Colorado Halts Use of Injection Well for Fracking Waste because of Earthquakes

Thursday, June 26, 2014
University of Colorado-Boulder researcher checks a seismic monitor after Weld County earthquake (photo: KUSA)

Unexpected earthquakes have again prompted concerns about the geologic impact of fracking, this time in Colorado where state regulators have temporarily halted operations at a waste disposal well due to recent seismic activity.


On Monday, a 2.6 magnitude earthquake occurred near Greeley. This part of Colorado is home to the Front Range gas patch and a large collection of fracking wells. The quake was not the first to strike the area, with a 3.4 temblor occurring on May 31.


In the wake of this week’s quake, state experts began to wonder if an injection well used to dispose of waste fluid from fracking operations was causing the ground to shake.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) took action on Tuesday, ordering a 20-day halt at the well operated by High Sierra Water Services in Weld County to allow seismologists from the University of Colorado (CU) time to study the situation, according to The Colorado Independent.


The university experts had also “picked up additional evidence of low-level seismic activity near the injection site,” according to the commission.


“In light of the findings of CU’s team, we think it’s important we review additional data, bring in additional expertise and closely review the history of injection at this site in order to more fully understand any potential link to seismicity and use of this disposal well,” COGCC director Matt Lepore said in a prepared statement.


The 20-day shutdown will allow the seismologists to collect and analyze more data to determine whether the injection operations are the cause of the earthquakes.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Colorado Drilling Regulators Halt Injection-Well Activity in Reaction to Greeley Quake (by John Tomasic, Colorado Independent)

More than Half of Fracked Wells Are Within 10 Miles of an Active Earthquake Fault (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Distant Earthquakes Linked to Problems at Fracking Sites in U.S. (by Ken Broder, AllGov)


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