Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” has only been known to rarely cause earthquakes; however, the disposal of drilling wastewater used during this process has been scientifically linked to frequent earthquakes.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If your air or drinking water has been contaminated due to methane migration or other consequences of hydraulic fracking, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.
Millions at Risk of Man-Made Earthquakes, Study Finds
On March 28, 2016, the U.S. Geographical Survey (USGS) published an earthquake hazard map of both natural and “induced” quake sites. The map and an accompanying report show that portions of the central U.S. now face a risk of temblors equal to that of California.
About 7 million people live in places vulnerable to fracking-induced earthquakes, according to the study. States at the highest risk include Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio and Alabama. Most of the quakes attributed to fracking wastewater are relatively small, around magnitude 3, but some have been far more powerful, including a 2011 magnitude 5.6 temblor in Oklahoma that was found to be caused by wastewater injection.
It is still unknown how powerful or frequent fracking quakes could potentially be, or whether the new research will change industry practices. In Oklahoma, for example, earthquakes naturally occur at a rate of 1-2 per year, but over the last decade there have been hundreds since fracking and horizontal drilling have became widespread in the state.
“By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S.,” said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project.
The study is based on extremely recent seismic activity, only representing a 1-year hazard assessment, and scientists cautioned that what has happened in the recent past with man-made quakes will likely continue in the future.
Previous hazard maps didn’t include induced temblors. In 2014, for example, the USGS seismic hazard map showed negligible risk for natural earthquakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but with the inclusion of man-made events added to the new map, the risk increased 10-fold, according to the USGS.
The Dallas Morning News reported on an unreleased study conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which estimated that a worst-case, 5.6 magnitude earthquake hitting Dallas could damage 80,000 buildings, make levees collapse and cause nearly $10 billion in economic losses.
Do I Need a Fracking Lawyer?
The Workplace and Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in fracking lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently investigating potential settlements in all 50 states.
Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one has been the victim of water or air contamination caused by fracking, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.