Colorado halts fracking wastewater injections after earthquakes hit the state

AFP Photo / Getty Images / David McNew

AFP Photo / Getty Images / David McNew

Following the detection of a small earthquake, Colorado state regulators have put a halt to the disposal of fracking wastewater into an injection well located in Weld County.

According to Reuters, the announcement was made by the Colorado
Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which directed High
Sierra Water Services to observe a 20-day stoppage as a result of
the situation. A 2.6 magnitude earthquake was recorded on Monday,
and geologists believe it was linked to the ongoing fracking
operation nearby.

This earthquake marked the second time in less than one month
that an earthquake struck the area. On May 31, a 3.4 magnitude
tremor was recorded in the same area, sparking theories that High
Sierra’s oil and gas exploration was to blame.

“In light of the findings of CU’s team, we think it’s
important we review additional data, bring in additional
expertise and closely review the history of injection at this
site in order to more fully understand any potential link to
seismicity and use of this disposal well,”
COGCC Director
Matt Lepore said in a statement released to the Colorado
Independent earlier this week.

This isn’t the first time time controversial fracking process –
which involves injecting water, sand, and various chemicals into
layers of rock, in hopes of releasing oil and gas deep
underground – has been linked to earthquakes. Much of the blame
has been pinpointed on the waste disposal process, which is
comprised of storing toxic wastewater deep underground wells
often located near fault lines.

Although the US Geological Survey notes that faults are
“pervasively fractured” at depth, it states that
“the injected wastewater counteracts the frictional forces on
faults and, in effect, ‘pries them apart’, thereby facilitating
earthquake slip.”

While previous studies have suggested there is a link between
fracking and earthquakes, a COGCC spokesman told Reuters, “We
believe it is probably the first time” such a connection has been
made in Colorado, which is notorious for experiencing earthquakes
as a result of coal mining.

Already in Oklahoma – which, as RT reported in February, has already seen a
massive spike in earthquakes over the past few years –
seismologists have connected the increased earthquake activity to
fracking. Research in Texas has also concluded with similar

Speaking with Mint Press news about the recent decision in
Colorado, environmental activist Gary Wockner welcomed the

“Better safe than sorry—injecting fracking wastewater has
definitely caused earthquakes in other states and it could be the
cause here too, so it’s smart of COGCC to halt this
he said.

The move also comes as some Colorado citizens in Lafayette file a
lawsuit against the state for trying to invalidate a ban on
fracking the city imposed last year. The measure passed with the
support of 60 percent of residents, and halts new oil and
exploration operations in the area.

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