The Hampton Roads Daily Press reports,
Scientists say there is no link between a controversial natural gas drilling technique and the Virginia earthquake that rattled the East Coast in August.
“Let’s be very clear: fracking did not cause the Virginia earthquake,” said Christopher “Chuck” Bailey, professor and chairman of the geology department at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg…
The nearest active Marcellus wells to the quake’s epicenter in Mineral — about 45 miles northwest of Richmond — are roughly 100 miles away in West Virginia. Bailey and other scientists said those wells could not have induced the 5.8 magnitude temblor.
“It’s impossible,” said David Spears, a geologist with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. “The kinds of pressure required to cause something like that can’t be transmitted over those distances from fracking.”
The power surge from a typical gas frack is small even compared to minor quakes, Spears said. Additionally, there are several fault lines separating West Virginia and Mineral that would prevent the spread of underground tremors, he said…
None of the eight disposal wells in southwestern Virginia accept out-of-state fracking fluid, said Rick Cooper, acting chief of the gas and oil division of the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.
While better known for coal production, the region has produced gas since 1931. Some is obtained from fracking but the technique is different from what’s happening in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Cooper said.
Drillers fracking in Virginia rely mostly on nitrogen — not water — to force gas to the surface, he said. There is some wastewater, but significantly less than what comes out of a typical Marcellus well, he said.
Virginia drillers are allowed to pump wastewater into disposal wells, Cooper said, but there is no evidence that it has led to an increase in seismic activity. Also, he said it could not have migrated to the fault that caused the Mineral quake…