Ohio Closes Fracking-Related Injection Wells after Earthquakes
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
After a significant earthquake hit on New Year’s Eve, leaders in Ohio ordered the temporary closure of one natural gas-related injection well in the eastern portion of the state near Youngstown and the postponement of the opening of four more.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ordered the shutdown of the wells after a 4.0 trembler struck on Saturday. The quake was the largest of eleven that have shaken the region since March and raised questions about the impact of hydraulic fracturing on underground faults.
The natural gas drilling technique known as “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking” entails injecting millions of gallons of chemicals, sand or fluids into a well to crack open the rocks and allow easier access to the natural gas. The problem in Ohio appears to be related not to the drilling itself, but to the disposal of wastewater from the drilling by forcing it back into the earth into injection wells.
Ohio is not the first state to put a halt to fracking-related operations after unexpected seismic activity. Arkansas’ Oil and Gas Commission last July halted the use of wastewater-injection wells in a 1,150-square-mile area struck by increased earthquake activity.
Oklahoma, a major location for hydraulic fracturing, experienced between two and six earthquakes a year between 1972 and 2008. In 2010 there were 1,047, including a 5.6 quake on November 5 that was the strongest in the state’s history.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
Official: 4 Ohio Fluid-Injection Wells Cannot Open in Wake of Quake (by Maggie Schneider, CNN)
How Fracking Might Have Led to an Ohio Earthquake (by Pete Spotts, Christian Science Monitor)
State Natural Resources Director Reaches Agreement to Halt Operation of Youngstown Area Injection Well (press release, Ohio Department of Natural Resources)
Fracking Suspected in Rash of Earthquakes in Unlikely Places (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Arkansas Suspends Drilling of Injection Wells after Earthquake Swarm (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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