Quantcast

Did Fracking Cause Earthquakes in Ohio?

Energy

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Juvenile hatchery salmon flushed from a tanker truck in San Francisco Bay, California. Ben Moon

That salmon sitting in your neighborhood grocery store's fish counter won't look the same to you after watching Artifishal, a new film from Patagonia.

Read More Show Less
Natdanai Pankong / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Coconut meat is the white flesh inside a coconut.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

By Taylor Jones, RD

Oats are a highly nutritious grain with many health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.

Read More Show Less
Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images

It seems like every day a new diet is declared the healthiest — paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, to name a few — while government agencies regularly release their own recommended dietary guidelines. But there may not be an ideal one-size-fits-all diet, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Logging shown as part of a thinning and restoration effort in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon on Oct. 22, 2014. Oregon Department of Forestry / CC BY 2.0

The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Maskot / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to wonder which foods are healthiest.

Read More Show Less
Homes in Washington, DC's Brookland neighborhood were condemned to clear room for a highway in the 1960s. The community fought back. Brig Cabe / DC Public Library

By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia

In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."

Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.

Read More Show Less