Ohio Government Confirms Earthquakes Caused by Fracking-Related Injection Wells

Monday, March 12, 2012
In addition to drinking water contamination, earthquakes can now be added to the harmful consequences of the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, according to the Ohio state government. In fracking, energy companies use powerful pumps to force pressurized fluid into deep layers of rock, causing fractures, which allow the extraction of otherwise unavailable natural gas or oil. In a recently released report, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) concluded that a rash of 12 earthquakes in the Youngstown, Ohio, area between March and December 2011 was likely due to nearby fracking operations. Those temblors began just three months after fracking began, ranged from 2.1 to 4.0 magnitude and led ODNR to shut down the wells on December 30. In the new report, ODNR also promulgates several new regulations to prevent future fracking-related earthquakes.
Despite industry complaints that the report is premature in linking the quakes to the wells, and as AllGov has previously reported, earthquakes have been tied to fracking in other locales as well. These include Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, British Columbia, Lancashire and other locales. Oklahoma, a major location for fracking, experienced between two and six earthquakes a year between 1972 and 2008; but in 2010 there were 1,047, including a 5.6 quake on November 5 that was the strongest in the state’s history. Although the earthquake problem 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, the fact remains that this is a necessary part of the overall fracking process.
-Matt Bewig
To Learn More:
Ohio Closes Fracking-Related Injection Wells after Earthquakes (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Add Quakes to Rumblings Over Gas Rush (by Henry Fountain, New York Times) 


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