The US Federal Gov Knew: 50 Years of Fracking Induced Earthquakes

13th December 2011

By Rady Ananda –  Food Freedom

Washington’s Blog posted some info last August confirming that the US federal government has long known of the link between fracking and earthquakes, as well as the link between deep well fluids contaminating shallow drinking wells. As more info keeps coming out, this collection should serve as a handy resource for those confronting (or occupying) well sites or state regulatory agencies.

At a recent oil & gas conference, frackers urged colleagues to engage in psyops to con Americans into accepting carcinogenic drinking water and earthquakes as the price to pay for oil and gas. The Oil & Gas Accountability Project taped the speakers and turned it over to CNBC which posted the audio.

Business Insider recently posted 10 Counterinsurgency And ‘Psy-Ops’ Tactics Companies Use Against Protesters, based on the recommended Army’s counterinsurgency manual.

In Fracking May Have Caused 50 Earthquakes in Oklahoma, Brian Merchant writes:

In a surprising turn of events, Cuadrilla Resources, a British energy company, recently admitted that its hydraulic fracturing operations “likely” caused an earthquake in England….

Right on the heels of Cuadrilla’s announcement, news is spreading that the United States Geological Survey has released a report (pdf) that links a series of earthquakes in Oklahoma last January to a fracking operation underway there….

The U.S.G.S. determined that “from the character of the seismic recordings indicate that they are both shallow and unique.”

From the report:

Our analysis showed that shortly after hydraulic fracturing began small earthquakes started occurring, and more than 50 were identified, of which 43 were large enough to be located. Most of these earthquakes occurred within a 24 hour period after hydraulic fracturing operations had ceased. There have been previous cases where seismologists have suggested a link between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes, but data was limited, so drawing a definitive conclusion was not possible for these cases.

The report is still under peer-review, and even then, the correlation between fracking and the quakes is inconclusive. The U.S.G.S. notes that region has historically been seismically active, though the summary states that the “strong correlation in time and space as well as a reasonable fit to a physical model suggest that there is a possibility these earthquakes were induced by hydraulic fracturing.”

While Merchant tiptoes around the issue, it’s clear to many that fracking is more than correlated; it’s causative.

The US Geological Survey confirms that “the link between fracking fluid injection and the earlier series of earthquakes was established” in 1990 at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal by Craig Nicholson and R.I. Wesson in “Earthquake Hazard Associated with Deep Well Injection” (1990).

In 2001, the EPA also confirmed the link between deep injection fluids and toxic contamination of shallow water wells near Boulder, Colorado. (See Underground Injection Control Regulations 2001.)

Fracking in the New Madrid Fault zone has generated hundreds of earthquakes each year, far exceeding the previous annual earthquake history prior to the advent of mass drilling. (See Fracking the life out of Arkansas and beyond.)

On Jan. 31, 1986, I stood in my office on the 13th floor in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, when we experienced a 30-second earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter Scale.  The quake rumbled 11 states and Ontario, Canada.   Researchers Nicholson and Wesson questioned if the quake was induced by fracking, writing in 1988:

“ Three deep waste disposal wells are currently operating within 15 km of the epicentral region and have been responsible for the injection of nearly 1.2 billion liters of fluid at pressures reaching 112 bars above ambient at a nominal depth of 1.8 km. Estimates of stress inferred from commercial hydrofracturing measurements suggest that the state of stress in northeastern Ohio is close to the theoretical threshold for failure along favorably oriented, preexisting fractures.”

Daneen Peterson collected the following videos and reports:

Fracking Hell: The Untold Story (17:53)
This video is an original investigative report by Earth Focus and UK’s Ecologist Film Unit looks at the risks of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale deposits. It covers the introduction of toxic chemicals that end up in the drinking water, the unregulated interstate dumping of radioactive waste and that the wells leak radioactive radium.

The following video reveals that a “Halliburton loophole [in a] 2005 energy bill completely exempted natural gas industry and gas fracking from any regulation under the Safe Water Act.” That fact is PROOF, like the vaccine exemptions given, that “they” know full well that what they are doing is extremely harmful.

“If that ONE ‘loophole’ were eliminated,” notes Peterson, “the OVERWHELMING revelations would KILL ALL FUTURE FRACKING!”

60 Minutes Video Piece on Dangers of Natural Gas Fracking

Pittsburgh’s drinking water is radioactive, thanks to fracking. Only question is, how much? Grist

Residents of Pittsburgh — as well as potentially tens of millions of other everyday citizens in the Northeast corridor who rely on their taps to deliver safe water — are consuming unknown and potentially dangerous amounts of radium in every glass of water. That’s the buried lede in the Sunday New York Times massive exposé on fracking, the relatively new process for extracting natural gas from the massive shale formation that stretches from Virginia to New York state.

Even frackers admit that the Marcellus Shale formation “is mildly radioactive since it contains a small amount of uranium and produces gamma radiation from decaying organic matter.” But, of course, it denies that any “significant amount of this radioactivity is released in the natural gas produced from the shale.”

Gasland‘s reach and Oscar nomination brought enough attention to the issue to warrant apparent censorship of industry concessions that the documentary got things right:

“We have to stop blaming documentaries and take a look in the mirror,” Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for gas producer Range Resources Corp., was quoted as saying in [The Wall Street Journal].

However, if you go to the article, you won’t find Pitzarella’s statement because within the hour the quote disappeared, say citizen journalists, who screen captured it and posted it on Twitter.

Toxic Contamination From Natural Gas Wells
This shows an interactive map of the types and areas that are contaminated in Pennsylvania.

Water Problems From Drilling Are More Frequent Than PA Officials Said

When methane began bubbling out of kitchen taps near a gas drilling site in Pennsylvania last winter, a state regulator described the problem as “an anomaly.” But at the time he made that statement to ProPublica, that same official was investigating a similar case affecting more than a dozen homes near gas wells halfway across the state.

In fact, methane related to the natural gas industry has contaminated water wells in at least seven Pennsylvania counties since 2004 and is common enough that the state hired a full-time inspector dedicated to the issue in 2006. In one case, methane was detected in water sampled over 15 square miles.

In another, a methane leak led to an explosion that killed a couple and their 17-month-old grandson.

The Tyee: Fracking and Quaking: They’re Linked

The number of mini-quakes in highly drilled Alberta alone has increased so demonstrably in recent decades (from 60 to more than 200 a decade) that the government launched a project “to document and understand their relationship to oil and gas production.” Concluded researchers in the Canadian Journal of Exploration Geophysics in 1994: “there do appear to be spatial and temporal correlations between the earthquakes and oil production in the Eagle West and Eagle fields [in Fort St. John, B.C. ]. Fluid injection in particular must be considered as a possible cause.”

Eight hundred Jerseyites occupied the War Memorial in Trenton on Nov. 21 to say “Don’t Drill the Delaware” at a rally of various constituencies and organizations opposed to gas drilling in the Delaware River Watershed.  Fifteen million people rely on the Delaware River for water, including New York City, Philadelphia and millions of residents of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Follow the ongoing work of Delaware River Keeper to protect the basin, and check out their numerous videos.

Last updated Nov. 29.

About the Author

Holding a B.S. in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University’s School of Agriculture, Rady Ananda’s  work has appeared in several online and print publications. Using years of editorial experience and web publishing, Rady now promotes the ideas and work of a select group of quality writers and artists at Food Freedom and COTO Report.

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