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Youngstown Fracking Disposal Well Eyed in Swarm of Earthquakes

Jan 3, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

More earthquakes, this time near Youngstown, Ohio, have been blamed on a fracking-related operation.  According to various media reports, 11 earthquakes have occurred since March 2011 near a Youngstown fracking wastewater injection well.  The latest, a 4.0 magnitude tremblor was felt Saturday as far away as Toronto, Canada and Morgantown, West Virginia.

The Youngstown injection well, owned by D&L Energy Group, is used to dispose of millions of gallons of brine and other waste liquids produced at natural-gas wells being fracked in Pennsylvania.  According to a report from The New York Times, the well reaches a depth about 9,200 feet.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources first asked that injections at the well be halted on December 30, following a 2.7 magnitude Christmas Eve tremblor that occurred less than 2,000 feet below the well.  A moratorium was imposed on injections there after the latest New Years Eve quake.  A Depth estimate on that quake should be available this week.

Scientists who have been studying the Youngstown quakes seem fairly certain that the fracking injection well is to blame.

“In our minds, we were already pretty convinced that these events were connected to the well,” John Armbruster, a seismologist with Columbia University's Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, told the Times.  “Having that many earthquakes fairly close to a well in Ohio, where there aren’t a lot of earthquakes, was suspicious.”

He also warned that the tremblors will likely continue, despite the moratorium on injections.

“This one year of pumping is a pulse that has been pushed into the ground, and it's going to be spreading out for at least a year," he told the New York Daily News.

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