Health department to begin air monitoring near airport project

PITTSBURGH — The Allegheny County Health Department announced recently that it will begin an air monitoring study in a community near to the Marcellus Shale natural gas production project at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Request

The monitoring is being done following a request from county executive Rich Fitzgerald, after discussions about homeowners’ concerns with state Sen. Matt Smith and state Rep. Mark Mustio.

“This project represents the first large-scale development of a wet gas field in Allegheny County. At the request of County Executive Fitzgerald, we will conduct an air monitoring study in a community near to the project to make certain there are no unforeseen problems,” said Jim Thompson, deputy director of environmental health.

The monitoring will also verify that public health is not adversely affected. The Health Department will begin monitoring before operations commence to establish baseline concentrations, and will then continue for at least a year after production begins.

Mineral leasing

In February of 2013, County Council approved an ordinance authorizing the lease of minerals at the Pittsburgh International Airport and permitted drilling and other necessary operations to extract oil, gas, natural gas liquids and other materials.

CONSOL Energy, Inc. will pay an estimated $500 million over the next 20 years for the right to drill for shale gas on the 9,263 acres surrounding the airport. CONSOL also plans to invest another $500 million in drilling-related infrastructure and other costs.

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