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Monday, July 15, 2013

Industry Seeks to Set Record Straight on Disposal Wells, Fracking, and Earthquakes

From Energy in Depth:
Last week, new research was published in Science that examined the relationship between seismic activity and wastewater disposal wells. We’ve covered this issue before, so suffice it to say that this is not “news” per se, but there were some critical details worth highlighting.
Data to Further Reduce Risk
The researchers discovered that earthquakes in different parts of the world can actually trigger seismic activity near injection wells – activity that, according to the studies, was going to occur anyway, but the geologic vibrations from the large quakes accelerated the process. Another key finding is that many of the seismic events near disposal wells are preceded by significantly smaller seismic events, which can serve as a geological warning system of sorts.
These are important findings, for reasons that should be obvious: Only a handful of injection wells are actually associated with felt seismic events, meaning these are incredibly rare. The EPA, which regulates wastewater disposal under its Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, says injection wells are a “safe and inexpensive option” for disposing of industrial waste. But if we have data that will facilitate even better management of risk – i.e. being able to adjust flow ratesbefore a bigger seismic event occurs – then that’s good news.
Read more by clicking here. 

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