Earthquake in Wayne National Forest is Within Ohio’s Fracking Region

by Duane Nichols on April 8, 2017

Wayne National Forest in Ohio Valley

Ohio investigates cause of weekend earthquake in drilling region

From an Article by Marion Renault, The Columbus Dispatch, April 4, 2017

State officials are investigating whether a magnitude 3.0 earthquake in the Wayne National Forest was caused by nearby oil and gas operations. It wouldn’t be the first time: Hundreds of temblors have been linked to drilling operations and injection wells in Ohio and other states.

The Ohio quake occurred about 8 a.m. Sunday near Graysville in Monroe County in the national forest’s Marietta Unit. Activity at nearby wells was halted within an hour after the quake, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, whose seismologists are investigating the quake’s potential sources.

According to the state, eight permitted Utica shale well sites are within 5 miles of the epicenter of Sunday’s earthquake, which is about 120 miles southeast of Columbus; the quake was not related to Monroe County’s sole, inactive injection well.

Fracking involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to fracture rock formations and release trapped oil and gas. The wastewater that comes up with the oil and gas can be reused, but disposal eventually is necessary. Frequently, that wastewater is injected deep underground.

“Review of the seismic data placed the event … in proximity to ongoing oil- and gas-well completion operations,” Department of Natural Resources spokesman Steve Irwin said in an email. “The division continues to evaluate seismic data and completion operations in the area.”

It’s too soon to connect regional hydraulic fracturing with Sunday’s quake, said Miami University seismologist Mike Brudzinski. “I think it’s natural to think of this as a potential relationship. The next step is trying to do the science to make sure that’s true,” he said.

Brudzinski said Ohio typically experiences earthquakes of this magnitude a couple of times a year. Still, he noted that the state’s southeastern region is not one with a long history of seismic activity.

That region is slated for more fracking activity. Since December, federal officials have auctioned the oil and gas leasing rights for more than 1,800 acres of the Wayne National Forest’s Marietta Unit for eventual fracking.

“The reason this (earthquake) is generating more attention is the location,” Brudzinski said. “People are concerned about this as an indication of a risk involved with hydraulic fracturing.”

To that end, environmentalists are calling on federal officials to withdraw plans for fracking in Ohio’s only national forest.  “We know this has occurred in Ohio and across the country before,” said Jen Miller, director of Sierra Club Ohio. “I think it (raises) the question of, ‘Why are we doing more of this?’”

In 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey released results of its first widespread examination of possible links between earthquakes and the oil and gas industry. It reported that oil and gas drilling and wastewater-injection wells spurred hundreds of earthquakes in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas as well as Ohio.

Since 2014, after earthquakes connected with oil and gas industry activity affected parts of eastern and northeastern Ohio, the state has required operators of any fracked well within 3 miles of a known fault or in areas prone to seismic activity to install seismic monitors. Operators of injection wells that take fracking wastewater and operate in areas where earthquakes have happened also are required to monitor for quakes.

A team of Miami University researchers published a study in 2015 that linked nearly 80 quakes in Mahoning County to nearby oil and gas operations. Another team of researchers published a report in 2014 arguing that fracking triggered hundreds of small earthquakes on a previously unmapped fault in Harrison County in 2013.

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Wayne Forest April 8, 2017 at 11:26 am

3.0-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Wayne National Forest, Fracking Operations Temporarily Halted

By Eric Sandy, Cleveland Scene, April 5, 2017

The eyes of the seismological and environmental worlds have focused on Wayne National Forest this week, the sight of a 3.0-magnitude earthquake on Sunday. For now, fracking operations in the forest have stopped.

The earthquake’s epicenter was not within any of the forest’s recently leased parcels, but it was located in and near parcels that have been requested for future lease opportunities by private drilling companies. (See the map in original article.)

Within 20 miles of the epicenter, four wastewater injection wells thrust high-pressure fracking wastewater into the ground. In 2016, those wells injected 350 million gallons of fracking wastewater — most coming from out of state. Multiple fracking sites are set up within five miles of the Sunday earthquakes’s epicenter.

In all, some 40,000 acres of the forest have been earmarked for private natural gas drilling — some of which was formerly federal land sold off by the Federal Bureau of Land Management.

“This earthquake is a clear example of the risks involved in fracking,” said Melanie Houston, the director of the Ohio Environmental Council’s oil and gas team, in a public statement this week.

Highly fracked eastern Ohio counties, like the Wayne’s Monroe County, are increasingly affected by earthquakes — in alarming contrast to the rest of the state. FracTracker maps seismological data, and the correlation is hard to ignore.

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Athens News April 12, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Bids on Wayne National Forest drilling leases total $5.2 Million

From an Article by Sara Welch, Shale Gas Reporter, April 6, 2017

The rat race is on to acquire drilling rights in Wayne National Forest. As it stands, bids total $5.2 million for leases to explore and drill for oil and natural gas on 1,180 acres in Monroe County, Ohio, according to The Athens News.

The bids were submitted via an online auction conducted by the United States Bureau of Land Management. The auction marks the second round, as an earlier one took place in December to disperses leases on 719 acres of the forest. A third auction is scheduled for June 22.

The companies that secured leases in the first two rounds of auctions will still have to submit site-specific drilling applications to the BLM and U.S. Forest Service before they will have full approval to drill.

Learn more: The Athens News > Oil and gas lease auction for Wayne nets $5M in bids


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