In the last week, eleven earthquakes have been felt in Northeastern Ohio, prompting authorities to order local fracking operations to halt.
Fracking (colloquial for hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method to extract natural gas) companies insist they’re not causing any problems. With regards to possible water contamination, for example, companies insist the witches-brew of chemicals they pump into the ground is a company secret. Instead of letting residents in the area know what could be getting into their drinking water, fracking companies are hiding behind the corporate shield. Hopefully, this isn’t giving them free rein to simply dump whatever they like into the ground without regard for human health.
Water contamination relate to fracking might not be so obvious, but what about more-frequent occurrence of earthquakes in the area? In Northeastern Ohio, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), five earthquakes have registered 2.1 to 3.0 in the same general area, about a mile south of Lowellville. Incidentally, there are seven oil and natural gas extraction wells in the same area, run by Hilcorp Energy. On Monday, after the last handful of quakes, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) ordered Hilcorp to cease operations until they could determine the nature and source of the unusual seismic activity.
Earthquakes have been linked to fracking in Ohio before, such as in 2012, when a disposal well was decommissioned in Youngstown. Considering that this latest series of quakes has been localized to the same area and epicenter depth as the natural gas well are operating, there seems to be a clear link. Hilcorp, on the other hand, says that there are no disposal wells in the area, only regular fracking wells, so it shouldn’t be linked the same way as was Youngstown in 2012.
This seems like far too much of a coincidence for the recent seismic activity in Ohio to not be linked to the fracking operations in the area.