On New Year's Eve a 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck at a depth of approximately 2 miles. As a result, Ohio's Department of Natural Resources suspended operations at five deep well sites in Youngstown, Ohio, where high pressure water injection was taking place. The wells will remain closed while they evaluate the seismological data.
According to a report by Reuters, Won-Young Kim, a research professor of Seismology Geology and Tectonophysics at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, who has been hired by the state to review the data, believes that the there is circumstantial evidence to suggest a link "between the earthquake and the high-pressure well activity."
"We know the depth (of the quake on Saturday) is two miles and that is different from a natural earthquake," said Kim. Reportedly, data collected in November from 4 seismographs in the area confirm that an association between the water pressure at the well and the quakes. Kim also said that this is not the first time tremors related to human activity have been reported in that state. "We have several examples of earthquakes from deep well disposal in the past," Kim said.
Hydraulic fracturing has also drawn flack from environmentalists and people living near drilling operations who allege that their well water has subsequently become contaminated and made people sick, and it has also been linked to cancer.
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In 2009, almost 500,000 natural-gas wells were active in the US, about double the number from 1990. According to the drilling industry, around 90 percent have used hydrofracking to get more gas flowing. Five confirmed states (possibly more), Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, have found gas seeping into underground drinking-water supplies and residents have blamed natural-gas drilling.