Pennsylvania Regulator links earthquakes directly to fracking

DEP links Lawrence County earthquakes to fracking by Laura Legere, February 16, 2017, Post Gazette

A series of small earthquakes in Lawrence County last year appear to have been linked to fracking operations at nearby Utica Shale wells, Pennsylvania regulators said today.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced the conclusion in an advisory for an online event it plans to hold tomorrow to disclose details of its findings.

The series of low-magnitude earthquakes on April 25, 2016, in North Beaver, Union and Mahoning townships “had a marked temporal/spatial relationship to natural gas hydraulic fracturing activities by Hilcorp Energy Co.,” the department concluded after what it said was an extensive review involving the agency and outside scientific and industry partners.

… DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell; Seth Pelepko, chief of the Division of Well Plugging and Subsurface Activities in the DEP Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management; and bureau geologist Harry Wise will discuss the findings and formulation of procedures to reduce seismic risk going forward.


… A Hilcorp spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Observers have acknowledged since the first days following the small earthquakes that the depth, time and location of Hilcorp’s fracking operations at its North Beaver, NC Development well pad suggested a link with the series of seismic events, but state officials had not broadly announced public conclusions about the events until now.

Researchers have linked fracking to earthquakes in several sites in eastern Ohio not far from the Lawrence County quakes, as well as in England, Canada and Oklahoma, but cases of recorded or felt earthquakes directly tied to fracking have been rare.

The Lawrence County earthquakes are the first known incidents of fracking-linked quakes in Pennsylvania. [Emphasis added]

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