Study suggests not all earthquakes are being reported

Fracking protest in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – There continues to be many local, state and national studies about earthquakes and whether tremors are triggered by an increase in oil and gas drilling, and injection of industry waste, into the ground.

The public already knows that increased earthquakes in and around Youngstown the past few years have been linked to injection well, or fracking, activity at a handful of different sites. But on Tuesday, more evidence from a different part of the state shows the actual number of earthquakes might be far more than what is reported to the public.

“We have had a lot more earthquakes up here than people know about,” Younsgtown State University geology professor Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer said.

Beiersdorfer said research shows there were more than 60 earthquakes this spring near a well site in Poland Township. And there were more than 566 quakes in Youngstown, but the Ohio Department of Natural Resources only reports a small fraction of them.

“In fact, there were at least 10 in 2013 and there was one in the start of this year, so they are continuing,” Beiersdorfer said.

The state shut down D & L Energy’s Northstar injection well after the 4.0 earthquake on Dec. 31, 2011. Beiersdorfer said the permit application shows this well should have been plugged and abandoned after 60 days of in-operation.

“It has now been over 1,000 days and they are still keeping that well open, for reasons I do not understand, so that well is still triggering earthquakes, and it really needs to be plugged and abandoned,” Beiersdorfer said.

A new report to be published next month suggests fracking triggered 400 tremors in Harrison County, between Oct. 1 and Dec. 13, 2013.

An ODNR spokesperson said they continue to analyze seismic data as it relates to oil and gas activity, and they continue to take steps to ensure public health and safety is protected. But Beiersdorfer is not buying it.

“There were, again, over 10 earthquakes in Youngstown that ODNR knew about, due to those seismometers, and they also chose not to make those public,” Beiersdorfer said.

Earthquakes registering less than a 2.0 magnitude are typically not reported. An Ohio Oil & Gas Association spokesman said more than 1 million tremors of similar magnitude happen naturally around the world every year.

In May, ODNR representatives were installing seismometers in Trumbull County. Seismic monitoring networks are going in all over eastern Ohio to monitor activity near any current or future production or injection well sites.

But there’s no way to predict, or forewarn the public, as to where an earthquake might happen, or how strong it will be.

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