Frackers Are Setting off Swarms of Earthquakes Across the Planet

Frackers Are Setting off Swarms of Earthquakes Across the Planet | Alternet.


The locals call it “incoming,” and some compare the violence of the tremors to living in a war zone.

Others say it’s like having their homes hit by a truck.

The scene is north Texas, home to the Barnett Shale, the largest unconventional gas field in the United States.

There, industry, often touted as the new engine of the U.S. economy, has punctured and fractured the landscape with 17,000 gas wells, as well as thousands of disposal sites to get rid of related toxic waste fluids. 

It’s in north Texas where the unconventional gas industry, together with what it calls the “safe and proven” practice of hydraulic fracturing, has been making unconventional, earth-shattering headlines.

In the last three months, the community of Azle, located just northwest of Fort Worth, has suffered a swarm of earthquakes — more than 30 — that has cracked the foundations of the houses, frightened local residents, created sinkholes and raised concerns about property values.

Five quakes in January alone ranged from a magnitude of 2.3 to 3.1. “We’re sitting there, and 11:40, it rumbled right on through the house,” Azle resident Tracy Strickland  told KERA news, a public broadcaster in north Texas earlier this month.

“It feels like a truck hits the back of the house, and the whole house just shakes. So, it’s something.”

In many respects the Texas tremors, along with significant earthquakes in Groningen, Holland, offer a glimpse of the geological challenges that will accompany massive drilling activity in northern British Columbia to support the provincial government’s scheme to export unconventional gas to Asia.

After an angry town hall meeting in early January, the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, vowed to hire an earthquake specialist to study the phenomenon. It initially denied any connection between tremors and oil and gas activity.

“No disrespect, but this isn’t rocket science here,” Lynda Stokes, the mayor of Reno, Texas (a community near Azle) recently told officials at a 300-strong protest in the state capitol, Austin. “Common sense tells you the wells are playing a big role in all this.”

Quaking and fracking

So, too, does the science.

A string of studies, including one by British Columbia’s Oil and Gas Commission, have not only implicated hydraulic fracturing but the related practice of pumping dirty wastewater deep underground as the cause of unprecedented swarms of earthquakes in Ohio, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, B.C. and even Alberta.

recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found that the rate of earthquakes greater than a magnitude of three has steadily increased in the U.S. Heartland since 2001, the beginning of the shale gas boom, “culminating in a six-fold increase over 20th century levels in 2011.”

“While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production,” concluded the study.  

Studies in England, Oklahoma and B.C. have pointedly implicated hydraulic fracturing as earthquake triggers too.

A 2011 fracking operation in the Bowland Shale near Blackpool, England set off 50 minor earthquakes.

In B.C. the industry, which uses three times more water and often at higher pressures than other shale gas formations, set off more than 200 quakes in the Horn River Basin between April 2009 and Dec. 2011.

At least 19 of the quakes ranged between a magnitude of two and three, and one reached a magnitude of 3.8, an event that surprised most scientists.

Full article:

Frackers Are Setting off Swarms of Earthquakes Across the Planet | Alternet.

‘Fracking like oil and gas development on steroids, too risky to continue’ (6:01)

▶ ‘Fracking like oil & gas development on steroids, too risky to continue’ – YouTube.

RT News

Saturday is Global Frackdown Day – an international protest uniting activists worldwide, demanding a ban on shale gas drilling. ‘Fracktivists’, as they’re known, want their authorities to hear the truth about the risks of the technology. Demonstrations in Canada turned violent on Thursday with police using pepper spray and plastic bullets while trying to remove a blockade. 40 protesters were arrested, some of them threw molotov cocktails and set several police cars on fire.

