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Canadian regulator: 4.6 magnitude quake caused by fracking

The earthquake struck on August 17, 2015 about 110 kilometers northwest of Fort St. John in British Columbia. Its epicenter was close to a fracking site operated by Progress Energy Canada Ltd. Workers at the drill site reported their pick-up trucks shook and power poles swayed by the quake prompting the natural gas production company to temporarily halt operations.

British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission, which regulates the fracking industry, had launched an investigation into the cause of the quake. It released a report last week stating that the 4.6-magnitude earthquake was caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing from an operator in the area.

Ken Paulson, chief operating officer of the OGS, said:

Progress Energy Canada Ltd., followed regulations and stopped operations as soon as the magnitude was known.We allowed them to continue operations with a reduced pump rate, but if another event were to occur of 3.5 or greater, you have to shut in again and we’ll try something different.

Honn Kao, a research scientist with Geological Survey of Canada, said that the quake could very likely be the largest fracking-caused earthquake in the world.

If this is proven to be linked to hydraulic fracturing, this would be a world record in terms of size. In theory, a bigger injection of fracking fluid can certainly trigger a bigger quake.

Recent studies have shown that fracking-induced quakes are shallow, triggering stronger ground motion and shaking which may become damaging in places without much earthquake preparedness.

For more news on fracking, go here.

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