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A quake-up call

REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton

Oklahomans are suing frackers over earthquakes.

Residents of Pawnee, Oklahoma, have filed a class-action lawsuit against 27 oil and natural gas companies, alleging that they are responsible for damage caused by earthquakes linked to fracking.

Before the state’s recent fracking boom, earthquakes in the region were relatively rare, but in recent years, Oklahoma has seen thousands of quakes. Many scientists believe the temblors are caused by frackers injecting their chemical-tainted wastewater deep underground.

Pawnee has seen nearly 800 earthquakes in the past year, including a magnitude 5.8 in September, the largest on record in the state. That quake resulted in 289 insurance claims, reports the Tulsa World, but nearly four in five claims made in the area since 2010 have been denied because most homeowners insurance doesn’t cover earthquakes.

The lawsuit alleges that the energy companies have displayed “reckless disregard for public or private safety,” and seeks an unspecified amount for both property damage and emotional distress.

“We have clients who don’t allow their children to go upstairs because they’re afraid the roof will fall in on them,” Curt Marshall, an attorney for the Pawnee residents, told the Associated Press. “There’s a lot of fear; when is the next big one?”