Dynamics of Marcellus Shale Environmental Health and Safety Incident Reporting in Pennsylvania
Glosser, Deborah; Bain, Daniel
Recent studies of unconventional gas extraction "incident" rates have concluded that Environmental Health and Safety (ES&H) incidents decrease over time. We have analyzed Marcellus ES&H incidents reported by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection between 2008 and 2011. PA DEP incident reports were categorized from administrative to severe along a five point scale. Administrative incidents, classified as incorrect permits, improper signage, etc., were excluded from analysis. Of the 35 counties with active drilling during the study period, eight had no incidents reported, and the overall number of reported incidents decreased between 2008 and 2011. Although the overall reporting rate declined over the study period, reports of significant and serious incidents increased in 74% of counties. This increase may not necessarily reflect a growth in serious ES&H violations, because simultaneous changes in inspection and reporting practices in Pennsylvania may have changed detection efficiency. Reporting rates were examined in the context of the regulatory environment, including changes in inspection effort, inspection practices, and public awareness of Marcellus drilling activities, to assess whether the observed trends may be confounded by these processes. Benefits of understanding Marcellus ES&H incident reporting in Pennsylvania include identification of engineering and operational risks, and the promotion of public confidence in shale gas development practices.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90163©2013AAPG 2013 Annual Convention and Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-22, 2013