Quantcast
Energy

Did Fracking Cause Earthquakes in Ohio?

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has ordered Texas-based energy company Hilcorp to halt all fracking operations in Mahoning County after at least four earthquakes shook the area on Monday.

A magnitude 3.0 earthquake at 2:26 a.m. and a magnitude 2.6 at 11:45 a.m. on March 10 were among those reported in Poland Township just south of Youngstown near a fracking site with seven drilling wells, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“It’s an area which (before 2011) had no history of earthquakes,” John Armbruster, a retired Columbia University geology professor, told the Columbus Dispatch. “It looks very, very suspicious.”

Ohio Department of Natural Resources personnel say earthquakes near Youngstown are not related to injection wells, but some have a different opinion. Photo credit: Ecopolitologist/Flickr

The ODNR has stressed that the order to suspend drilling was precautionary and that the earthquakes were not related to fracking waste-injection wells which were tied to severe earthquakes near Youngstown in 2011. Armbruster monitored those wells along with Ohio officials.

"We are in the process of analyzing the data," Mark Bruce, an ODNR spokesman, said in a statement. "All available information indicates the events are not connected to Class II injection activities.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we notified the only oil and gas operator in the area and ordered them to halt all operations until further assessment can take place.”

However, Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer of Youngstown State University has issued an open letter suggesting that the epicenters of the quakes are even closer to the fracking site than originally reported.

"Simply put, the longitude, latitude and depth of the shale well laterals are within a few thousand feet from the epicenters of the earthquakes," he wrote.

He also questions the state and Hilcorp's swift denial that the temblors are related to the injection wells.

"Reading between the lines both the regulator and company seem to be implying that by, ruling out injection induced seismicity this somehow rules out other forms of human-induced seismicity, such as the fracking that was going on at the same time and same location as the earthquakes," he wrote.

"I find ODNR’s focus on injection-induced seismicity as a bit ironic, since as recently as 2011 these regulator were avidly denying injection-induced seismicity in Youngstown, even after we suffered eight regional-size earthquakes. Research—known at the time—concluded that the earthquakes were induced by frackwaste disposal wells."

ODNR has not provided any more information since its halting order earlier this year.

Radioactive fracking wastewater has been coming to Ohio for disposal since 2011, when neighboring Pennsylvania ordered oil and gas companies to stop dumping fracking wastewater into the state's streams and rivers. 

In 2012, more than 14 million barrels of toxic waste from oil and gas drilling were injected into the ground in Ohio’s Class II disposal wells, with 8.16 million barrels of waste from other states. Wastewater injection wells pose a series of threats to public health and the environment, including groundwater contamination. 

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Rice University marine biologist Adrienne Correa takes samples at a reef in Flower Garden Banks. Jesse Cancelmo / Rice University

Hurricane Harvey Runoff Threatens Coral Reefs

Hurricane Harvey's record rains didn't just unleash a torrent of floodwaters into the Gulf of Mexico—this freshwater could be harming coral reefs which require saltwater to live, according to new research.

After Harvey dumped more than 13 trillion gallons of rain over southeast Texas, researchers detected a 10 percent drop in salinity at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, located 100 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas.

Keep reading... Show less

Pruitt Wants to Make the EPA Less Accountable to the Public

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) breaks the law by missing deadlines, allowing polluters to violate regulations that protect our health and environment, one way the public holds it accountable is by taking the agency to court. Scott Pruitt and his corporate polluter allies see this as a problem, so Monday, the administrator moved to curtail the agency's practice of settling lawsuits with outside groups, making it easier to skirt the law.

"Pruitt's doing nothing more than posturing about a nonexistent problem and political fiction," John Walke, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate and Clean Air program said in reaction. "His targeting of legal settlements, especially where EPA has no defense to breaking the law, will just allow violations to persist, along with harms to Americans."

Keep reading... Show less
Oil on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Julie Dermansky

Nearly 400,000 Gallons of Oil Spews Into Gulf of Mexico, Could Be Largest Spill Since Deepwater Horizon

Last week, a pipe owned by offshore oil and gas operator LLOG Exploration Company, LLC spilled up to 393,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, reminding many observers of the Deepwater Horizon explosion seven years ago that spewed approximately 210 million gallons of crude into familiar territory.

Now, a report from Bloomberg suggests that the LLOG spill could be the largest in the U.S. since the 2010 BP blowout, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Keep reading... Show less
Shutterstock

Big Food Is Worried About Millennials Avoiding Animal Products

By Nathan Runkle

Hundreds of leaders from fast-food chains, marketing agencies and poultry production companies recently gathered in North Carolina for the 2017 Chicken Marketing Summit to play golf and figure out how to make you eat more animals.

One session focused on marketing chicken to millennials. Richard Kottmeyer, a senior managing partner at Fork to Farm Advisory Services, explained to the crowd that millennials are "lost" and need to be "inspired and coached." His reasoning? Because there are now "58 ways to gender identify on Facebook." Also, because most millennial women take nude selfies, the chicken industry needs to be just as "naked" and transparent.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Strange Days: Ex-Hurricane Ophelia Batters Ireland Under Orange Skies

By Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson

Ex-Hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland hard with full hurricane-like fury on Monday, bringing powerful winds that caused widespread damage and power outages. At least two deaths have been reported from trees falling on cars, and The Irish Times said at least 360,000 ESB Networks customers lost power in Ireland because of the storm.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
PBouman / Shutterstock

EPA Limits Use of Problematic Herbicide Dicamba—But Is That Enough?

By Dan Nosowitz

Dicamba has been in use as a local pesticide for decades, but it's only recently that Monsanto has taken to using it in big, new ways. The past two years have seen the rollout of dicamba-resistant seed for soybean and cotton, as well as a new way to apply it: broad spraying.

But dicamba, it turns out, has a tendency to vaporize and drift with the wind, and it if lands on a farm that hasn't planted Monsanto's dicamba-resistant seed, the pesticide will stunt and kill crops in a very distinctive way, with a telltale cupping and curling of leaves, as seen above. Drift from dicamba has affected millions of acres of crops, prompting multiple states to issue temporary bans on the pesticide. Farmers have been taking sides, either pro-dicamba or anti, and at least one farmer has been killed in a dispute over its use.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Runoff from a farm field in Iowa during a rain storm. Lynn Betts / U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Drinking Water for Millions in Rural America Contaminated With Suspected Carcinogen

Drinking water supplies for millions of Americans in farm country are contaminated with a suspected cancer-causing chemical from fertilizer, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group.

The contaminant is nitrate, which gets into drinking water sources when chemical fertilizer or manure runs off poorly protected farm fields. Nitrate contaminates drinking water for more than 15 million people in 49 states, but the highest levels are found in small towns surrounded by row-crop agriculture. Major farm states where the most people are at risk include California, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kansas.

Keep reading... Show less
www.youtube.com

Trump's Approval Rating on Hurricane Response Sinks 20 Points After Puerto Rico

President Trump's approval rating for overseeing the federal government's response to hurricanes fell by 20 points after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, a CNN poll conducted by SSRS revealed.

Trump's approval rating for responding to hurricanes Harvey and Irma stood at 64 percent in mid-September. Just a month later, the rating dropped to 44 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox