Ohio: Gas-drilling injection well led to quakes

“Almost certainly.”

The Associated Press reports:

A dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were almost certainly induced by injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth, Ohio oil and gas regulators said Friday as they announced a series of tough new regulations for drillers.

Among the new regulations: Well operators must submit more comprehensive geological data when requesting a drill site, and the chemical makeup of all drilling wastewater must be tracked electronically.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced the tough new brine injection regulations because of the report’s findings on the well in Youngstown, which it said were based on “a number of coincidental circumstances.”

For one, investigators said, the well began operations just three months ahead of the first quake.

They also noted that the seismic activity was clustered around the well bore, and reported that a fault has since been identified in the Precambrian basement rock where water was being injected.
“Geologists believe it is very difficult for all conditions to be met to induce seismic events,” the report states. “In fact, all the evidence indicates that properly located … injection wells will not cause earthquakes.”

Northeastern Ohio and large parts of adjacent states sit atop the Marcellus Shale geological formation, which contains vast reserves of natural gas that energy companies are rushing to drill using a process known as hydraulic fracturing.

That process involves freeing the gas by injecting water into the earth, but that water needs to be disposed of when companies are done with it. Municipal water treatment plants aren’t designed to remove some of the contaminants found in the wastewater, including radioactive elements. A common practice is to re-inject it into the ground, a practice banned in some states.

The improper placement of the Youngstown well stemmed in part from inadequate geological data being available to regulators, the report states. New rules would require a complete roll of geophysical logs to be submitted to the state.

“These logs were not available to inform regulators of the possible issues in geologic formations prior to well operation,” the document says.

Requiring well operators to submit more comprehensive geologic data is just one of the added regulations the department will either impose immediately or pursue through legislative or rule changes.

Among other changes:

— Future injection into Precambrian rock will be banned, and existing wells penetrating the formation will be plugged.
— State-of-the-art pressure and volume monitoring will be required, including automatic shut-off systems.
— Electronic tracking systems will be required that identify the makeup of all drilling wastewater fluids entering the state.

“Ohio has developed a new set of regulatory standards that positions the state as a national leader in safe and environmentally responsible brine disposal,” Natural Resources Director James Zehringer said in a prepared statement.

“Ohioans demand smart environmental safeguards that protect our environment and promote public health. These new standards accomplish that goal,” he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave Ohio regulatory authority over its deep well injection program in 1983, deeming that its state regulations met or exceeded federal standards. The new regulations would be added to those existing rules.

Read the Ohio report.

14 thoughts on “Ohio: Gas-drilling injection well led to quakes”

  1. Saying fracking could cause an earthquake is like saying my blowing into the air could cause a tornado. The orders of magnitude difference in total energy expended is about the same.

  2. Geologists believe it is very difficult for all conditions to be met to induce seismic events…
    add to that the fact that these Midwest faults will not generate Richter 8 events or anything like it, and it’s just another tempest in a tea cup meant to strangle the baby in its crib.

  3. Yes, Imo, small quakes are what has taken the pressure off, PREVENTING a HUGE quake that could be so devastating to California. Some quake-people were saying that NONE of the quakes were greater than 4.0, so they are tremblers, imo, without damage. If they never exceeded 4.0, they might as well not be mentioned, except the GREEN-Meanie-weenies are desperate to stop an idea whose time has come, and may be the ONLY way to EVER pay-off our creditors. This is HOW STUPID…the Greens are. If there’s no fracking, we won’t be able to defend ourselves with no money, –no revenue, so we will be conquered, trading Eco-Nazis for a 21st-century “Nazi”. Then the “Nazis” will frack & frack, getting the gas FOR FREE, and not worrying about any earth-qwakes, unless some workers escape during the tremors. The “useful idiot” Eco-Nazis will then see: –Our country gone, our lands raped, our wives raped, our children killed/brainwashed,–all because some Eco-JERK thought he could lock-up the wealth that G-d has given us, for Green(–Russian communist, imo) LIES!

  4. So these nuts are “almost certain” about a number of coincidental circumstances and their seismic effects. Do these clowns get paid for coming up with this nonsense? They’d earn a good living writing for the Sci-Fi Channel.

  5. Seismologists used to say that earthquakes cannot be predicted. Now that they can rely on “coincidental circumstances”, it’s time for more research funding!

  6. How big are these earthquakes? Just because they can be detected does not mean they are dangerous.

  7. Deep well injection existed long before hydraulic fracturing was even on the radar. We’ve been injecting hazardous waste since the 50’s. Funny how it never caused quakes until now.

  8. “— Future injection into Precambrian rock will be banned, and existing wells penetrating the formation will be plugged.”

    This seems to imply that Cryptozoic rock cannot yield hydrocarbons — meaning fossil fuel really IS dead organic material modified over time, under heat and pressure. I did not know that the theory of abiotic oil generation was disproved. At best, I’ve seen “mostly” disproved. But “mostly” leaves a lot of room for error, much like global warmists claims that anthropogenic CO2 is “mostly” responsible for global warming. It seems like Ohio just removed a potential source of revenue for their state for no good reason.

  9. Isn’t being able to trigger an earthquake a good thing? Couldn’t we, by triggering regular small quakes, eliminate the big ones?

  10. You don’t have to “worry” about “brine disposal” if LNG-fracking is used. LNG starts-out as a liquid which is super-cooled. but after doing its hydraulic-thing, it heats-up(reaches room temperature), morphing into a gas, which is then used among the shale-gas collections. LNG-fracking means NO contamination, NO brine, NO brine collection/removal. LNG-fracks hydraulically, but the “hydraulic-fluid (LNG)” once finished as a hydraulic-“wedge” heats-up and dissipates, joining the shale-gas on its way up. LNG(liquified gas) + hydraulic fracking = NOTHING but more shale gas, as the LNG goes to gas from its liquid-state. It’s like using poisonous Isopropal-anhydrous alcohol to mix-up various recipes for pills for human oral ingestion. Once the mixed product is placed inside drying rooms, ALL of the Isopropal-anhydrous EVAPORATES, so the DRY pill-mix is SAFE, and un-poisoned. Got it? Wet, a pill-sized portion could kill/make you sick. Dry, a pill-sized portion would “work” like a dose a doctor prescribed,like a pill,–as it should, –no problem.

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