By Miriam Raftery
March 16, 2014 (California)--A new report reveals that the risk of earthquakes in California is being dramatically increased by oil companies injecting billions of gallons of wastewater from fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, into disposal wells near active faults near major cities. “Millions of Californians live in areas at risk for induced earthquakes,” the report concludes.
The report, titled “On Shaky Ground,” was prepared by Earthworks, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Clean Water Action. It found that 54% of our state’s 1,553 injection wells are within 10 miles of a recently active fault, 23% are within five miles and 6% are within just one mile.
Numerous earthquakes across the country have been linked to fracking by scientists, including temblors as high as 5.7 on the Richter scale, the report details. Fracking quakes are common in areas such as Oklahoma and Texas, producing quakes higher than ever seen in some places.
The study further finds that no studies to date have evaluated the increased risk of induced earthquakes from fracking in California.
Equally disturbing, regulations do not protect Californians from the risk of these induced quakes.
Moreover, disposal of fracking wastewater by the oil industry also poses other risks including contamination of water supplies, wildlife habitat and agricultural areas.
There is no fracking in San Diego County and currently no injection of fracking wastewater, though such disposal does occur in neighboring Orange County. The highest risk cities in the state for induced quakes includes Los Angeles, one of our state’s most populous regions.
The situation will get worse, the report warns, if fracking of the Monterey shale offshore moves forward, producing almost 9 trillion gallons of wastewater to extract the shale oil.
The study’s authors conclude that the only way to protect Californians from potentially damaging quakes caused by fracking wastewater disposal is to ban fracking, since the state has failed to impose regulations to protect the health and safety of residents or the environment.