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Study Shows Fracking Unleashes Quakes and Pollution


how fracking causes earthquakes

Scientists studying three big, far away earthquakes in Japan, Chile, and Indonesia, have found that many months later, those earthquakes set off smaller ones in the U.S. where fracking wastewater had been injected into wells underground, according to a study published this week in the journal Science. (See our previous coverage. )

Experts say the fracking waste fluids in these wells make it easier for an underground fault to slip and slide, causing a quake, as shown in the animation above from Mother Jones.

The study links increased tremors from November 2011 in Prague, Oklahoma, which has a number of injection wells nearby, to a big quake in Chile on February 27, 2010. The study also found that big quakes in Japan and Indonesia triggered quakes in areas of western Texas in September 2011 and southern Colorado in August where there were many injection wells.

In New York State, environmental groups have questioned whether there has been adequate tracking of the wastewater from low-level fracking operations. Last year, Environmental Advocates of New York published a study showing that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) failed to “responsibly monitor” wastewater disposal from existing gas wells. The group supported a bill that would set new wastewater monitoring standards for the industry.

The DEC website lists several wastewater wells used by the oil and gas industries. They are located in upstate counties, not Westchester, and there are no reports on the DEC website of earthquakes or unusual seismic activity near these New York sites.

However, for mothers and children in particular, the toxic substances in fracking wastewater can pose serious health risks documented by the Center for Environmental Health in a June 2013 report.  The report provides details on what you can do to protect your family’s drinking water from potentially hazardous wastewater from fracking.

Graphic reprinted by permission of Mother Jones. Click here to view the original article.
Leanne  Kroll;  Animation: Brett Brownell

Joyce Newman
Joyce Newman
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.
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