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Adequacy of Current State Setbacks for Directional High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing

Child on a swing with fracking site in the background

Not few HVHF sites are in close proximity to where people live. (Photo with permission of the Sierra Club)

The evidence uncovered by this review suggests that presently utilized setbacks may leave the public vulnerable to explosions, radiant heat, toxic gas clouds, and air pollution from hydraulic fracturing activities.

Abstract
Background: There is an increasing awareness of the multiple potential pathways leading to human health risks from hydraulic fracturing. Setback distances are a legislative method to mitigate potential risks.
Objectives: We attempted to determine whether legal setback distances between well-pad sites and the public are adequate in three shale plays.
Methods: We reviewed geography, current statutes and regulations, evacuations, thermal modeling, air pollution studies, and vapor cloud modeling within the Marcellus, Barnett, and Niobrara Shale Plays.
Discussion: The evidence suggests that presently utilized setbacks may leave the public vulnerable to explosions, radiant heat, toxic gas clouds, and air pollution from hydraulic fracturing activities.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that setbacks may not be sufficient to reduce potential threats to human health in areas where hydraulic fracturing occurs. It is more likely that a combination of reasonable setbacks with controls for other sources of pollution associated with the process will be required.

Bibliography:
Marsha Haley, Michael McCawley, Anne C. Epstein, Bob Arrington, and Elizabeth Ferrell Bjerke
Adequacy of Current State Setbacks for Directional High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus, Barnett, and Niobrara Shale Plays
Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1510547

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