DEP Concludes Hilcorp Drilling Caused Minor Earthquakes in W PA

In April of last year (2016), MDN brought you the story of earthquakes so minor nobody could feel them in Lawrence County, PA were likely caused by fracking (see PA DEP Investigates Hilcorp Fracking in Earthquake Nobody Felt). However, seismic monitoring equipment could detect them. We have to stress that earthquakes caused by fracking is rare–like this is one of five instances we’re aware of. Far more common are earthquakes caused by deep injection wells. But fracking itself? Statistically zero percent of the time earthquakes are caused by fracking. So when it happens, it’s noteworthy. The conditions must be just right–fracking immediately overtop a fault in the rock layers. The driller in this case, Hilcorp, was ordered to stop all fracking and drilling activity at the well site, which they did. The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) says they have concluded their investigation and will today (on a webinar) disclose their results. Here’s the kicker: the DEP could have avoided this. Two years earlier the same driller, Hilcorp, caused minor earthquakes seven miles away–just across the border in Ohio. At that time Ohio officials stopped Hilcorp from drilling in that region. A week after the Ohio earthquakes that stopped Hilcorp, the PA DEP issued permits to drill in the same area (see Hilcorp Awarded Permits to Drill 7 New Wells Near Earthquake Zone). MDN was the only source to make that observation. We waved our little red flag and said maybe it’s not such a wise decision to grant those permits. Someone at the DEP needs to read MDN! At any rate, below is the news, as much of it as we currently know. By the time you read this, the DEP earthquake webinar will be over, but we’ve included the webinar notice as (so far) it’s the only information we have to indicate the DEP now concludes Hilcorp drilling was at fault for the earthquakes in Lawrence County…

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