on safety and well integrity, water, air, footprint, and community. Dr. Donnelly stated that although there is a need for additional research, these focus areas highlight what can be done currently to protect human health based on available information while working to ensure growing energy needs.
Incidents of the last 2 years have highlighted the primacy of well integrity for any hydrocarbon operation according to Dr. Donnelly. Each of Royal Dutch Shell’s wells is individually designed and pressure tested before being put into production. He went on further to state that the company focuses on water recycling and protection. Dr. Donnelly emphasized that Royal Dutch Shell works with local communities, to understand water supply issues in the area and to ensure that corporate decisions take into account the entire water resource in an area. For air quality and reducing air emissions, he described that the company’s effort to add fitted catalytic technology to diesel generators in some areas. According to Dr. Donnelly, the company establishes an interactive dialogue early on with the community to discuss local concerns, for example, rerouting delivery trucks to limit traffic around schools or through the middle of town. The company’s community principle utilizes health impact assessment to identify socioeconomic impacts. Incorporating these simple things in addition to research studies is a key approach to obtaining gas safely, according to Dr. Donnelly.
Bernard D. Goldstein, M.D.
Professor Emeritus, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health
Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh
Bernard Goldstein began by describing, in his opinion, the unfortunately typical progression of environmental and occupational issues related to human health. A new technology is not adequately evaluated for potential adverse health consequences. Public concern follows that results in calls for investigation of a potential causal relationship between the new technology and adverse health consequences, which is then usually hampered by inadequate exposure and toxicity information to perform a retrospective analysis. Dr. Goldstein identified barriers: many changes occur rapidly over time, disease clusters occur whether causal or not, litigation occurs, and message control can be harmful in terms of getting research efforts started. The end result is usually that solutions are delayed. Over time, industry will find technologies to reduce pollutants, which is ultimately in their best interest.
Specific to hydraulic fracturing, Dr. Goldstein agrees with earlier statements that the public is confused and concerned. For instance, is hydraulic fracturing old or new technology and does it cause groundwater