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Abstract - Hydraulic fracturing, combined with horizontal well development, has resulted in rapid expansion of gas production in the Appalachian Marcellus shale formation. In the past three years, over 2000 horizontal/hydraulic fracture (HHF) wells have been developed in Pennsylvania, presenting significant potential for environmental degradation and human health risk if wastes are not isolated and handled properly. This study examined the waste streams from HHF development in the Marcellus formation and proposes protective measures that would minimize exposure. The results showed that flowback, drilling muds, and HHF fluids all exceeded SDWA limits to varying degrees. Due to the contaminants found in these substances, proper handling and containment is essential to prevent harm to the environment. Field evaluations on a subset of pits and impoundments indicated several construction and maintenance deficiencies related to the containment systems and transport pipelines. The geomembrane liners were evaluated for tears and anchoring deficiencies, while liquid transfer pipes were assessed for bracing support against rupture. An out-of-sample probability analysis using the binomial distribution identifies trends to focus field construction and maintenance efforts in order to minimize exposure pathways of frac fluids to the environment.
Ziemkiewicz, P.F., J.D. Quaranta, A. Darnell, & R. Wise (2014) Exposure pathways related to shale gas development and procedures for reducing environmental and public risk, Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering 16:77-84.