What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Industry Representatives

Quality of Life – Noise

The impact of noise on nearby residents can be reduced in several ways Рby increasing the distance between the source of the sound and person hearing it (the receptor); by directing the noise away from the receptor; and by altering the time of day that the sound is produced. 1 It is important for the operator to be aware of the noise levels generated in order to help take appropriate corrective actions when needed; installing sound meters on the well pad to monitor sound levels 24 hours a day can therefore be useful. Residents can also monitor sound levels in their homes. 

When considering how to best mitigate noise impacts, it is important to take into account:

  • the combined effects of various sources of noise
  • the time of day when people are exposed
  • vulnerable groups, including people with medical problems or disabilities such as blindness or hearing impairment; those managing complex cognitive tasks; those in learning environments; fetuses; children, particularly during the stage of language acquisition; and the elderly
  • low frequency sounds, which are often experienced as vibrations or pressure sensitivity, and are extremely bothersome to certain individuals 2
  • distinctive sounds or those generated by an impact, particularly when they are intermittent or unpredictable
  • effects of noise on wildlife and livestock, which can also affect livelihoods

Measures that operators can undertake to reduce noise impacts in the exploratory drilling and development phases include:

  • erecting sound barriers like those used on highways around the site, or arranging infrastructure like storage tanks and other onsite materials (trucks, hay bales, topsoil) to serve as sound barriers
  • using rubber hammer covers
  • installing high-grade noise reduction baffles on equipment and air-relief lines

Quality of Life – Visual Impacts

During the construction of well pad facilities, following some basic principles may help to reduce the potential visual impacts of the site:

  • reducing the height of facilities and equipment when possible
  • placing equipment so that it is screened from view by topographical features or vegetation
  • painting equipment to blend with the surroundings
  • avoiding the use of reflective surfaces
  • ensuring the site is clean and well-kept

With regard to the potential disturbance caused by nighttime work, lighting should be used for safety purposes only and turned off when not in use. Operators can also use energy-efficient lighting and shielded light fixtures, as well as angle light paths downward rather than horizontally (see Box 11. Case Study:  West Texas Dark Sky Reserve). Nearby residents may need to use window coverings at night so that the light from the well pad does not disturb sleep or affect melatonin production and circadian rhythms. 3

Notes:

  1. See New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Study (April 2015)
  2. Earthworks. Oil and Gas at Your Door?
  3. McCawley, Air Noise and Light Monitoring.