• Fracking has caused earthquakes in United States

    5th September 2013 | News | Claire
  • New research officially confirmed that ‘fracking’ caused the set of nearly a dozen mysterious earthquakes in Ohio in 2011.

    Scientists have spent the past two years trying to explain why Youngstown, Ohio- a town where there had been now reported earthquakes before December 2010- suddenly fell victim to 109 small quakes.

    The latest findings draw a definitive connection between the opening of a injection well site near Youngstown and the ensuing string of earthquakes, providing scientific proof for activists who are trying to prevent the spread of the controversial practice.

    Fracking is a process that streams high pressure water and chemicals into a certain type of rock, leading it to let out natural gas which is then stored and used as an
    energy alternative to oil.

    While the earthquakes were never very powerful and caused no serious injuries or damages, the fact that they are occurring in the midwest- a region not known for its faultlines- is particularly concerning.

    ‘Earthquakes were triggered by fluid injection shortly after the injection initiated — less than two weeks,’ Columbia University seismologist Wo-Young Kim told LiveScience on Wednesday.

    ‘Previously, we knew (of) unusual earthquakes around Youngstown, Ohio, only on March 17, around 80 days after injection began. If we had better seismographic station coverage, or if we were more careful, we could have caught those early events.’

    Scientists who have been studying the area say that while the fracking does not create the problem from scratch, it does exacerbate the problem by increasing the damage to an existing faultline.

    Youngstown is near the Marcellus Shale, which is an underground storage of rich natural resources but by injecting water and sand at the area at high speeds, it causes problems with the area’s instability.

    The Ohio earthquakes were felt well beyond state lines, even reaching so far as Pennsylvania.
    Even though the drilling operations have been suspended at Northstar Disposal Services LLC- the plant in Ohio that was closest to the epicenter of the New Year’s Eve quake- there are 177 similar injection wells across Ohio.

    State Representative Robert Hagan has scheduled a community forum on the issue for January 11 and has called for a statewide moratorium on injection drilling until 2014. The Youngstown City Council voted Wednesday to support his proposal.

    ‘People have a right to know what’s going on, what’s being done,’ Mr Hagan said.

    The problem is not limited to the midwest, though, as the process is expanding across the Eastern United States as the search for a viable energy alternative becomes more and more necessary due to American’s reliance on oil.

    ‘To the extent that our nation wants to become independent of meeting its energy needs in the coming years, the increased earthquakes are going to go along with that,’ Mr McGarr told MSNBC.
    ‘The problems are only going to grow in the future,’ he continued.