaul and
modernize of its oversight of gas well drilling, and commit significantly more resources to address
the impacts of this industrialization.