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Allegheny County to Better Monitor Marcellus Activity; Comments Taken Until December 3

The Marcellus Shale industry boomed in the last few years, and Southwestern Pennsylvania has been a center of that activity. For some people here, the boom was literal: the first warning many residents and even emergency personnel had that a well had been drilled near the popular Pittsburgh Mills shopping area was a giant fireball blazing on a plateau overlooking the stores, flaring off emissions from the well.

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is proposing a new notification regulation to make certain that never happens again.

The proposal requires industry to inform ACHD when ‘milestones’ occur at a well site, which are activities in the drilling and extraction process that could produce high emissions.  Inspectors can go to the right place, at the right time.  They can sample the air while a well is being fracked, or monitor a flare’s opacity to ensure that pollutants are properly controlled.

We’ve worked with ACHD on getting some protections in place that go beyond the state minimums.  It’s good to see ACHD being proactive.  Some of our political leaders are pushing for more drilling in Allegheny County.  Having these rules in place before that happens will be extremely helpful.

Comments on the notification system will be taken until Dec. 3.  GASP recently published a Handbook that explains air pollution laws, common Marcellus pollutants, and the commenting process. Access the Handbook here:

More information from ACHD on how to comment on this proposal can be found at

The notification rules themselves are available at

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