Canadian Province Investigating Possible Fracking Links to Recent Earthquakes

A regulator in British Columbia, Canada, is set to study a possible link between <"">hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes. According to the Calgary Herald, the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission is concerned that a recent upsurge in earthquake activity in the extreme northeastern corner of the province could be the result of fracking.

Since 2009, British Columbia’s Horn River Basin – an area of active natural gas activity – has experienced 32 earthquakes, ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 in magnitude. Prior to 2009, the area had no recorded earthquake activity, the Calgary Herald said. Three of those quakes occurred as fracking was underway.

The Oil and Gas Commission said it has not identified a direct link between hydraulic fracturing and the seismic activity. The Commisson will work with the Pacific Geoscience Centre, which monitors seismic activity, as part of the study, but didn’t release many details beyond that, the Calgary Herald said.

John Clague, a geologist at Simon Fraser University, told the Calgary Herald that he believes the earthquakes are the result of hydraulic fracturing, either due to fracking itself, or because of the high pressure injection of fracking waste water into underground reservoirs.

British Columbia’s Horn River Basin is just one natural gas area where an upsurge in quake activity has people worried about fracking. Earlier this year, we reported that a similar occurrence in Arkansas had prompted the closure of several underground waste disposal sites for fracking wastewater. At the time, it was reported that 90 percent of the earthquakes recorded in Arkansas since 2009 have occurred within six kilometers of salt water disposal sites associated with fracking operations.

Other states have reported similar problems. Last year, Chesapeake Energy and environmental officials in West Virginia were trying to determine if a spike in seismic activity in Braxton County was associated with an injection well located in the town of Frametown. In 2009, the disposal of fracking wastewater was also named a possible suspect in a series of earthquakes that plagued North Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, prompting Chesapeake to close two nearby disposal wells “as a precautionary measure.” Recent earthquakes in Colorado have also raised questions about fracking that is occurring there.

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