New research published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America found that fracking was responsible for a 3.0 magnitude earthquake felt in Ohio nearly a year ago. The study found that the mode of natural gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, activated a fault in the earth that led to a total of 77 earthquakes from March 4-12, 2014. The largest of these registered at a 3.0 magnitude. The drilling was being done by Hilcorp Energy, which has stopped operations in the area, following the largest earthquake.
The Marcellus Shale region is an area of gas-rich underground rock formation that extends from New York to Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio. From 1776 to 2010, no earthquakes had been recorded in Ohio, but the area has seen a large increase in seismic activity since hydraulic fracking began there. The first quake was detected in December 2010, just 13 days after drilling operations began. From then until August 2013, 109 earthquakes were recorded around Youngstown, Ohio. In October 2014, the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America published a study identifying 400 earthquakes in Ohio that were caused by fracking during a three month period in 2013. Another state, Oklahoma, has seen a five-fold increase in earthquakes in 2014 as the oil and gas industries now employ a sixth of the state’s population. Oklahoma was the most seismically active state in the mainland United States last year, registering 564 earthquakes greater than 3.0 magnitude.
Anti-fracking campaigners have often cited earthquakes as one of the harms caused by drilling. When Governor Andrew Cuomo banned fracking in the state of New York, he cited earthquakes as one of the risks of the process, along with water and air pollution. Some families have filed fracking lawsuits against companies, such as Chevron, for the diminished quality of life, injury caused by vibrations, and the overall nuisance caused by hydraulic fracking near their homes.
The new earthquake findings, along with previous studies of groundwater contamination and air pollution, provide further evidence that the regulation and oversight has not kept up with this rapidly growing industry, putting workers’ and residents’ health at risk. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to hydraulic fracturing, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free consultation.