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Ohio Links Fracking to Earthquakes

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Columbus, OHMany people who live near hydraulic fracking sites already have concerns about the risk of groundwater and surface water contamination. They worry about whether there is a risk to their health when fracking chemicals make their way into nearby water. Now, they may also have legitimate concerns about the risk that fracking causes earthquakes.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has announced it will require drilling companies to comply with increased regulations because of the possible link between fracking near fault lines and earthquakes. Among the additional regulations, according to The Columbus Dispatch (4/14/13), are the use of seismic monitors if the fracking occurs within three miles of a known fault line or at the site of a previous earthquake and the shutting down of any well site if the state determines a link between a fracking site and an earthquake.

According to WGRZ (4/13/14), Ohio officials say there may have been a “probable” link between fracking and five small earthquakes in Youngstown in March. Part of the reason for the concern has been the increase in tremors in Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch article notes that between 1950 and 2009 there were an average of two earthquakes a year of a magnitude greater than 2.0 in Ohio. From 2010 to 2014, the same period in which fracking became more common, that number increased to nine.

Meanwhile, a judge in Ohio has ruled that a fracking lawsuit can continue. The Columbus Dispatch (4/10/14) reports that two people filed a lawsuit to prevent fracking around Seneca Lake, near Columbus. The judge found that the plaintiffs, Leatra Harper and Steven Janstro, proved they “have suffered and are threatened with direct and concrete injury” to their health as well as their property value.

The defendants had argued that the alleged injuries were hypothetical but the judge rejected that argument.

The lawsuit was filed against the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Antero Resources.

In Texas, a lawsuit was reportedly filed against a fracking company alleging a family became sick because of fracking wells near their home. KFOR (4/11/14) reports that Robert and Lisa Parr filed a lawsuit alleging they could not drink their well water and suffered difficulty breathing, nausea and rashes thanks to fracking around their home. According to the report, the family was tested for neurotoxins and found they had chemicals in their system that matched chemicals used in fracking. Lawsuits were filed against nine companies, some of which have already settled.

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