Fracking traffic: increase in noise and NOx pollution

A new study published in March 2016 entitled, ‘Investigating the traffic-related environmental impacts of hydraulic-fracturing (fracking) operations’, has concluded that fracking related traffic may increase local noise and air pollution.

In particular, the study highlights that during peak hours of operation, fracking traffic can:

  • Lead to a 30% increase of NOx emmissions.
  • A single well pad can significantly increase levels of pollutants.
  • Increase noise pollution during night time hours.
  • Multiple pads operating can lead to a compounded effect in a localised area.

The paper discusses that despite the fact that fracking traffic increases may appear to be short, relative to the life time of the overall project, they can likely lead to sharp increases of pollutants and noise in the local area of operation:

“…examination of maximal results for phases with high traffic demand, even though the duration of those phases may be short, show substantial increases over the baseline, potentially leading to pollution exceedance events and breaches of local air quality standards, or increased annoyance and sleep disturbance in relation to noise.”

The above shows teh 5 phases to teh life time fo a fracking well. These phases were taken into consideration for modelling teh environmental impacts of fracking trucks. (image source: sciencedirect.com)
The above shows the 5 phases to the life time of a fracking well. These phases were taken into consideration for modelling the environmental impacts of fracking trucks. (image source: sciencedirect.com)

The paper points out that a solution that could mitigate the negative effects of fracking traffic, would be the implementation of pipelines that could transport water and chemicals instead:

“…fracking activities in the UK may be more able to follow existing onshore oil and gas exploration practice with water supply by pipeline, thus reducing reliance on road tanker transport.”

Furthermore, the paper states that by the mid 2020’s, there may be a reduction of traffic related NOx pollutants due to improvements of standards and regulations (EURO V and VI standards). The paper concedes that there is no real life data to back up the assumption and that the subject remains an area of active research as:

“It is anticipated and understood that NOx emissions rates will need to be updated as more knowledge on the real-world performance of EURO V HDVs, but especially EURO VI vehicles come to light. Performance of EURO V HDVs using de-NOxcatalysts (SCR), in conjunction with particle traps, has not lived up to initial promise.”

In conclusion, the paper states:

“Exploratory analyses using the model have revealed that the traffic impact of a single well pad can create substantial increases in local air quality pollutants during key activity periods, primarily involving the delivery of water and materials for fracking to the site. Modelling of NOx emissions showed increases reaching 30% over non-fracking periods and noise levels doubling (+ 3.4 dBA), dependent on access policy implemented to the site, potentially exacerbating existing environmental issues.”

In relation to County Fermanagh, it would be important for citizens to ask:

  • Would we prefer pipelines to trucks for transportation of fluids and would pipelines eradicated the need for fracking trucks?
  • How much of a detrimental effect would a 30% increase during peak hours affect the quality of our air, and the health of locals?
  • Will we see fracking trucks that can reduce NOx levels, despite the fact that there is no real life data to support the idea, in the face of the fact that particle traps (that capture NOx particles) have been shown not to work as effectively as promised?
  • How much of a nuisance will noise pollution actually be to our sleeping patterns?

Stay connected with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) viaFacebook, twitter. Furthermore, you can view our blogs pictorially on Pinterest.

Can fracking damage fermanagh roads?

A 2014 study published in Journal of Infrastructure Systems, Estimating the Consumptive Use Costs of Shale Natural Gas Extraction on Pennsylvania Roadways,” investigates the damage that the overall process of High Volume Hydraulic fracturing can bring to road structures.

The RAND Corporation and Carnegie Mellon University, who conducted the report, analysed the design life and reconstruction cost of roadways in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania.

They found that local municipal roads are generally designed to support passenger vehicles, not heavy trucks, and that “the useful life of a roadway is directly related to the frequency and weight of truck traffic using the roadway.”

With fracking comes and increase in heavy trucks on roads designed for smaller vehicles. Over time, teh quality of roads will increase at a faster rate. Who will pay for the upkeep of municipal roads? (image source: inthesetimes.com)
With fracking comes and increase in heavy trucks on roads designed for smaller vehicles. Over time, the quality of roads will increase at a faster rate. Who will pay for the upkeep of municipal roads? (image source: inthesetimes.com)

As a result, the study found that an increase in heavy road traffic, a characteristic feature of HVHF (due to transporting heavy materials and high volumes of fluids) will lead to an increase of road damage. And as a result, this can lead to an economic increase in the costs of road maintenance.

