Potential Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction on the State of New Jersey
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This research quantifies the potential environmental impacts that shale gas extraction in New York and Pennsylvania will have on New Jersey. Here we focus on three potential impacts: Delaware River water drawdown, Delaware River water contamination and New Jersey air quality deterioration. The three focus areas were chosen because a total of 15 million people depend on the Delaware River for drinking water (approximately 3 million of whom reside in New Jersey) and air quality standards in New Jersey are already being exceeded. In the analysis, GIS, water resource and water quality models are used to forecast Delaware River water drawdown and future contamination. Air quality impacts are estimated by extrapolation of existing air quality impact assessments from other shale deposits, and by using current shale gas extraction activity in northeastern Pennsylvania, current air quality data from New Jersey, and seasonal wind patterns around the study area. To evaluate the range of possible outcomes, we developed three scenarios representing the best-case, middle and worst-case scenarios. This study assumes all water from the Delaware River and its tributaries is retrieved, that waste water recycling is not practiced and that spills from the containment ponds occurs. The results of this study found that even in the ‘worst case scenario,’ the Delaware River will not experience a change in flow rate, although some draw down would be detected in certain tributaries. The real world validity of this finding may depend on the management of drawdown timing and quantities. Potential contamination will also be within EPA limits, assuming the River is not already highly contaminated, although contamination in upstream tributaries will be more significant. Moreover, some of the contaminants that we modeled do not have EPA standards at this time and could be of potential risk. Finally, we found that New Jersey air quality degradation due to ozone produced during the shale gas drilling process is non-existent at this time, but could pose a problem in the future if all active wells in Northeastern Pennsylvania become producing wells, if more wells are drilled closer to New Jersey and if production per well rises.
CitationSahasrabudhe, Samir; Melillo, Jacqueline; & Dertzbaugh, Timothy (2011). Potential Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction on the State of New Jersey. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/3695.
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Rights for Collection: Nicholas School of the Environment