Fracking Caused Arkansas Earthquakes, Lawsuit ClaimsMay 23, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
An Arkansas class action lawsuit alleges that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, led to earthquakes in the state that have damaged residents of Faulkner and surrounding counties. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Sam Lane, a resident of Faulkner County and head of "Stop Arkansas Fracking."
Earthquakes are a possible fracking side effect most people likely don't think about. According to a report from Newsinferno.com, injecting the salt water produced by fracking is a common method of disposal among natural gas drillers. But that saltwater can lubricate the rocks, leading to movement - and earthquakes.
Recently, Arkansas has recorded an increase in earthquakes, and even had the largest tremor recorded in the state in 30 years. Most of the earthquakes - 90 percent of - seen in the state since 2009 have occurred within six kilometers of salt water disposal sites associated with fracking operations. Steve Horton, an earthquake specialist at the University of Memphis and hydrologic technician with the U.S. Geological Survey, told Fox News the coincidence is too big to ignore, Newsinferno said.
Arkansas isn't alone in this phenomenon. According to Newsinferno, fracking had been named a suspect in a series of minor earthquakes that occurred in West Virginia’s Braxton County. In 2009, the disposal of fracking wastewater was also named a possible suspect in a series of earthquakes that plagued North Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
According to the Arkansas lawsuit, the injection wells near Greenbrier and Guy that have caused the Arkansas earthquakes resulted in damages to residences in Faulkner (Conway, Van Buren, Cleburne, Perry and White counties. As a result, residents have incurred the loss of fair market value in real estate, emotional distress, and damages related to the purchase of earthquake insurance, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit seeks millions of dollars for those affected, as well as injunctive relief to ensure the two injection wells operated by Defendants that were shut down in March by Arkansas regulators do not begin operating again. It also seeks to stop other injection wells that are contributing to the unprecedented numbers of earthquakes suffered in the State of Arkansas.
The class action complaint, which was filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court, names BHP Billiton Petroleum entities, Chesapeake Operating, Inc., and Clarita Operating, LLC as defendants.