Recommendations for Environmental Baseline Monitoring in Areas of Shale Gas Development

Ward, R.S. and Rivett, M.O. and Smedley, P.L. and Allen, G. and Lewis, A. and Purvis, R.M. and Jordan, C.J. and Taylor-Curran, H. and Daraktchieva, Z. and Baptie, B.J. and Horleston, A. and Bateson, L. and Novellino, A. and Lowry, D and Fisher, R. E. (2020) Recommendations for Environmental Baseline Monitoring in Areas of Shale Gas Development. [Report]

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Abstract

Environmental monitoring plays a key role in risk assessment and management of industrial operations where there is the potential for the release of contaminants to the environment (i.e. air and water) or for structural damage (i.e. seismicity). The shale-gas industry is one such industry. It is also new to the UK and so specific environmental regulation and other controls have been introduced only recently. Associated with this is a need to carry out monitoring to demonstrate that the management measures to minimise the risk to the environment are being effective. While much of the monitoring required is common to other industries and potentially polluting activities, there are a number of requirements specific to shale gas and to what is a new and undeveloped industry. This report presents recommendations for environmental monitoring associated with shale-gas activities and in particular the monitoring required to inform risk assessment and establish the pre-existing environmental conditions at a site and surrounding area. This baseline monitoring is essential to provide robust data and criteria for detecting any future adverse environmental changes caused by the shale-gas operations. Monitoring is therefore required throughout the lifecycle of a shale gas operation. During this lifecycle, the objectives of the monitoring will change, from baseline characterisation to operational and post-operational monitoring. Monitoring requirements will also change. This report focusses on good practice in baseline monitoring and places it in the context of the longer-term environmental monitoring programme, recognising the need to transition from the baseline condition and to establish criteria for detecting any changes within the regulatory framework. The core suite of environmental monitoring activities currently required to support regulatory compliance, i.e. meet environmental and other permit conditions, encompasses monitoring of seismicity, water quality (groundwater and surface water) and air quality. Recommendations for each of these are included in this report. Additionally, recommendations for a number of other types of environmental monitoring are included – radon in air, soil gas and ground motion (subsidence/uplift). These are not associated directly with regulatory compliance but can provide information to support interpretation of statutory monitoring results. They are also considered important for public reassurance. Health impacts arising from radon and damage caused by ground motion are both issues of public concern in relation to shale gas.

ORCID iDs

Ward, R.S., Rivett, M.O. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4626-7985, Smedley, P.L., Allen, G., Lewis, A., Purvis, R.M., Jordan, C.J., Taylor-Curran, H., Daraktchieva, Z., Baptie, B.J., Horleston, A., Bateson, L., Novellino, A., Lowry, D and Fisher, R. E.;