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Pitt Center Launches Online Tracking Tool to Assess Impact of Marcellus Shale Drilling

Cutting-Edge Technology Allows Real-Time Data Sharing Throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York

PITTSBURGH, June 29, 2010 The Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health has convened a group of experts to address the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling with the launch of www.Fractracker.org, a new web-based tool for tracking and visualizing data related to gas extraction.

“For the first time, experts across many disciplines will be able to collaborate directly with communities and citizens in the collection and analysis of data that track the impact of drilling at the Marcellus Shale,” said Conrad Dan Volz, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., director of CHEC and assistant professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. “This will help guide future research and policies related to this issue.”

Fractracker, hosted by the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds and managed by CHEC, was funded by The Heinz Endowments and designed by Pittsburgh-based Rhiza Labs. The system is designed to assess documented and predicted impacts of gas extraction and correlate them with the geographic location of wells and production facilities.

Serious economic, environmental and public health concerns have been raised concerning gas extraction at the Marcellus Shale, a sedimentary rock formation that may contain trillions of cubic feet of methane gas, as well as other explosive gases and vapors. Some of these issues include road infrastructure degradation, explosions and blowouts, effects on agriculture, hunting and fishing, water contamination from the disposal of waste fluids into surface waters and human exposure to volatile organic compounds.

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