Various environmental impacts can result from Marcellus shale gas well drilling.
Historically, gas wells in WV used under 100,000 gallons of water. The amount of water a Marcellus well will use depends on whether it is a vertical well (600,000 to 2,000,000 million gallons) or a horizontal well (2,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallons) and how many times it is fracked (multiply 2,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallons times the number of fracs).
A Marcellus well pad will be 3 to 6 acres, with the possibility of additional water storage pits or parking lots for tanker trucks.
But that’s just for one well pad. If the well is productive, there will be a gas field developed. How many wells can be drilled in a given area or how close they can be to each other depends on whether they are classified as deep or shallow wells. The actual depth in feet is not what classifies a well as deep or shallow in WV; it is the formation that the well penetrates. If it goes into the Onondaga formation, which lies just below the Marcellus, it is a deep well; if not, it is a shallow well, and well placement can be every 40 acres.
Trucks and Traffic
All drilling equipment – machines, tanks, drilling rig, supplies of diesel fuel, etc. – is brought in on tractor trailers. Each fracking requires 550 to 2,500 tanker truckloads of water. Plus there are tanker trucks for the sand and chemicals to do the fracing. Many of these trucks are “oversized loads” and get stuck on the winding back roads in WV. Traffic jams and mishaps have blocked roads from a few hours to days. Road damage is unavoidable. Finally there is the continual coming and going of the pickups for industry workers and managers.
Noise, Lights and Fumes
Wells of earlier times were drilled in a few days. Marcellus wells will take weeks or months with generators, drilling machine and pumps going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The state DEP has been investigating a suspected link between gas industry drilling and earthquakes in Braxton County.