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article imageEPA orders 17 fracking wells shut down in Oklahoma

By Karen Graham     Sep 7, 2016 in Environment
The Environmental Protection Agency shut down 17 wastewater wells in the Osage Nation of northeastern Oklahoma on Tuesday following the 5.6 magnitude earthquake that shook Oklahoma and nearby states on September 3, 2016.
Because the 17 wells are located on tribal lands, the Oklahoma State Corporation Commission has no jurisdiction over any of the gas and oil producing facilities in the region, reports News Channel 10.
The state's Corporation Commissioner Matt Skinner told the Associated Press the EPA had "confirmed on Sunday they were going to put that directive in place, and today they gave us the numbers.”
The 17 wells are located within a 211-square-mile area in Osage County, not too far from where the 5.6 magnitude quake occurred on Saturday. “We’ve never had to do anything that directly involved Osage County, but on Saturday (the EPA) were quick to respond," added Skinner.
Regional spokesman for the EPA, Joe Hubbard, would not confirm what was going on in Osage County, so we know nothing about the volume of wastewater being disposed of in the wells. Jason Zaun, a spokesman for the Osage Nation, did not return a telephone message seeking comment on the EPA's action.
“We are working closely with the state of Oklahoma, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Osage Nation to evaluate available information and take appropriate next steps to protect public health and the environment,” Hubbard said in a statement, according to The Spokesman-Review on Wednesday.
The Osage Nation Reservation, also known as Osage County, covers 2,300-square-miles of land in northeastern Oklahoma and is the state's largest county. The tribe owns all the mineral rights and because it is federal land, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has no jurisdiction.
“We have no data whatsoever on oil and gas activity in Osage County,” Skinner said. “We don’t know how many (wells). We don’t know how deep. We know nothing about them.”
In related news, two more earthquakes magnitude 4.1 and 3.6 rattled an area in northwest Oklahoma on Tuesday. Earthquakes of a magnitude of 3.0 or greater have been linked to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production.
More about wastewater wells, Epa, Osage Nation lands, Oklahoma earthquake, state regulators
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