August 25, 2016 — The EPA believes there is a “significant possibility” that North Texas earthquake activity is associated with wastewater disposal wells from fracking, according to The Texas Tribune.
The 61-page report (PDF) recommends “close monitoring” of wastewater disposal well activity with daily reporting of pressure and volumes.
The EPA sent the report to the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates all oil and gas drilling in the state and continues to deny any link between “fracking” and recent earthquakes.
The EPA is very concerned about a spike in seismic activity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the last two years, specifically the risk of contaminating underground sources of drinking water.
Last year, there were 21 earthquakes of 3.0-magnitude or greater in Texas. One was a 4.0-magnitude quake south of Dallas on May 7 — the largest ever recorded in North Texas. The surge has coincided with the proliferation of disposal wells in the Barnett Shale region.
Oil and gas drilling does not create enough pressure to cause earthquakes. However, it produces millions of gallons of toxic wastewater, which is injected under high pressure into disposal wells.
Experts have known for decades that fracking wells can trigger earthquakes, especially large ones near critically stressed faults.
Out of 162 magnitude-3.0 earthquakes in Texas between 1975 and 2015, researchers at the University of Texas warn 25% were “almost certainly” caused by oil and gas activities, and another 33% were “probably” induced.
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