Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Two Kansas counties with oil and gas operations declare earthquakes a threat to public health

Officials in two Kansas counties where disposal wells are operated have "declared earthquakes 'an immediate threat to public health, safety and welfare,'" Ziva Branstetter reports for the Tulsa World. The Kansas Corporation Commission ordered operators of disposal wells in parts of Harper and Sumner counties "to dramatically reduce the volume of oil- and gas-production wastewater they were pumping underground."

The order "says the commission can fine companies that fail to comply up to $10,000 per day. It also says the agency will no longer issue permits for some types of high-volume wells in the affected area," Branstetter writes.

Harper and Sumner counties have seen an increase in earthquakes over the past two years, and "earthquakes in Kansas are on pace to double this year," Branstetter writes. The Kansas counties are just across the border from Oklahoma, where disposal wells have been blamed for a dramatic increase in earthquakes in recent years. Oklahoma led the lower 48 states in earthquakes with 585 of magnitude 3 or higher in 2014, more than the state had in the previous 35 years combined. (Kansas Geological Survey graphic)

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