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Northeast Ohio quakes caused by disposal wells officials say
Disposal well drilled on top of unmapped fault, now the state could have new rules for future wells

Bill Cohen

Ohio natural resources officials say there are strong indications that 11 small earthquakes in Northeast Ohio were indeed caused by a deep well, used to dispose of brine waste-water from oil and gas drilling elsewhere. Officials are now proposing new rules on future disposal wells. Statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen files this report.

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The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is confirming what most everyone suspected - the earthquakes around Youngstown are linked to the brine disposal well there.

Ohio energy regulators say injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth almost certainly a series of small earthquakes as they announced a series of tough new regulations for drillers.

Among the regulations to be imposed: Well operators must submit more comprehensive geological data when requesting a drill site.

Also, the chemical makeup of all drilling wastewater must be tracked electronically.

The state Department of Natural Resources on Friday announced the tough new brine injection regulations because of the report's findings on the well in Youngstown.

A dozen earthquakes shook northeast Ohio from March 2011 through New Year's Eve. The largest was magnitude 4.0.

In December, an earthquake in the Youngstown area caused the state to shut down a well that’s been taking in millions of gallons of fluid left over from fracking.

The area had experienced a series of small earthquakes since the well started operating about a year ago. 

At the time, Natural Resources Director James Zehringer said no one can prove conclusively that the seismic activity is linked to the well, but the ODNR decided to be cautious.

In a statement, Zehringer had said the state’s top priority is the public’s health and protection of natural resources, and he is not willing to gamble with safety.
The area had no recorded earthquakes until Northstar Disposal Services of Youngstown started operating the well.

After the tremors began, the state installed four seismometers to monitor the area.  

Ohio has nearly 200 similar wells operating around the state. They’re taking in hydraulic fracking fluid used in Ohio and other states to break open shale and release natural gas and oil. Fracking is expected to dramatically increase in Ohio in the next two years.
Listener Comments:

Ohio seems so open to this old-new teck. Fracking not new,but at millions of gallons per well, not the 100 thousand gallons of 1930's. What's in the fluid? Methylbenzine, at least, a known carcinigen. Texas followed the nation with falling cancer rates--except in the fracking areas. I read 5.6 million gallons is average per well-can you confirm? And i've read the wells are fracked 10-12 times-can you confirm? so many sources out there, each with an axe to grind.

Posted by: leland pettis (stark cty) on July 1, 2012 3:07AM
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