According to research published in Science last week, hundreds of earthquakes that occurred in Oklahoma were linked to fracking wastewater wells. Oklahoma used to experience only one earthquake, at most, in a single year. Since 2008, when fracking operations began in Oklahoma, the state has hundreds.
Since January, the state of Oklahoma has experienced approximately 240 earthquakes that registered a magnitude of 3.0 or higher. Records indicate that the number of Oklahoma’s 3.0 magnitude earthquakes double that of California from 2008 to the present. Oklahoma has become the earthquake capitol of America.
A group of researchers at Cornell University and other institutions found that the large number of earthquakes was concentrated in an area containing a mere four wells. The wells, located southeast of Oklahoma City, were pumped with increased amounts of wastewater and chemicals compared to that of thousands of other wells in Oklahoma.
Fracking-induced earthquakes occur when chemical-laden wastewater is disposed into the earth’s sediment, triggering unusual and random seismic activity. The wells in the study sample were found to have collectively been pumped with 5 million barrels of wastewater a month.
“These really big wells have the biggest impacts on the system,” said Geoffrey Abers, the study’s co-author and Columbia University professor. “The earthquakes themselves seem to occur on small discrete faults. As the pressure builds up in the sedimentary formation that they are pumped into . . . They put that fault over the edge by jacking up the pose pressure.”
The biggest of the wells belonged to New Dominion LLC, and other high volume wells belonged to the now defunct Beard Oil. Beard’s president, Herb Mee, is denying his company any responsibility of the drastic surge in earthquakes.
“We’ve got earthquakes every day, but they are much worse now than they were then,” said Mee. “We don’t have any operations. If they were trying to pin anything on us, they are barking up the wrong tree.”
Other companies are trying to shirk any responsibility to the phenomenon also. New Dominion’s spokesman, Jack Money, said the report was “irresponsible” and based on “false assumptions.”
The question that many can draw from this is whether or not fracking is worth the environmental and health risks associated. No, it’s not. Fracking operations are damaging the environment and causing the planet to react in unnatural ways that otherwise wouldn’t happen.