State set to release findings on local quakes
By Karl Henkel
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says it plans to release its report on the Youngstown earthquakes within weeks.
Carlo LoParo, communications director at ODNR, said the department is reviewing reforms it plans to implement after the release of the report. The report is undergoing peer review this week.
“The report will include a series of recommendations intended to bolster the Class II deep-injection-well program,” LoParo said. “This set of new regulations will place Ohio among the most-carefully monitored deep-injection-well programs in the country.”
LoParo did not disclose any potential reforms but said some will be implemented immediately as conditions of permitting, while others will require changes to the state administrative code.
The report, which compiled information from ODNR’s Division of Mineral Resources Management, Division of Geological Survey and the Ohio Seismic Network, will detail the supposed cause of 12 earthquakes with epicenters in Youngstown since March 17, 2011.
ODNR began compiling reports after a magnitude-4.0 earthquake struck Dec. 31, and earlier it had planned to release information at the beginning of this month.
Since that time, the department has implemented temporary restrictions on injection wells.
No well that has been drilled or will be drilled to depths of the Precambrian bedrock formation can function until the report’s results have been released.
There also is the possibility that ODNR could require those wells, which include a handful in the Mahoning Valley, to back-plug the well out of Precambrian.
ODNR had planned to make D&L Energy Inc., operators of the injection well on Ohio Works Drive, back-plug the well. But that never happened before the well was shut down Dec. 30.
ODNR also put a halt on any new injection-well permits until the report’s release.
Both of those temporary restrictions will be addressed in the ODNR report.
Some, like John Armbruster, a seismologist from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, already have concluded that brine injected into the Precambrian formation caused an undiscovered fault to slip, triggering the earthquakes.
Columbia was the entity that dispatched four portable seismographs to Youngstown at the request of ODNR that helped to pinpoint earthquake depths.
D&L Energy has maintained that no definitive correlation has been pinpointed to the injection well and the earthquakes. The company still plans to move forward with its own $1 million third-party study.