Yet another reason to worry about fracking.

In 2010 and 2011, there were as many as 1,000 minor earthquakes in Arkansas. And scientists believe they were caused by fracking.

Seismologists at the U.S. Geological Survey say the disposal of millions of gallons of wastewater flowback as part of the fracking process can create "micro earthquakes," which are rarely felt, and also the rare larger seismic disruption. Scientists say that's what happened in Greenbrier, Arkansas, where the quakes damaged homes.

Yesterday, five local residents settled for an undisclosed sum of money after suing two oil companies. Those five residents aren't the only ones suing Chesapeake Energy and BHP Billiton. Twenty other residents are expecting to file lawsuits in Arkansas state court, according to Reuters.

Some 40 fracking-related civil lawsuits in eight different states have been filed since 2009, with claims varying from groundwater contamination to air pollution to excessive noise. None have gone to trial so far, and nearly half have been either dismissed or settled. Similar suits are still pending against the two oil companies, but lawyers on those cases tell Reuters those are also expected to reach settlements.

These lawsuits are some of the first in the country seeking to connect earthquakes to wastewater wells created by disposal drilling. Arkansas has had a permanent moratorium on the injection of fracking waste into underground disposal wells since 2011.

The treatment tanks at the SRE salt water disposal well are seen in Guy, Arkansas, August 6, 2013. Picture taken August 6, 2013. (REUTERS/Jim Young) 


 

Mary Mahan points to a crack in the floor tile of her home that was a result of an earthquake in Wooster, Arkansas, August 5, 2013. The Mahan's home sustained damage after an earthquake in February 2011. (REUTERS/Jim Young)
Tony Davis stands at the doorway which leads under his home in Greenbrier, Arkansas, August 6, 2013. Davis says the addition he built on to his main home became unsafe to live in after an earthquake in February 2011. (REUTERS/Jim Young) 
A billboard is seen on the side of the road set up by the law firm representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit against two oil companies near Greenbrier, Arkansas, August 6, 2013. (REUTERS/Jim Young) 
Arkansas Geological Society Geohazards Supervisor Scott Ausbrooks stands over a vault which houses a seismometer in Woolly Hollow State Park in Greenbrier, Arkansas, August 6, 2013. (REUTERS/Jim Young) 
A sign in Quitman, Arkansas, August 5, 2013.(REUTERS/Jim Young) 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Perspective

    In a Pandemic, We're All 'Transit Dependent'

    Now more than ever, public transportation is not just about ridership. Buses, trains, and subways make urban civilization possible.

  2. Coronavirus

    The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

    The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

  3. Equity

    What Bigotry Looks Like During Social Distancing

    As reports of harassment and assault against Asian Americans increase, community advocates are finding new ways to tackle the spread of xenophobia.

  4. photo: San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency employees turn an empty cable car in San Francisco on March 4.
    Transportation

    As Coronavirus Quiets Streets, Some Cities Speed Road and Transit Fixes

    With cities in lockdown and workplaces closed, the big drop in traffic and transit riders allows road repair and construction projects to rush forward.

  5. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

×