TIM’s shale shock!

Refine researchers’ traffic impact computer modeling brings bad, and could-be-worse news to communities affected by shale drilling.

A computer modeling study by the UK-based Refine research consortium on fracking investigated the environmental impacts of road traffic associated with drilling and fracking operations. The study used a new traffic impacts model (TIM) to assess the short-term local impact of an individual site, as well as the long-term impact of a many sites operating over decades. The intent of the study is to inform the debate around the impact of increased traffic associated with fracking.

The study found that the traffic impact of a single well pad can create substantial increases in local air pollutants during activities such as the delivery of water and materials for fracking to the site. While averaging the values over the drilling and completion of all wells on a pad may give lower values, these may present a distorted picture of the actual impact on the local population. On the other hand, using TIM to explore a range of development scenarios spanning several decades showed that the overall impact on a region appears ‘somewhat negligible’ compared to general traffic or industrial activities. More from the informative GFZ/Potsdam Shale gas information center.

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