MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Michael McCawley, Ph.D., interim chair of the West Virginia University School of Public Health Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, plans to provide research data in real time from a dedicated scientific observation well being drilled in Morgantown.
The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL) project will provide a long-term field site to develop and validate new knowledge and technology to improve recovery efficiency and minimize environmental implications of unconventional resource development. The site will primarily be used to collect detailed subsurface data and to monitor and test technologies in additional production wells that will be drilled periodically over the lifetime of the project.
Dr. McCawley is a researcher on the MSEEL project and will be performing air, noise, occupational safety and health monitoring on the site over the next five years. According to McCawley, the WVU School of Public Health has begun forming a consortium for these tasks alone. In addition to researchers from WVU, the Consortium for Health and Energy Research (CHER) currently includes scientists from New York University, Rutgers University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
CHER will provide a collaborative opportunity to assess sampling methodology for instrument and reading comparisons and to review the applicability of new control technologies. Sampling will be taken in multiple locations around the area using multiple types of air and noise monitors.
“I maintained in the report to the Department of Environmental Protection and the West Virginia Legislature that real-time monitoring should be preferable to set backs in terms of controlling exposure to the population around a site. This project will allow this idea to be tested,” McCawley said. “We will be monitoring air and noise emissions in real time with the data to be provided to the well operator and the community as it becomes available. This enables real-time control of operations.”
The scientific observation well is one of only three field sites in the U.S. dedicated as an on-the-job laboratory. According to the project summary, “the overall site will provide a well-documented baseline of production and environmental characterization from two previous wells. MSEEL will use the latest information technology to enable a broad integrated program of open, collaborative science and technology development and testing. The initial project plan provides for the collection of samples and data and/or the testing and demonstration of advanced technologies, but the phased approach is flexible enough to incorporate new technology and science.”