Wednesday, April 28, 2010

DEP Responding to Odor Complaints, Analyzing Air Quality in Washington, Greene Counties

Inspectors Sampling to Gauge Possible Impact of Natural Gas Well Operations

Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120


Helen Humphreys, Department of Environmental Protection Southwest Regional Office

PITTSBURGH -- The Department of Environmental Protection is gathering samples this week to analyze air quality in areas near natural gas operations in Washington and Greene counties.

The department’s efforts, which will be conducted in four phases with each phase lasting one week, are intended to isolate the source of odors that have prompted complaints from residents.

“DEP has received complaints about odors that residents believe are emanating from gas well drilling facilities,” said DEP Southwest Regional Director George Jugovic Jr. “We take these concerns very seriously and are working to identify the specific source of these odors. If there is a violation of the commonwealth’s air quality laws, the department will take the appropriate enforcement action.

“The bottom line is that any operation subject to our permitting requirements faces real and enforceable emissions limits that are designed to protect the public’s health,” he added.

Under the Air Pollution Control Act, any entity operating a source of odors may be fined up to $25,000. In the natural gas industry, compressor stations, which are located along natural gas transmission lines and pressurize gas so that it can be piped across great distances, operate under a general permit that limits pollutants by incorporating best available technologies.

During the first phase of a multi-phase effort, DEP’s Mobile Analytic Unit will collect air samples at a site in Washington County removed from active drilling and compare the results with samples taken near active drilling sites in Greene and Washington counties. DEP will also analyze air samples collected over a 24-hour period using 12 canisters, some of which will be placed on the properties of residents who have complained of odors.

Phases two through four will be conducted within three miles downwind of sites related to gas well drilling in the Marcellus Shale, including active drill sites, compressor stations, drip tanks, well heads, gas well flares and wastewater impoundments.

All sampling will be completed by June.

Samples will be analyzed for volatile organic compounds, ozone, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide.

Canister samples will be analyzed at the DEP laboratory in Harrisburg.

For more information, visit or call 412-442-4000.



  1. We called the DEP this morning to tell them of multiple calls we get concerning the bad odor all around the area of Washington County, South Strabane, and were told, and I quote "what do you want me to do about it? It could be anything!". Sorry, I assumed that it was the job of the DEP to look into such matters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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