Fracking and Earthquakes

Fracking and Earthquakes


If oil companies are not performing hydraulic fracking in your area, you’re probably not concerned about the extreme environmental dangers produced by the process. If you live in Poland Township, Ohio, you know about another side effect of fracking; earthquakes. In March 2014 this small town experienced 77 seismic incidents. The people of Poland Township had never experienced an earthquake previously. When the fracking process was ceased, so were the earthquakes.

Hydraulic fracking is the process of extracting natural gas from shale deep under the earth’s surface. Thousands of gallons of water mixed with sand and approximately 60 chemicals are inserted under extremely high pressure to force the gas from the shale and bring it to the surface. The government and the petroleum companies claim that the chemicals are not harmful. Independent testing has reached the opposite conclusion; many of them are harmful and contain carcinogens. In addition, underground drinking water sources are contaminated.

Another city has reported multiple earthquakes directly attributable to fracking. Irving Texas has been shaken by 11 in the last two days; 26 overall since the operation began.

Irving has more than 2000 bore holes where chemicals have been forced thousands of feet under the surface. These chemicals continue to lubricate fault lines after the operation is completed. The water near these wells has become undrinkable. The last seismic occurrence measured 3.6 on the Richter scale; the largest recorded in the area since records were kept.

After the natural gas is extracted, it must be transported to market sites. This has created additional danger to rural areas.

Huge pipelines have been constructed to transport the gas from the site to storage facilities and ‘transmission lines.’ While transmission lines are inspected and controlled by the federal government, the ‘gathering lines’ are not because they travel through rural areas. A single break in the pipe, or an explosion caused by corrosion and heat sources could cause devastation to hundreds of square miles.

One family in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, regrets giving permission to an oil company to construct a ‘gathering line’ across their property. The plans presented to them featured a stainless steel, low pressure pipeline, which would be constructed far from their home. They signed a binding contract.

When the actual construction began, they pipe was nearly twice as large, under higher pressure, and was rerouted close to the family home.

There are more than 240,000 miles of gathering lines in the United States. Horizontal drilling and fracking have increased production and forced the construction which is continuing to grow at an alarming rate.

The Republican controlled Congress is willing to give the petroleum industry anything it wants. This week the Senate will vote to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Although it is a serious danger to the environment, and will be of little benefit to our nation, they state that they will pass the bill onto the President’s desk. President Obama has promised to veto the legislation, and it is doubtful the Republicans have the votes in Congress to overturn his decision.

By James Turnage



NBC News

The Daily Beast

Photo courtesy of Daniel Foster – Flickr License