The study’s findings include:

  • Heavier vehicles cause exponentially greater roadway damage: A single axle with a 3,000-pounds load has a load equivalency factor (LEF) of 0.0011; for an 18,000-pound load, the LEF is 1.0; and for 30,000 pounds, it’s 8.28. “This means that 18,000-pound and 30,000-pound single-axle … do about 900 times and 7,500 times more damage than a 3,000-pound single axle pass, respectively.”
  • The estimated road-reconstruction costs associated with a single horizontal well range from $13,000 to $23,000. However, Pennsylvania often negotiates with drilling companies to rebuild smaller roads that are visibly damaged, so the researchers’ conservative estimate of uncompensated roadway damage is $5,000 and $10,000 per well.
  • While the per-well figure of $5,000-$10,000 appears small, the increasingly large number of wells being drilled means that substantial costs fall on the state: “Because there were more than 1,700 horizontal wells drilled [in Pennsylvania] in 2011, the statewide range of consumptive road costs for that year was between $8.5 and $39 million,” costs paid by state transportation authorities, and thus taxpayers.

This report should allow local residents to question the hidden, often overlooked cost of allowing the process of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing within county Fermanagh and beyond. Who will pay for the maintenance of local roads? Should the responsibility be left to local residents, or the local fracking company? If we were to leave the responsibility to the fracking company, can we ensure that they will pay for the damage of their practice? Leave your comments below.

Stay connected with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) viaFacebook, twitter. Furthermore, you can view our blogs pictorially on Pinterest.

New report officially links earthquakes and waste water disposal

The US Geological Survey have just released a report that links increased seismic activity with processes related to High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing, other wise known as fracking.

The open file 2016 report entitled, ‘One Year Seismic Hazard Forecast for the central and eastern United States from Induced and Natural Earthquakes’, states:

“Earthquake rates have recently increased markedly in multiple areas of the Central and Eastern United States (CEUS), especially since 2010, and scientific studies have linked the majority of this increased activity to wastewater injection in deep disposal wells.”

“Such changes have caused concern to many, including residents, business owners, engineers, and public officials responsible for mitigating or responding to the effects of these earthquakes on nearby populations,” it continues.

Basic schematic of injection well. (image source: indianagazette.com)
Basic schematic of injection well. (image source: indianagazette.com)

Whilst the report states that some earthquakes have occurred before practices of waste water injection, they state that this is not always the case in that: “While peak acceleration ground shaking values may not correlate as well as peak ground velocity or other measures with damage (Worden and others, 2010), these examples illustrate that high ground shaking is occurring at sites near wastewater disposal wells.”

“The evidence for the activity being induced is especially compelling when reductions in the earthquake rate correlate with reductions in wastewater injection.”

“Over the past few years, however, Oklahoma has recorded several hundred M3.0+ earthquakes per year, many of which are thought to be related to wastewater injection.”

These “induced earthquakes,” as the report calls them, “create seismic hazard to buildings, bridges, pipelines, and other important structures and are a concern for about 7.9 million people living in the vicinity of these events.”

The authors of the report include Mark Petersen, Charles Mueller, Morgan Moschetti, Susan Hoover, Andrea Llenos, William Ellsworth, Andrew Michael, Justin Rubinstein, Arthur McGarr, and Kenneth Rukstales.

Mark Peterson, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, said in a statement that the new study “shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced.”

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

Stay connected with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) via Facebook, twitter. Furthermore, you can view our blogs pictorially on Pinterest.

 

Study: increased fracking traffic, increased pollution

As reported by national newspaper, The Guardian, an academic study has revealed that increased fracking traffic could lead to an increase of air pollution. The new study, published by Newcastle University was published in the Environmental International Journal on Wednesday 24th February 2016.

A test drilling site for shale gas on the outskirts of Southport, Lancashire. (image source: Alamy)
A test drilling site for shale gas on the outskirts of Southport, Lancashire. (image source: Alamy)

The research found that the vast number of trucks required to transport water to and from unconventional shale gas extraction (USGE) sites number in the thousands. With that volume of vehicles, comes an increased volume of the toxic gas, Nitrous Oxide, otherwise known as NOX.

The study found that increases in NOX were estimated to be around 30% increase against the baseline at the busiest periods of traffic.

