Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fracking-related earthquakes continue in Oklahoma

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 8:57 AM

click to enlarge EARTHQUAKE FUEL?: A fracking operation at work in the Bakken Formation in North Dakota. - WIKIPEDIA
  • WIKIPEDIA
  • EARTHQUAKE FUEL?: A fracking operation at work in the Bakken Formation in North Dakota.

DeSmog, a blog covering climate change and energy news, writes on fracking-related earthquakes in Oklahoma. Arkansas is again cited as a state that successfully began regulating disposal of fracking wastewater after evidence emerged that injection wells — in which spent large amounts of spent fracking fluid are forced underground for disposal — were responsible for increased earthquake activity.

“We are human guinea pigs in a fracking industry experiment,” Angela Spotts, founder of Stop Fracking Payne County and a Stillwater, Oklahoma homeowner, told DeSmog. “Regulators tell us they can get the earthquakes under control as they tinker with the quantity that wastewater wells are allowed to inject into the ground. But despite their efforts, the quakes have continued.”

Spotts’ group has called for a moratorium on injection wells that dispose of fracking wastewater. “Shutting the wells down stopped the earthquakes that hit Arkansas. That is what we need to do here too,” Spotts said. 

But that's not the only Arkansas connection. DeSmog interviews residents of Greenbrier, Ark. who say the wastewater resulting from ongoing fracking operations is being trucked to injection wells elsewhere. Specifically, Oklahoma.

It took a 4.7 magnitude earthquake that shook Greenbrier in 2011 to convince regulators to shut down the area’s wells. “Since then, the fracking wastewater has been trucked to Oklahoma. I see trucks that are hauling wastewater heading east on Interstate 40 for the state line all the time,” said DeTurck.

Skinner admits the OCC [the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates public utilities in the state] does not know exactly how much wastewater is coming into Oklahoma from Arkansas and other states. But he doesn’t think it is very much. The agency can’t track how much is delivered to private wells, but can obtain the records of what is received at commercial ones.

Ed Henshaw, an Oklahoma resident who lives near the Arkansas state line, doesn’t agree. During a hearing on earthquakes at the state capitol on January 15, he said he sees semi-truck after semi-truck hauling wastewater from Aransas on Interstate 40 across the state line into Oklahoma.

For more on the situation with fracking and seismic activity in Oklahoma, read Rivka Galchen's story in the New Yorker last year, "The Weather Underground."

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