At least two Ohio earthquakes hit Monday morning, causing authorities to shut down a fracking operation in the area until it could be investigated.
The magnitude 3.0 quake at about 2:26 a.m. was strong enough to wake up some residents in Poland Township, according to local NBC affiliate WFMJ. Reports said the smaller quake followed at 11:44 a.m.The deeper these operations drill into the ground to get oil, the more that this becomes a public safety issue, not just an environmental issue. These operations pay good money while they last -- but then they close down at some point, creating a cycle of boom and bust. While we don't know at this point whether fracking caused these earthquakes, the suspicion was strong enough that authorities called a halt until they could find out.
"All available information indicates the events are not connected to Class II injection activities," Mark Bruce says, ODNR public information officer.
"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. ODNR is using all available resources to determine the exact circumstances surrounding this event and will take the appropriate actions necessary to protect public health and safety."
Ohio has had a previous problem with earthquakes that was linked to fracking; Al-Jazeera:
Ohio already has regulations prohibiting the disposal of fracking wastewater in certain counties. In January 2012, the state halted the disposal of oil and gas waste disposal in injection wells within a five-mile radius of a well in Youngstown that was linked to a series of earthquakes in 2011.This has been well-documented.
Alison Auciello, the Ohio organizer for environmental group Food and Water Watch, told Al Jazeera that the location and depth of the latest earthquakes’ epicenters are consistent with the particular drilling sites — meaning they may have been caused by the fracking operation itself rather than waste disposal.Even the smallest quakes can impact the quality of life. The Business Journal Daily:
Wilma Subra, an environmental consultant and veteran activist, told Al Jazeera that it is only a matter of time before fracking operations cause earthquakes. “When you put that much liquid under extreme pressure down into a shale formation, it leaks out of the shale formation and into an area where there is a fault, resulting in an earthquake,” she said.
Valerie Dearing, a resident of Poland Village and a member of the FrackFree Mahoning opposition group, drove to the closest public vantage point of the Hilcorp well pads -- near the township park -- Monday afternoon. Dearing frequently visits the site, keeping tabs on the drilling. Gas flares, compession and storage tanks can be seen closest to the park road; the completion rigs believed to be used in the latest round of fracking visible but obscured by distance.Should fracking continue to grow in the US, expect these quakes to become even more common.
"I'm concerned about the earthquakes. I've been reading all about the so-called frack quakes in Texas and that area and I figured it would just be a matter of time before Ohio experienced frack quakes," Dearing said. "I don't know if there will be anymore frack quakes but I'm very concerned."
Dearing said the early morning earthquake woke her "from a deep sleep and shook the paintings on my walls."
A resident of an upscale development off Struthers Road said she and her husband slept through the first earthquake. "But my girls were freaking out," she said. Her youngest, an elementary school student, "was really scared."