So what is up with all the earthquakes in East Texas? We keep hearing of earthquakes and yet until recently earthquakes were mostly non-existent in this region of the country.
Yesterday there was a small 2.7 earthquake again in Timpson Texas not too far from the Louisiana border although people as far as 50 miles away may have felt the trimmers. They say that the epicenter was about 4 miles into the earth and that the quake was likely an aftershock of previous days quakes.
The good thing is that these quakes are way down on the Richter scale and have caused little to no damage. The last one reported was Sunday in the Nacogdoches area. The blame for these quakes among most experts opinions is that commercial salt water disposal injection wells operating in the area could be at fault.
These wells are disposal wells and not the wells many think of where by injecting water into oil and gas drill holes you can quickly get to the oil and natural gas by breaking a part sand, clay, and shale.
Instead these wells are simply used to dump salt water from Louisiana drilling or naturally recovered from underground Louisiana locations in the process of oil and gas drilling in an underground waste dump right here in Texas.
Our energy demands for this country and the world require that we find oil and natural gas for building roads, creating electricity, and all the related petroleum products we make which is pretty much everything on the store shelf.
I am all for the drilling of oil, natural gas, and the required disposal of produced salt water from these wells but I believe common sense safety precautions must be followed as well. There must be a give in take and risk reward must be considered when dealing with these waste water contracts in Texas.
Now think with me for a minute. Do you want East Texas to be a waste water dump for used contaminated salt water from Louisiana drilling that could one day pollute the very large freshwater aquifer known as the Carrizo Wilcox aquifer?
The Texas railroad commission did raise some concerns prior to permitting some of these disposal wells that they could become over-pressurized on certain formations and a potential threat to usable water supplies.
When you create these big holes underground it can lead to trimmers above ground. The center of the quake has been located in a small town called Timpson, Texas. On Thursday May 17 2012 there was a 4.8 magnitude quake in this area. People living in Nacogdoches could feel the trimmer.
In the same area on May 10th there was a 3.9 magnitude quake. These quakes could be felt as far away as approximately 75 miles from their epicenter.
I am all for oil and natural gas drilling and even disposal contracts with other states but at the same time I need to know what investigations and safety precautions the Texas Railroad commission is taking. We now are having what appears to be obvious earthquakes related to built up pressure from salt water disposal.
What actions is the Texas Railroad Commission taking to make sure these quakes will not be getting worse and that our water supply will not be polluted?
Ramona Nye, the media contact for the railroad commission, said “there are three permitted injection wells within a five-mile radius of the epicenters of the earthquakes. Two are active”, she said. “These wells have been permitted to inject since 2006,” Nye said. “Texas has a long history of safe injections, and staff has not identified a significant correlation between seismic activity and injection practices.” source – News Journal
Frohlich, associate director of the University of Texas Institute of Geophysics said a series of minor earthquakes in 2008-09 near Cleburne, south of Dallas, were linked to injection wells in that area which is a part of the Barnett shale formation. source – News Journal
Provided that the injection wells are located far enough below the water supply and remain contained there should be no danger to the water supply but with unforeseen earthquakes it makes you wonder what else do we have to look forward to? My question is, What happens if that cap that is supposed to contain the water pops off, then what?
Let’s assume a larger earthquake happens, waste water becomes uncontainable, and finally our fresh water aquifer gets polluted. What are the chances of this happening?
The day after the earthquakes the state of Texas Railroad Commission was out there inspecting the wells and looking for corrective action. Everything was up to code from what they saw. They are obviously out there doing their job immediately following the quake events and I am glad we have an active concerned team of investigators with the state.
At the same time these are my sincere honest questions and as much as I like oil and cheap natural gas used in the generation of my electricity I want the state of Texas to be responsible in the extraction and production of these petroleum fuels as well.