The study created a mathematical traffic model for a hypothetical six well site over an 85-week period. They found NOx emissions increased 6% over the course of the period, or between 18-30% for hourly NOx readings at the most intense periods of activity.

“The traffic impact of a single well pad can create substantial increases in local air quality pollutants during key activity periods,” the study said.

The study also supported long held warnings that fracking traffic will increase road damage and increase noise pollution in affected areas.

To read the article in full, click here.

Cuadrilla inquiry begins, fermanagh at risk

Today marks the first day of the long anticipated Cuadrilla inquiry, where they are set to appeal and overturn the Lancashire County Council decision to oppose two of their fracking test licences.

Whilst inspectors at the hearing are expected to make decisions at the inquiry, the final decision will fall on the lap of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, who is a signatory on the Controversial Leaked letter to George Osborne that backs industrial scale USGE in the UK.

Rt Hon Greg Clark will have teh fial decision on today's Cuadrilla inquiry. He is also a signatory on teh Leaked Letter to George Osborne that backs industrial scale fracking across teh UK. (image source: birminghammail.com)
Rt Hon Greg Clark will have the final decision on today’s Cuadrilla inquiry. He is also a signatory on the Leaked Letter to George Osborne that backs industrial scale fracking across the UK. (image source: birminghammail.com)

 

It is thought that were Cuadrilla allowed to over turn the Lancashire County Council’s decision, then this would provide a precedent for other targeted fracking areas across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, inclusive of County Fermanagh.

The inquiry is to be held at Blackpool Stadium and local community groups are expected to attend as they look for the County Council’s decision to be upheld.

 

Mark ruffalo warns cameron

In a thought provoking monologue, American actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo has  made an informed plea to UK Prime Minister that asks him to reconsider utilising Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction within the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland.

The video can be viewed by clicking the link below: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2016/feb/08/mark-ruffalo-to-david-cameron-fracking-enormous-mistake-video . (source: guardian.)
The video can be viewed by clicking the link below: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2016/feb/08/mark-ruffalo-to-david-cameron-fracking-enormous-mistake-video . (source: guardian.)

Not only does Mr Ruffalo claim that USCE is a ‘huge mistake’, and that ‘there is no fracking that can be done safely’, he draws the Prime Minister’s attention to the concept that renewable energy is ‘the future economy’, and that 200 nations recently came together to decide that it is now time to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

Mr Ruffalo also also held Mr Cameron accountable to his own words, stating that: ‘you have already told your people once before that if they didn’t want it, you wouldn’t push them to take it, and you are turning back on your word.’

The Prime Minister is yet to respond to Mr Ruffalo’s comments.

Leaked fracking letter stokes fears

A government letter suggests that UK Government Ministers have backed the controversial process of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction. The letter, leaked to Friends of the Earth also suggests removing important decisions away from local community control, and into the remit of national infrastructure bodies, thus reducing the say that local communities have over USGE in their local area.

Craig Bennett, the chief executive of Friends Of The Earth, said: “The Prime Minister has said that communities would have a fair say in whether or not fracking should happen near them, but as this letter makes clear, this isn’t being reflected or honoured in the highest levels of government.”

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, was one of the recipients of the leaked letter. (image source: telegraph.co.uk)
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, was one of the Ministers who sent the leaked letter. (image source: telegraph.co.uk)

The letter was reportedly sent from the Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, the Communities Secretary Greg Clark and the Environment Secretary Liz Truss to Chancellor George Osborne.

A Government spokeswoman stressed communities will “always be involved” in the planning application process. “We are backing shale because it’s good for our energy security and will help create jobs and growth,” she said.

Below, is the main body of the leaked letter in full:

fracking-letter1_3562967a fracking-letter2_3562970a fracking-letter3_3562972a fracking-letter4_3562973a

Belfast water supply at risk

The Belfast Telegraph have reported that there is risk that local water supplies that feed the City of Belfast run risk of contamination by Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction (USGE) practices proposed for the area.

The USGE project being carried out by company ‘Infrastrata’ will be taking place 380meters from Woodburn Reservoir, Carrickfergus.

Ms. Joyce, a local campaigner told the telegraph:

“The Woodburn reservoir outside Carrickfergus supplies Dorisland Water Works, which feeds water to over 1,900 streets, from Ballycarry right down to Belfast city centre.

“Following a freedom of information request we received a map showing exactly where the water from the reservoir goes. It supplies hospitals, health centres, schools, offices, residential areas and all the eateries in central Belfast.

