The Youngstown, Ohio area has had 11 minor earthquakes since last March, and according to seismologist John Armbruster of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, you can blame those rumbles on fracking. A fracking wastewater disposal well has been identified as the source of the quakes — extraction companies inject the briny wastewater into the well, and the pressure from that injection ripples outwards, Armbruster says. The injection well that caused the Youngstown quakes has been shut down, but the area can still look forward to another year of uncharacteristic seismic activity.
Brine wastewater dumped in wells comes from drilling operations, including the so-called fracking process to extract gas from underground shale that has been a source of concern among environmental groups and some property owners. Injection wells have also been suspected in quakes in Ashtabula in far northeast Ohio, and in Arkansas, Colorado, and Oklahoma, Armbruster said.
Thousands of gallons of brine were injected daily into the Youngstown well that opened in 2010 until its owner, Northstar Disposal Services LLC, agreed Friday to stop injecting the waste into the earth as a precaution while authorities assessed any potential links to the quakes.
The Ohio Oil and Gas Association isn't even bothering to dispute this finding. Instead, they're just saying the fracking-related earthquakes are "a rare and isolated event." Because when a process is so destructive to the earth that it's causing miniature versions of natural disasters, it's really comforting to know it's only definitely caused 11 of them? Hell, gay marriage only caused one earthquake and some people are still endorsing a ban.
Expert: Wastewater well for oil and gas drillers triggered minor earthquakes in Ohio, New York Times.