August 25, 2016 — The EPA believes there is “significant possibility” that fracking wells caused a recent spike in earthquake activity in North Texas, according to The Texas Tribune.
The EPA is specifically concerned about the risk of contaminating underground sources of drinking water.
The EPA recommended “close monitoring” of fracking wastewater injection wells, including daily reporting of pressure and volumes, in a 61-page report (PDF) to the Texas Railroad Commission.
The Railroad Commission regulates oil and gas drilling in Texas and denies any link between fracking and recent earthquake activity.
Since 1975, Texas has been hit with 165 earthquakes of 3.0-magnitude or greater — mostly in the last decade, coinciding with the proliferation of disposal wells in the Barnett Shale region.
In 2015, there were 21 earthquakes of 3.0-magnitude or greater in Texas. On May 7, a 4.0-magnitude quake hit south of Dallas. It caused minor damage and was the largest ever recorded in North Texas.
The Railroad Commission investigated the 4.0 quake, but concluded they had “no evidence” that five wastewater disposal wells in a 100-mile radius of the epicenter were responsible.
In a study at the University of Texas, researchers said 60% of those quakes were “almost certainly” or “probably” caused by oil and gas activities.
Fracking wells inject millions of gallons of toxic wastewater and chemicals deep underground under extremely high pressure. Experts have known for decades that they can trigger earthquakes, especially it they are drilled along unstable faults.
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