YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The investigation into Sunday’s earthquake near Niles is still ongoing, but one group says it is already clear what is behind the quake.
Youngstown State University geology professor Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer has been very vocal against fracking in the Valley and says fracking and earthquakes have direct cause and effect on each other. He said he believes Sunday’s earthquake is no different.
About a dozen people, mostly members of Frack Free Mahoning Valley, gathered inside Moser Hall on the YSU campus Wednesday night to listen to Beiersdorfer’s update on the Weathersfield incident as well as earthquakes earlier this year in Poland.
He said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was withholding information about a series of earthquakes near a Hilcorp Energy well in March.
“Here now we had all this information being held by ODNR. I am demanding full transparency,” Beiersdorfer said.
He was referring to information he and a Miami University of Ohio professor got through ODNR in a public records request. Beiersdorfer said the information proves there were five times as many earthquakes in Poland. It was originally thought there were about a dozen, but more recent information shows there were over 60.
Graphs show those earthquakes happened just above an area where fracking occurred.
He said he is concerned Sunday’s earthquake in Niles may also be connected to two injection wells near the epicenter.
“There’s a connection in space and there’s a connection in time,” Beiersdorfer said.
Ron Klingle, chairman of Avalon Holdings, the parent company of American Water Management Services, which owns the two injection wells close to Sunday’s earthquake, wouldn’t go on camera, but did say it was “a non-event. There’s no issue here that has any relevancy to public safety.”
“There is an earthquake by his wells and to dismiss it is a bit sort of cavalier and irresponsible,” he said.
ODNR said it may take weeks to determine if there is in fact a direct relation between the wells and the earthquake on Sunday. Well operations are continuing, but members of Frack Free Mahoning Valley are calling for well operations to stop until the investigation is complete.