Fracking produces annual toxic waste water enough to flood Washington DC

Fracking produces annual toxic waste water enough to flood Washington DC | Environment |

Growing concerns over radiation risks as report finds widespread environmental damage on an unimaginable scale in the US

Fracking waste water  in Wyoming : toxic waste

Waste water evaporation pits from gas drilling and fracking in Pinedale area in Wyoming. Photograph: Ted Wood/Corbis

Fracking in America generated 280bn US gallons of toxic waste water last year – enough to flood all of Washington DC beneath a 22ft deep toxic lagoon, a new report out on Thursday found.

The report from campaign group Environment America said America’s transformation into an energy superpower was exacting growing costs on the environment.

“Our analysis shows that damage from fracking is widespread and occurs on a scale unimagined just a few years ago,” the report, Fracking by the Numbers, said.

The full extent of the damage posed by fracking to air and water quality had yet to emerge, the report said.

But it concluded: “Even the limited data that are currently available, however, paint an increasingly clear picture of the damage that fracking has done to our environment and health.”

A number of recent studies have highlighted the negative consequences of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which have unlocked vast reservoirs of oil and natural gas from rock formations.

There have been instances of contaminated wells and streams, as well as evidence of methane releases along the production chain.

The Environment America report highlights another growing area of concern – the safe disposal of the billions of gallons of waste water that are returned to the surface along with oil and gas when walls are fracked.

The authors said they relied on data from industry and state environmental regulators to compile their report.

More than 80,000 wells have been drilled or permitted in 17 states since 2005.

It can take 2m to 9m gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals to frack a single well. The report said the drilling industry had used 250bn gallons of fresh water since 2005. Much of that returns to the surface, however, along with naturally occurring radium and bromides, and concerns are growing about those effects on the environment.

A study published this week by researchers at Duke University found new evidence of radiation risks from drilling waste water. The researchers said sediment samples collected downstream from a treatment plant in western Pennsylvania showed radium concentrations 200 times above normal.

The Environment America study said waste water pits have been known to fail, such as in New Mexico where there were more than 420 instances of contamination, and that treatment plants were not entirely effective.

“Fracking waste-water discharged at treatment plants can cause a different problem for drinking water: when bromide in the wastewater mixes with chlorine (often used at drinking water treatment plants), it produces trihalomethanes, chemicals that cause cancer and increase the risk of reproductive or developmental health problems,” the report said.

Other consequences of fracking highlighted in the report included: 450,000 tons of air pollution a year and 100m metric tons of global warming pollution since 2005.

Fracking causes earthquakes, studies confirm

Fracking causes earthquakes, studies confirm – Technology & Science – CBC News.

Apr 17, 2012 

A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Geological Survey is set to release findings Wednesday that a " data-mce-src=A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Geological Survey is set to release findings Wednesday that a “remarkable” increase of quakes in the U.S. midcontinent since 2001 is “almost certainly” the result of oil and gas production. (Reuters)

Two separate studies are providing insights into the earth-shaking consequences of the controversial gas extraction process known as fracking.

Both studies confirm that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can trigger manmade earthquakes. The process involves blasting water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to fracture rock to obtain oil and natural gas.

Energy companies are increasingly using the technique across Canada, where there is already regular seismic activity and an ever looming threat of various sized tremors.

The U.S. Geological Survey is set to release its findings Wednesday that a “remarkable” increase of quakes in the U.S. midcontinent since 2001 is “almost certainly” the result of oil and gas production.

U.K. experts, meanwhile, point to a study released Monday that found recent earthquakes in northwest England were caused by fluid injection into a nearby fault zone as evidence fracking can be safe when conducted by responsible operators.

The consultants’ report, commissioned by the U.K. government and published on Tuesday recommends that fracking should be halted temporarily if there is a tremor greater than magnitude 0.5 on the Richter scale. Cuadrilla Resources, a company that halted its fracking activities in northwestern England following tremors of magnitudes 2.3 and 1.5 in April and May last year, has said that is acceptable.

Opposition to fracking has ramped up since the release of the 2010 documentary “Gasland,” which shows residents of small town Colorado setting alight tap water they charge was soured by nearby oil industry activity.