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Fracking Waste Water Blamed For Texas Earthquakes

May 12th, 2015

A study by the U.S. Geological Survey has found a correlation between fracking waste water injection wells and more than 30 small earthquakes in the Dallas area since January. The study also found that the area surrounding the Barnett Shale, an area of heavy fracking activity in North Texas, has recorded more than 130 minor quakes since 2008. Fracking waste water wells were also cited as a possible cause of quake this past Saturday near Farmers Branch that measured 2.7 on the Richter scale.

Fracking Waste Water Injection Process

The process of hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as “fracking,” involves the injection of a mixture of water, sand, abrasives and chemical compounds into underground shale deposits. These deposits can contain reserves of crude oil and natural gas. The high pressure injection of fracking fluids breaks up the shale and allows drillers to reach the oil and natural gas deposits. The process also leaves fracking waste water, which drillers typically inject back into the empty wells.

Fracking Waste Water Injection Tied to Quakes

When the fracking waste water disposal process is not carried out properly, the combination of loose shale and high-pressure fluids can lead to instability around the bedrock. Several scientific studies have tied this combination to a large number of earthquakes in regions that had no previous history of seismic activity. The USGS recently published a study tying fracking waste water wells with a large number of earthquakes in neighboring Oklahoma.

Fracking Waste Water “Most Likely” Responsible for Tremors

A team of researchers from Southern Methodist University in Dallas studied a pattern of earthquakes that struck the North Texas towns of Azle and Reno in 2013 and 2014. The researchers found that fracking waste water disposal wells were the “most likely” cause of these quakes. Heather DeShon, the lead researcher on the SMU fracking waste water project, wrote in her report that “it is unlikely that…tectonic stresses” led to the increase in earthquakes.

Fracking Waste Water Quakes Damage Dallas-Area Homes

For Dallas-area residents, the relationship between fracking waste water wells and earthquakes is more than a scholarly pursuit. Jim Wells, a homeowner in the tony Dallas suburb of Las Colinas, told CNN that the quakes “shake the entire house.” He also said that, if the fracking waste water quakes continue, there would “be damage to the brick facades” and “damage to the sheet rock.” He voiced his worries about living in fear of a potential strong quake. “Are the quakes going to get stronger? Are they going to become more frequent? We just don’t know.”

Source: CNN

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