Groups use Rhiza Labs’ software to assess impacts of Marcellus Shale Drilling

FracTrackerFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Concerned Groups Launch FracTracker.org to Assess Impacts of Marcellus Shale Drilling

Cutting-edge technology allows for real-time data-sharing throughout PA, WV & NY

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 29, 2010) – Today, one of the most diverse meetings ever assembled to address Marcellus Shale gas extraction concerns is being convened by the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health and the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds. The goals of this meeting are to openly discuss the impacts related to Marcellus Shale development, form a data-sharing network, and announce the launch of FracTracker.org, a new web-based tool for tracking and visualizing data related to gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region. 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 Marcellus Shale is a sedimentary rock formation underlying significant portions of PA, NY and WV, smaller areas in KY, MA, OH, TN and VA, and across Lake Erie into Southern Ontario; it is believed to hold trillions of cubic feet of methane gas, as well as other explosive gases and vapors. Serious economic, environmental and public health concerns surround the gas extraction process, including road infrastructure degradation, explosions and blowouts, agriculture and hunting and fishing impacts, water contamination from the disposal of waste fluids into surface waters, and human exposure to volatile organic compounds that off-gas from production facilities. FracTracker will enable people to better assess documented and predicted impacts and correlate them with the geographic location of wells drilled and accompanying production facilities. For the first time ever, people across many disciplines will be able to collaborate directly with communities and citizens in the collection and analysis of data that track these impacts across the Marcellus Shale play. FracTracker also has the potential to significantly influence future research and policy formulation.

“This assembly will provide a forum where various groups can discuss drilling issues and use data as a basis to collaborate and advocate for the health of communities in the Marcellus Shale region,” stated the Foundation for PA Watersheds’ Executive Director, John Dawes.

“FracTracker gives researchers the unique ability to directly engage citizens in the collection of data to effectively demonstrate the impacts of Marcellus Shale gas extraction,” commented Dr. Conrad Dan Volz, Director of CHEC.
Four additional meetings of a similar nature will be held in NY, Western PA, Eastern PA, and WV during July and August of 2010. Contact CHEC for more information.

FracTracker.org Contacts

The Center for Healthy Environments and Communities of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health exists to help individuals and communities identify the most important environmental problems facing them.
www.chec.pitt.edu Contact: Samantha Malone, 412-624-9379

The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds is a grant-making foundation that invests in efforts to protect healthy, natural streams around the state – and also to clean up pollution and repair damaged wildlife habitat. www.pennsylvaniawatersheds.org Contact: John Dawes, 814-669-4244

Rhiza Labs is a Pittsburgh-based software company that builds web-based tools that help organizations collect, analyze, visualize and share data. www.rhiza.imagebox.com Contact: Josh Knauer, 412-488-0600