Ohio: Fracking Did Cause Earthquakes

According to Muriel Kane of Raw Story, regulators in the State of Ohio announced yesterday that they have determined that the use of fracking for one gas well was almost certainly the cause of a dozen earthquakes near the well. Here’s Kane:

Ohio state regulators announced tough new regulations on Friday after concluding that the injection of wastewater underground as part of the controversial gas-drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” had almost certainly caused a dozen earthquakes near one well.

The regulations will require well operators to supply extensive geological data before requesting a new drill site, avoid certain rock formations, and keep track of pressure, volume, and the chemical makeup of all drilling water using state-of-the-art technology.

Maybe that will be enough; I’m not qualified to say. But remember, there is no allegation that the drillers in this incident violated any laws or regulations. Apparently they just got geologically unlucky in their choice of a place and a time to drill: One fault was not discovered until the drilling had begun; drilling should have been abandoned at that point. But I can imagine nothing more devastating to a community than earthquakes followed by pollution of groundwater. That must stop.

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  • jams o donnell (Shaun Downey)  On Saturday March 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Not impossible. A couple of minor tremors off the Northwest coast of England have been attributed to fracking shale gas. It’s very unlikely that fracking would cause a dangerous quake though. The pollution issue is a biggie though

    • Steve  On Sunday March 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      Don’t get me wrong, Shaun; I think it’s more than just possible… I think it’s likely that fracking leads to quakes, though the possibility will have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt before oil and gas companies will be held responsible for the consequences. The pollution issue is indeed the more critical; a township’s entire water supply could be contaminated, more or less permanently, in a single episode. That needs to be seriously researched, preferably not by turning actual towns into guinea pigs.

      I happen to know that oil company geophysicists have a fairly deep understanding (pun probably intended) of the behavior of sound pulses through layers of soil and rock of various types; I’m sure they can measure and calculate pretty well whether a given location is liable to such a danger. Oh, and they have the money to do that measurement and computation, too. 🙂

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