Environmental Standards, Inc. was recently awarded a contract by the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) to coordinate and oversee an inter-laboratory study for the analysis of dissolved gases (e.g., methane) in groundwater samples.
While there are several published analytical methods for the analysis of dissolved light gases in the aqueous medium, there is not currently a US EPA published method for dissolved gases.
For the published procedures that do exist (e.g., RSK-175), these methods do not provide adequate specificity for a significant number of sampling, volume, temperature, and calibration variables that can substantially impact the quantitative analysis of samples.
Given the substantial increase in oil and gas exploration on the shale plays throughout the US, the analysis of dissolved gases to establish a baseline in comparison with post completion groundwater samples has become increasingly important for regulatory and legal purposes. With the growing number of commercial and regulatory laboratories performing dissolved gas analysis, significant differences have been routinely noted during split sampling investigations. Consistent with its guiding principal of “implementing state-of-the-art environmental protection across all of their operations,” the MSC has proactively taken on this initiative.
The goal of the study is to identify those critical variables that influence commercial laboratories’ quantitation of dissolved gases in groundwater. Environmental Standards’ professional geoscientists will be preparing the split samples to ensure minimal variability of the sampling process. Based on the inter-laboratory data collected and subsequent data analysis, a final report will be prepared that describes the major factors influencing the variability observed with dissolved gas concentrations reported by each of the participating laboratories.
This study will have national importance and the results will likely lead to a highly specific consensus standard for the analysis for light gases in ground water. In addition to the MSC, a number of stakeholders, including state and federal regulatory agencies and bodies that set industry standards, will be either participating or following the study.
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