Data Transparency Bill Will Aid Emergency Response

Fire in Hopewell Township PA,
Southwestern PA on 3-31-10

Earlier this week, a Pennsylvania Senate committee approved a bill that would require natural gas drilling companies to provide emergency response information to local authorities. Here are the key requirements of drilling companies that are being proposed:

  • Post emergency response information at each well site
  • Register distinct geographic coordinates for each drilling site with the PA Department of Environmental Protection and local authorities
  • File response plans with the local authorities, local 911 center, PA DEP, and PA Emergency Management Agency

Inadequate data transparency of this type has been a significant public health concern ever since natural gas drilling first began in the Marcellus Shale region in PA.Marcellus Shale sites are often drilled in rural, remote areas without exact location information or clear emergency plans. If passed into law, this legislation stands to decrease the response time in the event of an emergency at a well site, reducing the impact that drilling incidents may have on public health and the environment.

To demonstrate why improving the quality and expediency of emergency response to shale gas drilling incidents is an important endeavor, below is a map created on FracTracker’s DataTool showing only the location of violations issued by the PA DEP in 2010 to companies that were drilling into the Marcellus Shale layer. If you press “Click to see more details on this map,” you can use the DataTool to filter the dataset even further in order to see which of these violations was an environmental health and safety violation, not just administrative in nature:

(Darker diamonds indicate there was more than one violation issued in that area. Zoom in to learn more.)