Man-made earthquakes

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A group of state and federal agency employees came together with some of the biggest oil and gas developers to try to figure out how to stop injection wells from causing induced seismicity.  The group, now call the StatesFirst released a primer on September 28, 2015.

Citizens believe the idea that human beings can control earthquakes is absurd and an example of hubris. No one can guarantee that earthquakes can be kept small or non-damaging.  It is not known where all of the faults are that may become lubricated by disposal or injection well fluids, thereby possibly inducing a quake.  The quake problem is often associated with unknown faults, many of which cannot be adequately mapped since the cost to do so would be prohibitive.  Continuing on the path the oil and gas industry is on along with some of their allies is gambling with the public health, safety, and welfare. That is unacceptable to citizens.   There will be continued public outcry about the recklessness of allowing massive amounts of fracking waste to be injected under the places where we live – our homes and our communities.  This is too great a risk to public health, safety and welfare.  Human beings cannot control earthquakes with 100% certainty.  The risk of causing larger, damaging, even life-threatening earthquakes is too high a price to pay. As evidenced by numerous news reports, efforts to prevent man-made earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas apparently are not working. Earthquakes are continuing.

Agency officials are toying with earthquakes.  We find it disturbing that no impacted community groups are listed as participants in the production of this report, yet numerous oil and gas companies and only one environmental group were involved in developing this primer.

Attempts to stop the earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas, for example, are apparently not working to protect public health and safety.  In fact, Oklahoma, which has now surpassed California for earthquakes, just had two quakes on September 24, 2015 that police reported caused power outages.

If earthquakes are continuing in places where officials are trying to stop or “mitigate” them, why should the public have confidence that they can be protected from man-made earthquakes anywhere?

In the Youngstown, Ohio area, there are now three man-made earthquake sites related to injection wells or hydraulic fracturing operations instead of just the original site associated with the now-famous 4.0 magnitude New Year’s Eve quake on December 31, 2011.  The number of earthquake sites grew despite new state regulations, and a 7-mile moratorium, in an effort to control the quakes.  How many more earthquake sites might there be in Youngstown and the surrounding area if the state continues on the same misguided path it is currently following?

Just yesterday a 2.1 earthquake occurred in Harrison County, Ohio,  home to a large number of horizontally fracked wells. At this time we cannot say that the earthquake was caused by fracking but it was in close proximity to an area where in 2013 over 400 earthquakes occurred.

The truth is that the constant creation of millions of gallons of fracking waste fluid must stop. There is no good solution to where it will all go. How many man-made earthquakes with potential contamination of drinking water and other problems might be caused by misguided, inadequate attempts to handle massive amounts of waste fluids?  This is too risky for public health and safety.

Officials need to stop pretending that they can control earthquakes. They must protect the public health, safety, and welfare. They need to listen to the suffering and the voices of the many people who have earthquake damage in their homes that they themselves must try to pay for even though industry, who may have caused the quakes, should be held accountable legally, financially, and morally for any damage done.

Further concerns are:  What effect will quakes, even repeated smaller tremors, have on the integrity of the fracking or injection wells themselves?  How might this threaten drinking water supplies for families and communities?  How might this impact our aging infrastructure?

They do not emphasize a major risk factor in their equation, that being citizens and public health and safety.  We do not accept the thinking that it is an acceptable risk to cause earthquakes for the benefit of a few jobs tied to fracking.

CHEJ is working with community groups on fracking waste (including injection wells) who are planning a National Day of Action on Fracking Waste for  November 17th.  If you would like more information please contact us at info@chej.org