Injection Wells May Trigger Earthquakes in Areas not Prone to Tremblers

Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports
Injection Wells May Trigger Earthquakes in Areas not Prone to Tremblers

Injecting hazardous waste into 4,500 foot deep wells had been one way of removing nearly 100 million gallons a year into 172 wells across the United States, according to a July/August 1994, Downriver Digest report by Melissa Marra.

But Oklahoma had a 5.6 magnitude quake Sunday , including aftershocks which buckled a highway and collapsed a St. Gregory’s University administration tower in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  The trembler hit as fans left the Oklahoma State/Kansas State football contest.

Seismic activity has increased in both Arkansas and Oklahoma. Scientists state they are puzzled. Residents point to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in which natural gas companies break apart shale and rock through injection well to release natural gas. 

However, 181 injection wells exist in the Oklahoma country where the quake struck.

A seismologist told, “it’s a mystery. There’s no reason to think that earthquakes would be caused by anything other than natural shifts in the earth’s crust,” stated Austin Holland of the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Youngstown, Ohio , had not been the epicenter of a quake until after they allowed D & L Energy, Inc. to bore a well 9,000 feet below the earth’s crust.  Brine water, which is a byproduct of oil drilling and natural gas fracking have been blamed.

The quakes started ten months after the well went into operation. Six of the seven epicenters have been located near the well.

Pennsylvania has already halted deep-well injections.

Actually, back in January 1986 , a 4.9 magnitude quake struck in Cleveland, Ohio near the Perry Nuclear Power Plant.  Two years later two Ohio University geologists published a much citied Geological Society of America article linking deep well injection to quakes.

And, clean up of radioactive materials at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant and the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant has included fracturing technologies with both pneumatic and hydraulic methods.  The Department of Energy’s subsurface science program.

Chemical Contaminants on DOE Lands and Selection of Contaminant Mixtures for Subsurface Science Research , a DOE document published in April 1992, explained that some nuclear wastes are stored in tanks at DOE facilities or in retrievable form ( i.e. transuranic waste) under the ground, but most waste has been disposed to the ground surface, ponds, cribs, basins, pits, injection well and landfills.

The article did not point to earthquakes but stated: “Subsurface contamination is also the result ofleaks from process sewer lines, fuel and hazardous waste underground storage tanks, and breached drums of buried chemicals and wastes. In the early days of DOE operations, environmental disposal was common and was believed to have limited long-term implications.”

Injections at plants, such as Piketon, have been used to degrade chlorinated compounds such as TCE, into non-toxic compounds such as ethane and ethane. The Hydrogen Release Compound slowly reacts with the the TCE (trichloroethene plume) to prevent spread of the radioactive chemical deposited following construction of a 1,077 foot long subsurface bentonite barrier wall to prevent the contaminated ground water from traveling off-site.

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