Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ohio officials say fracking is the probable cause of a recent rash of earthquakes in one county

On Friday the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced that hydraulic fracturing and injection wells are the probable cause of earthquakes in the Poland Township of Mahoning County. This seems to be the first time state officials have gone on record connecting the recent upsurge in earthquakes in fracking areas to the practice, Bob Downing reports for the Akron Beacon Journal. Mahoning County doesn't have a history of seismic activity but had five earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater on March 10 and 11.

As a result of the decision, "New permits for drilling within three miles of a known underground geologic fault or area of seismic activity greater than 2.0 magnitude will require companies to install seismic monitors," Downing writes. "The order would affect any quakes since 1999 that were recorded at magnitude 2.0 or greater. If those monitors detect a quake of 1.0 magnitude or greater, drilling activities would be halted while the cause is investigated. If that investigation reveals a probable connection to hydraulic fracturing, all well completion operations will be suspended."

James Zehringer, director of the Department of Natural Resources, told Downing, "While we can never be 100 percent sure that drilling activities are connected to a seismic event, caution dictates that we take these new steps to protect human health, safety and the environment." Earthquakes in states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas have been linked to fracking, but state officials have either denied those claims or are in the process of conducting studies. (Read more)

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