Responding to concerns from residents living near a gas well site in Cecil Township, Range Resources installed an ambient air monitoring system around the property before it began drilling there in May.
The monitoring system will measure particulates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at the Augustine well site. It has already been set up around the perimeter of the site. “All measurements are being collected using equipment and procedures in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency methods. Third-party consultants have placed six monitors around the well site, and they are collecting the data which is being sent to their certified lab for analysis. The data then undergoes a quality check process,” Range’s website states.
Cecil Township supervisors gave Range approval for the drilling in 2017, but a group of property owners living nearby appealed the decision to Washington County Court. The appeal was denied, allowing drilling to begin. The site is near Bednar’s Farm and Greenhouse and close to a large housing development.
The site is permitted for 11 wells, four of which were “spudded” on May 4, the DEP website indicates. The spud date is when drilling begins and is used for purposes of factoring Act 13 impact fees.
Range said the testing is part of its public health transparency efforts and focus on sustainability. The company last year released an air-monitoring study of data from a well site near the Fort Cherry School District campus that found no health risks from natural gas development. That study was done in response to concerns raised by parents and residents during the approval of the Yonker well site.
The results of that study were questioned by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, which contends that there is a link between shale gas development and health issues.
Michelle Stonemark, one of the Cecil residents who lives near the Augustine well pad and filed the unsuccessful appeal, told the Pittsburgh Business Times that she and neighbors have put up their own air and water monitoring systems that will provide daily data, and intend to compare it to the Range data.