“We feel that the drill potentially could contaminate the water supply and everyone supplied by it should be aware of this.

“A motion has been tabled for debate in the City Hall at 5pm on Tuesday, proposed by the Green Party and seconded by the Ulster Unionist Party.

South Woodburn Resivoir. According to population review, the greater belfast area has a population of approx. 585,000 inhabitants, making it the 11th largest conurbation in the UK. (image source: doeni.co.uk)
South Woodburn Reservoir. According to population review, the greater Belfast area has a population of approx. 585,000 inhabitants, making it the 11th largest conurbation in the UK. (image source: doeni.co.uk)

“We lobbied hard for this debate to go ahead and are hopeful that it will raise even more awareness of the potential hazard the drill could pose.”

Woodburn Reservoir supplied 705 streets across Belfast, 532 streets in Carrickfergus, 576 in Newtownabbey, 59 in Larne, 80 in Whitehead, four in Ballycarry and one street in Antrim.

Ms Joyce added: “The decision to grant InfraStrata rights to drill 380 metres from our water was made without consultation.

“The right to participate and be informed is being violated. The risks of exploratory drilling are detailed and well documented and it appears that the need for intense scrutiny in relation to this sensitive site has been avoided.”

The debate is to take place in Belfast City Hall tomorrow, 1st September 2015.

The Telegrapgh further reported: “However, Infrastrata says it is committed to the project and is in discussions with a number of other parties to secure the £2.8m lost by Larne Oil and Gas pulling out. Infrastrata also said that all the “regulatory approvals and other permits” were in place for work to begin this winter, but the company added that the timing depended on getting a drilling slot for the rig and completing the funding.”

To read the article in full, click here.

Fracking crops to be labelled?

An L.A. lawmaker believes that food processed with fracking waste water should be labelled as such for the benefit of consumers. Assemblyman Mike Gatto has introduced a bill that will be considered as part of the Legislature’s Special Session on health.

His office says some farms are using recycled hydraulic fracturing water in the name of water conservation: “Few consumers are aware of the potential health issues from consuming produce irrigated by contaminated water.” Food that uses recycled fracking water would have to contain the label, “Produced using recycled or treated oil-field waste-water.”

“Consumers have a basic right to make informed decisions when it comes to the type of food that ends up on the family dinner table,” Gatto said. “Labelling food that has been irrigated with potentially harmful or carcinogenic chemicals, such as those in recycled fracking water, is the right thing to do.”

Recently, farmers in the state of California have been using recycled fracking waste water for crop irrigation. The recycling method has been used in farming instead of fresh water, as a result of the high demand for water in the state of California that has seen heavy drought over the past few years.

Given teh relatively small space of teh Island of Ireland, there are concerns both north and south of the border that the island could lose out agriculturally and economically were consumers to choose foods produced by other nations that didn't undergo fracking due to concerns on health and contaminated produce. (image source: wired.co.uk)
Given the relatively small space of the Island of Ireland, there are concerns both north and south of the border that the island could lose out agriculturally and economically were consumers to choose foods produced by other nations that didn’t undergo fracking due to concerns on health and contaminated produce. (image source: wired.co.uk)

So far, this isn’t to say that the food produce will carry health warnings, rather it is a matter of informing consumers that the food has been processed using fracking waste products.

The concept of notifying consumers as to whether or not their food has been in contact with fracking materials is a moral one. As was found recently with the Tesco horse meat scandal, consumers want to know what they are eating and want to know that it has been prepared safely.

However, the move will raise concerns for farmers globally, and in the Island of Ireland particularly.

It is believed locally that due to the health risks of fracking, both perceived and real, that consumers would rather shy away from food produce that has been exposed to fracking chemicals, and instead would rather purchase food stuffs that had not come into contact with said materials.

If the initiative were to go ahead, what would result would be a decline in profits for farmers who produce food in areas that have gone, and are undergoing the process of unconventional shale gas extraction.

Would you consume food that was produced with fracking waste water or not? Leave your comments below.

Isle of wight faces fracking

Following news that new fracking licences are being offered to oil and gas companies for purposes of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction (USGE), mainly across the midlands and North of England, it also appears that the majority of the Isle of Wight will be fracked also.

isle

The Isle of Wight, a well known tourist destination for many, as well as home to134,000 local residents, measures around 148 square miles in total. Below are the proposed licence areas that, when you compare to the image above, cover almost the whole of the island.

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