Investigating the Traffic-related Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic-fracturing (Fracking) Operations

Environment International (Published online Feb. 24, 2016; doi:10.1016/j.envint.2016.02.002) / by Paul S. Goodman, et al.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412016300277

Highlights

• Traffic-related environmental impacts of fracking studied using a novel Traffic Impact Model.
• Model estimates greenhouse gas, local air quality, noise and axle loading impacts on roads.
• Single well pad creates substantial increases in local air quality pollutants during peak activity.
• Short-duration/large-magnitude events may adversely affect local ambient air quality and noise.
• Daily NOx emissions may increase by over 30% and hourly noise levels can double (+ 3.4 dBA)

[Abstract] Results suggest that the local impacts of a single well pad may be short duration but large magnitude. That is, whilst single digit percentile increases in emissions of CO2, NOx and PM are estimated for the period from start of construction to pad completion (potentially several months or years), excess emissions of NOx on individual days of peak activity can reach 30% over baseline. Likewise, excess noise emissions appear negligible (< 1 dBA) when normalised over the completion period, but may be considerable (+ 3.4 dBA) in particular hours, especially in night-time periods. Larger, regional scale modelling of pad development scenarios over a multi-decade time horizon give modest CO2 emissions that vary between 2.5 and 160.4 kT, dependent on the number of wells, and individual well fracking water and flowback waste requirements. The TIM model is designed to be adaptable to any geographic area where the required input data are available (such as fleet characteristics, road type and quality), and we suggest could be deployed as a tool to help reach more informed decisions regarding where and how fracking might take place taking into account the likely scale of traffic-related environmental impacts.

 

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