Youngstown Earthquake Update

John Armbruster, a seismologist from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, NY is one of the researchers investigating a string of 11 earthquakes near Youngstown, OH, the most recent of which occurred on New Year’s Eve in the afternoon. Armbruster says a local injection well, which injects wastewater from shale gas drilling under high pressure deep into the ground, is “almost certainly” the cause of the earthquakes.

As MDN pointed out yesterday, injection wells are not fracked gas wells (see this MDN story). But some politicians keep trying to tie the two together. A spokesman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Rob Nichols, does a great job in pointing out the difference:

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-Youngstown, yesterday renewed his call for a moratorium on fracking and brine disposal in injection wells to allow a review of safety issues.

“If it’s safe, I want to do it,” he said in a telephone interview. “If it’s not, I don’t want to be part and parcel to destruction of the environment and the fake promise of jobs.”

A spokesman for Gov. John Kasich, an advocate of the growing oil and natural-gas industry in Ohio, said the shale industry shouldn’t be punished for a fracking byproduct.

“That would be the equivalent of shutting down the auto industry because a scrap-tire dump caught fire somewhere,” Rob Nichols said.

He said 177 deep-injection wells have operated without incident in Ohio for decades, and the Youngstown well was closed within 24 hours of a study detailing how close the Christmas Eve quake was to the well.*

*The Columbus Dispatch/AP (Jan 3, 2012) – Brine well caused quakes, expert says