Fracking earthquakes

Oh, what’s a few earth tremors when it comes to sucking gas out of the earth? These anti-fracking types just need to count their blessings:

CLEVELAND (AP) – A northeast Ohio well used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas drilling almost certainly caused a series of 11 minor quakes in the Youngstown area since last spring, a seismologist investigating the quakes said Monday.

Research is continuing on the now-shuttered injection well at Youngstown and seismic activity, but it might take a year for the wastewater-related rumblings in the earth to dissipate, said John Armbruster of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.

Brine wastewater dumped in wells comes from drilling operations, including the so-called fracking process to extract gas from underground shale that has been a source of concern among environmental groups and some property owners. Injection wells have also been suspected in quakes in Astabula in far northeast Ohio, and in Arkansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma, Armbruster said.

Thousands of gallons of brine were injected daily into the Youngstown well that opened in 2010 until its owner, Northstar Disposal Services LLC, agreed Friday to stop injecting the waste into the earth as a precaution while authorities assessed any potential links to the quakes.

After the latest and largest quake Saturday at 4.0 magnitude, state officials announced their beliefs that injecting wastewater near a fault line had created enough pressure to cause seismic activity. They said four inactive wells within a five-mile radius of the Youngstown well would remain closed. But they also stressed that injection wells are different from drilling wells that employ fracking.

Armbruster said Monday he expects more quakes will occur despite the shutdown of the Youngstown well.
“The earthquakes will trickle on as a kind of a cascading process once you’ve caused them to occur,” he said. “This one year of pumping is a pulse that has been pushed into the ground, and it’s going to be spreading out for at least a year.”

The quakes began last March with the most recent on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve each occurring within 100 meters of the injection well. The Saturday quake in McDonald, outside of Youngstown, caused no serious injuries or property damage.

Youngstown Democrat Rep. Robert Hagan on Monday renewed his call for a moratorium on fracking and well injection disposal to allow a review of safety issues.

“If it’s safe, I want to do it,” he said in a telephone interview. “If it’s not, I don’t want to be part and parcel to destruction of the environment and the fake promise of jobs.”

He said a moratorium “really is what we should be doing, mostly toward the injection wells, but we should be asking questions on drilling itself.”

3 thoughts on “Fracking earthquakes

  1. There is research going back to the seventies – UnvCO, CA, Oregon State – that indicates injecting water into the bedrock causes earthquakes. On one location here on The Oregon High Desert a permit for hydro-electric generation via injected effuse onto the hot magma (lava) not far below the surface to generate steam to turn turbines was denied specifically because this research indicates injecting water into the bedrock causes earthquakes.

    We have known this for a while. The best that can come out of this is an awareness of just how thoroughly The People have been hornswoggled. Bamboozled, had the wool pulled over their eyes. The worst? Get used to earthquakes.

    Could be worse – I can step out on my deck and view seven volcanoes, three of them active. Thirty years ago I watched one erupt. Earthquakes are nothing.

  2. Good time to be in the basement/foundation repair business. A lot of homes are going to need a lot of work.

  3. Well, now it’s time for those who suffered damages during 11 quakes to sue the shit out of the companies that did the deed and the regulators who OK’d it.

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