Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fracking Fluid Disposal Investigated As Cause of West Virginia Earthquakes

Source:Water Contamination from Shale

Could an operation related to hydraulic fracturing in West Virginia be responsible for more than half a dozen earthquakes that have hit the state’s southern Braxton County this year? According to a report from West Virginia Public Broadcasting, one state geologists says it’s possible.

This past April, Baxton County experienced a 3.4 magnitude earthquake. Since, then the area has been the site of at least six more, West Virginia Public Broadcasting said. Most were around a 2.7 magnitude – not enough to cause damage but enough for people to feel them.

State geologist and West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey Director, Michael Hohn told the network that the area is not known for seismic activity, and is generally “quiet.” So the upsurge in earthquake activity is both surprising and alarming.

According to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, a town in Braxton County called Frametown is home to holding tanks that store water used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has permitted Chesapeake Energy to use a nearby well to dispose of the drilling fluid. About ten million gallons of drilling fluid into the well since spring of 2009. Both the state and Chesapeake are trying to determine if the drilling fluid injections are releated to the recent earthquakes.

Meanwhile, the company is still using the well to dispose of water from Marcellus Natural Gas Drilling. Local wells have also not been tested to see if the earthquakes have caused the disposal well to crack or leak fluid.

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