Monday, January 2, 2012

Fracking; more oil, but also earthquakes?

"Ohio has suspended operations at five deep-well hazardous fluid disposal sites after a series of 11 earthquakes in the Youngstown, Ohio, in the past year, including one on Saturday with a magnitude of 4.0, officials said. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Sunday it was halting operations at five Mahoning County wells owned by Northstar Disposal Services LLC as a precaution, citing concerns of a possible link between well activity and the quakes."

"The biggest earthquake ever recorded in Oklahoma struck on November 5, a magnitude 5.6 temblor that buckled a highway and ruptured water pipes. This quake is part of a skyrocketing rise in seismic activity the state has seen in the past three years, leading many to wonder—and worry—about its cause. Might the practice of fracking, a controversial method of fracturing rock to help get at fossil fuels, be to blame?"

"Nine quakes in eight months in a seismically inactive area is unusual. But Ohio seismologists found another surprise when they plotted the quakes’ epicenters: most coincided with the location of a 9,000-foot well in an industrial lot along the Mahoning River, just down the hill from Mr. Moritz’s neighborhood and two miles from downtown Youngstown.
At the well, a local company has been disposing of brine and other liquids from natural gas wells across the border in Pennsylvania — millions of gallons of waste from the process called hydraulic fracturing that is used to unlock the gas from shale rock."

Ok, looks suspicious. Here in the Black Hills a company wants to use something similar to fracking to get uranium from underground.  The locals fear that this process will infiltrate underground aquifers and destroy their water supply.

Fracking is forcing open fissures deep underground, lubricating and holding open the new fissures.  Many places where this relatively new process has been used, there have been earthquakes.  In England a company there admitted that their fracking was causing earthquakes.  Most articles I've read, however, seem to indicate that cause-and-affect have not been totally proven yet.

Contaminating aquifers hasn't been proven yet either, as the dispute about Pavillion Wyoming shows.  However, once contamination happens, it's almost impossible to clean up.  So it's definitely worth investigating what exactly fracking causes.  I believe we need clean water and stable ground more than we need oil and gas.

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