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Seismic devices to watch D&L well

Published: Wed, December 7, 2011 @ 12:05 a.m.




By Karl Henkel



The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says there are new seismographs near a brine injection well in Youngstown that will help to determine if the well is causing minor earthquakes.

Andy Ware, a deputy director at ODNR, told The Vindicator the state environmental regulator has entrusted the Lamont- Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University to set up the seismographs in the Mahoning Valley.

The Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network was the organization that first reported a magnitude 2.1 earthquake Nov. 25, which had an epicenter just a few blocks from a D&L Energy Inc. brine injection well.

Brine is a byproduct of fracking, a process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted into rocks thousands of feet below the ground to unlock natural oil and gas.

“ODNR is very closely monitoring and will continue to monitor the seismic events in the Youngstown well area,” Ware said. “This equipment will be able to provide us with immediate reporting and accurate analysis of an event’s epicenter.”

Lamont-Doherty has set up four “valuable” seismograph devices on private land in quadrants surrounding the well, Ware said.

The locations of the seismographs are not being disclosed.

The area now has five seismographs; the fifth, part of the Ohio Seismic Network, is at Youngstown State University.

The technology will be used to determine with accuracy an earthquake’s depth, should there be another temblor.

Seismologists say earthquake depth can be determined by a seismograph, but multiple stations are needed to pinpoint precise depths.

The Nov. 25 earthquake was the eighth with an epicenter in Mahoning County; all have occurred this year, after a magnitude 2.6 earthquake March 17.

Seven of those earthquakes had epicenters near the D&L well, on Ohio Works Drive on the city’s West Side.

It’s depth, like the seven other Valley quakes this year, is estimated about 7,500 feet below the bottom of the D&L well.

Injection wells have been known to cause earthquakes in some instances, such as in Colorado’s Rangely Oil Fields in the 1960s, geologists have said.

Pressure increases at the D&L Youngstown site have preceded some of the earthquakes, according to ODNR documents acquired by The Vindicator.

The well can inject brine at a maximum of 2,500 pounds per square inch.

D&L did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ware said ODNR also has increased the number of inspections and unannounced inspections at injection well sites.

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-60th, who has previously called for a moratorium on all drilling-related activity, said the addition of the seismographs are a “great first start.”

“Do we have more to do? Yes,” Hagan told The Vindicator. “We will continue to get out to the people of this Valley all the information that will be needed to make sure we are drilling and injecting in a safe and reliable way.”


1mizlynell(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I know this is an important new industry for our struggling economy, but there are so many fracking related issues I don't see being addressed in Youngstown, earthquakes being just one of them.

U.S. Government Confirms Link Between Earthquakes and Hydraulic Fracturing

On 5 November an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois.

Until two years ago Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year, but in 2010, 1,047 quakes shook the state.


In Lincoln County, where most of this past weekend's seismic incidents were centered, there are 181 injection wells, according to Matt Skinner, an official from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the agency which oversees oil and gas production in the state.

Cause and effect?

The practice of injecting water into deep rock formations causes earthquakes, both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded.

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2CompMan(162 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I would anticipate the Mahoning commissioners will include earthquake insurance for Oak Hill in the new budget. Maybe special event insurance if we have 10 quakes by the end of the year the employees at Oak Hill get a paid day vacation.

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3lumper(301 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

hagan's looking for a handout. and so the site is monitored and earthquakes happen ,then what ?

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4Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

If Hagan gave a hoot about clean water he would be on the forefront of having the Kish Landfill dug up and removed .

Natural gas is clean energy . Hydrofracturing has been used in its extraction for decades .

Extra taxation on the gas extracted is the goal . Job scarcity can be traced to the high energy costs brought about by the no drill policy . Will extra taxation help ?

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5Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

OK after reading all the well thought out comments by the most knowledgeable people in the valley . Stan the man is the one with all the know how . GO STAN

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6walter_sobchak(2713 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Since an earthquake is the release of stored up, or potential energy, in the earth's crust, the injection drilling would not be the cause of the seismic activity but it may be the trigger for the release of energy. As for the job creation, it seems to me that there are quite a few vehicles parked in the old lots along Rte 422 in Girard for the tradesmen working in the V&M Star tube mill. Since the mill is going to make, and finish, small diameter pipe for use in the drilling industry, I think it is safe to say that some jobs are coming out of the increased drilling activity. But, the real bonanza in the Utica shale formation is the wet gas that can be refined into numerous components, i.e. methane, butane, propane, ethane. This could spawn a resurgence of the chemical industry.

As for the environmental issues, the main concern with the drilling is the drilling site work and handling of the flowback from the fracking wells. If inspectors are watchful from the ODNR, there will be minimal risk. This shouldn't be a problem withthe major players but wildcat drillers could be an issue. Since the geologists indicate that the safest disposal method is deep-well injection, have at it. However, if an above-ground treatment process can be shown to be effective, this should also be explored.

While I have serious doubts about the quantity of permanent jobs that will be created, there will definitely be a good number. It is a very exciting time for our area, in spite of Buckwheat's comments!

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