Read

Search form

"Houses Are Bouncing" In Oklahoma As Fracktivity Triggers Record Earthquakes

"Houses Are Bouncing" In Oklahoma As Fracktivity Triggers Record Earthquakes
Wed, 8/13/2014 - by Carey Gillam
This article originally appeared on Reuters

In the last week alone, residents of Guthrie, pop. 10,191, have felt five quakes rock the town a half hour's drive from Oklahoma City.

The most recent rippled through Friday after lunchtime, duly recorded on the "QuakeWatch" application many residents have loaded onto their smartphones. The local newspaper runs a weekly column updating details of the latest quakes.

"It feels like the earth is opening up and you are falling," said one resident, Boxley. "It's scary."

Since January, Oklahoma has had 292 earthquakes that register a magnitude 3.0 or larger, more than any other state in the continental United States. That's nearly triple the 109 last year. Through 2008, Oklahoma averaged less than two a year.

The unprecedented earthquake activity has put Oklahoma in the center of an emerging debate over whether the disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production triggers earthquakes. It has prompted enactment of broad new rules that go into effect Sept. 12.

"The houses are bouncing. It is frightening," said Matt Skinner, spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporations Commission, which regulates oil and gas work in Oklahoma. Skinner's home itself has suffered quake damage.

Oklahoma's economy relies heavily on oil and gas. Seventy of Oklahoma's 77 counties produce crude oil and gas, and 4,500 disposal wells around the state handle the industry's wastewater. Scientific studies have shown wastewater activity may cause quakes when occurring near geologic faults.

Regulators say they do not know if disposal wells, which can reach thousands of feet underground, are to blame for the sharp rise in earthquake activity. As a precaution, they are scrambling to scrutinize every well, and even shutting some down.

"We are looking at these wells and going over them with a fine-tooth comb... looking for anything that might trigger seismicity," Skinner said. "We can't leave anything to chance because something is happening here that no one understands."

The rules taking effect next month require well operators to make daily reports on volume and pressure of wastewater injection instead of monthly reports, as previously required.

Many wells must have seismic monitoring equipment, and testing of certain large disposal wells now must take place annually, instead of every five years. Regulators also can require testing of any well, large or small, at any given time.

Regulators are deploying inspectors to wells and monitoring whether pressure and volumes of wastewater injections are within regulatory limits. So far this year, regulators temporarily shut down at least 10 wells. One remains closed.

"If a well has a minor infraction or anomaly, it is no longer minor. They are shut in until they are fixed," said Skinner.

While the state increases scrutiny, action in the courts already has begun. On Aug. 4, a woman from Prague, Oklahoma, sued New Dominion LLC and Spess Oil Co., blaming them for injuries she suffered when a fireplace in her home broke apart in a series of earthquakes magnitude 5.0 and larger that struck Prague in November 2011.

A spokesperson for Spess declined comment on the lawsuit, and New Dominion did not respond to interview requests.

The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association said they are working with regulators and researchers to gather and analyze data, and are not ready to say what they believe is causing the earthquake increase.

"We remain committed to finding answers based on sound science," said OKOGA President Chad Warmington. As part of the probe, the Oklahoma Geological Survey is cross-referencing quake data with well data and installing seismic monitoring equipment around the state.

Guthrie and nearby communities are top hot spots because they have seen a concentration of seismic activity.

The quake that hit Friday registered 3.2 magnitude and rattled the 188-bed county jail in Guthrie. The jail also was hit in February, said Logan County Deputy Richard Stephens.

"It felt like a bus hit the station," he said.

Originally published by Reuters

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Twenty states, backed by Donald Trump’s Department of Justice, are trying in the courts to dismantle the law by attacking what they see as its Achilles heel: the individual mandate.

occupy, creative activism, activism, act out e165

A backlog that's symptomatic of a patriarchal system that not only devalues women but devalues survivors of sexual assault.

E.U. trade, U.S. trade war, aluminium tariffs, steel tariffs

“These tariffs aren’t even legal under U.S. law, let alone World Trade Organization laws. It seems rather odd to be citing national security and targeting countries including your closest allies.”

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, public financing, financing infrastructure, Wall Street influence, private-public investments

Private interests’ influence over banking consumes, rather than sustains, the public good.

Dodd-Frank act, Volcker Rule, bank deregulation, Wall Street lobby, proprietary trading, SEC

By revising the Volcker Rule, a centerpiece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank act, the feds are pushing financial regulation in a direction that should worry everyone.

The Associated Press reports that young migrant children forcibly separated from their parents are being sent to facilities that critics described as "prisons for babies." (Photo: @NIJC/Twitter)

Those who have visited the facilites describe "play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis."

Twenty states, backed by Donald Trump’s Department of Justice, are trying in the courts to dismantle the law by attacking what they see as its Achilles heel: the individual mandate.

wage theft, corporate crimes, CEO pay,

An eye-opening new report has documented billions of dollars of corporate theft from workers. The government is turning a blind eye.

occupy, creative activism, activism, act out e165

A backlog that's symptomatic of a patriarchal system that not only devalues women but devalues survivors of sexual assault.

E.U. trade, U.S. trade war, aluminium tariffs, steel tariffs

“These tariffs aren’t even legal under U.S. law, let alone World Trade Organization laws. It seems rather odd to be citing national security and targeting countries including your closest allies.”

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, public financing, financing infrastructure, Wall Street influence, private-public investments

Private interests’ influence over banking consumes, rather than sustains, the public good.

Posted 3 days 6 hours ago
U.S. Border Patrol agents take into custody a father and son from Honduras near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, near Mission, Texas. The asylum seekers were then sent to a processing center for possible separation. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

A new report confirms that Trump and his advisers had been considering the brutal policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border for as long as they’ve been in power.

Posted 3 days 7 hours ago
E.U. trade, U.S. trade war, aluminium tariffs, steel tariffs

“These tariffs aren’t even legal under U.S. law, let alone World Trade Organization laws. It seems rather odd to be citing national security and targeting countries including your closest allies.”

Posted 2 days 2 hours ago
Democratic primaries, rigged primaries, Bernie Sanders, establishment Democrats, corporate Democrats, superdelegates, Democratic National Committee

If Democrats want any hope of voting Trump out, they must fix the broken primary system before the next election.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago
family separations, ICE, immigrant deportations,

The size and brutality of this particular raid in Ohio, along with the use of military tactics, have shocked even the most seasoned immigrants’ rights activists.

Posted 2 days 7 hours ago
E.U. trade, U.S. trade war, aluminium tariffs, steel tariffs

“These tariffs aren’t even legal under U.S. law, let alone World Trade Organization laws. It seems rather odd to be citing national security and targeting countries including your closest allies.”

U.S. Border Patrol agents take into custody a father and son from Honduras near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, near Mission, Texas. The asylum seekers were then sent to a processing center for possible separation. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

A new report confirms that Trump and his advisers had been considering the brutal policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border for as long as they’ve been in power.

public banking, public banks, Bank of North Dakota, public financing, financing infrastructure, Wall Street influence, private-public investments

Private interests’ influence over banking consumes, rather than sustains, the public good.

occupy, creative activism, activism, act out e165

A backlog that's symptomatic of a patriarchal system that not only devalues women but devalues survivors of sexual assault.

family separations, ICE, immigrant deportations,

The size and brutality of this particular raid in Ohio, along with the use of military tactics, have shocked even the most seasoned immigrants’ rights activists.