Around 800 recent earthquakes in central Arkansas, including Monday’s 4.7 tremor, and a unanimous vote by the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission (AOGC), has led to a temporary suspension of injection well operations by two natural gas companies.
Chesapeake Energy, based in Oklahoma City, OK, and Clarita Operating of Little Rock, AR, have agreed to suspend injection well drilling operations in the central Arkansas area near Greenbrier and Guy due to an abnormally high rate of earthquakes occurring during the last six months.
The tremors are believed to be linked to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a highly controversial method of injecting pressurized drilling waste water into the ground. The AOGC believes there is a likely link to the method and ordered a halt to it until its next regular meeting on March 29, Huffington Post reports.
The water used in fracking contains sand and often, toxic chemicals. Millions of gallons of water are injected into the earth, helping to break up shale and rock formations, thereby releasing the natural gas trapped inside. It has been associated with tainting aquifers and wells, and of late, rivers and streams. As a result, adverse health effects in humans and animals are believed linked to the tainted water.
A local landowner, Linda Winfrey, told ozarksfirst.com: “I’m just so stressed with the whole thing, it’s just been an ordeal for everyone,” according to the Daily Mail.
Chesapeake and Clarita plan to fight any attempts at permanent actions by the AOGC that would halt their fracking operations.
“We do not agree with the conclusions. We believe there is a lot of natural seismicity in this area and there’s a lot more data, facts and science that need to be brought to bear. And we look forward to a more thorough evaluation of all of that,” a Chesapeake spokesman said, the Daily Mail reports.
The Arkansas Geological Survey has recently identified two possibilities for the unusually high number of tremors in the area. Scott Ausbrooks, geohazards supervisor at AGS, said the earth quakes are now considered the Guy earthquake swarm.
“It could just be a naturally occurring swarm like the Enola swarm, or it could be related to ongoing natural gas exploration in the area,” Ausbrooks said last month, according to Huffington Post.