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California | Environment & Forest Defense

Earthquakes Pose Threat To Injection And Production Well Integrity
by Tomas DiFiore
Sunday Mar 30th, 2014 11:24 AM
Released in March 2014, On Shaky Ground: Fracking, Acidizing, and Increased Earthquake Risk in California was produced by Earthworks, The Center for Biological Diversity, and Clean Water Action. The report analyzes the earthquake risks associated with an increase in wastewater injection that would result from an expansion of fracking and other unconventional oil production in California. Impeccable timing. The recent La Habra earthquake, was felt in at least seven Southern California counties; Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura.

Earthquakes Pose Threat To Injection And Production Well Integrity

Do concerns over increased fracking on California's Faultlines have any merit? Frac Yeah!

In 2012, it was found that most well failures are patched within six months of being discovered, EPA data shows as much as five years passes between integrity tests, so it can take a while for leaks to be discovered. And not every well can be repaired. Kansas shut down at least 47 injection wells in 2010, filling them with cement and burying them, because their mechanical integrity could not be restored. Louisiana shut down 82. Wyoming shut down 144. Also, if injected waste reaches the bottom of old wells, it can quickly be driven back toward aquifers, as has happened in Chico.

Injection well accidents won't stay hidden. A 1987 General Accountability Office review put the total number of cases in which waste had migrated from Class 1 hazardous waste wells into underground aquifers at 10, including Texas and Pennsylvania sites. Two of those aquifers were considered potential drinking water sources.

In 1989, the GAO reported 23 more cases in seven states where oil and gas injection wells had failed and polluted aquifers. New regulations had done little to prevent the problems, the report said, largely because most of the wells involved had been grandfathered in and had not had to comply with key aspects of the rules.

Compromised

As federal regulators toughened rules for injecting hazardous waste, oil and gas companies argued that the new standards could drive them out of business. State oil and gas regulators pushed back against the regulations, too, saying that enforcing the rules for Class 2 wells which handle the vast majority of injected waste by volume would be expensive and difficult.

Ultimately, the energy industry won a critical change in the federal government's legal definition of waste: Since 1988, all material resulting from the oil and gas drilling process is considered non-hazardous, regardless of its content or toxicity.
http://www.propublica.org/article/injection-wells-the-poison-beneath-us

Increased Use Of 'Aquifer Exemptions' By The Oil And Gas Industry, see more at:
Contaminate Migration Expected Under SB 4 “Well Stimulation Regulations” for California (Feb 6th, 2014)
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/02/06/18750410.php

La Habra 03/30/2014 Tectonic Summary

A M5.1 earthquake occurred at 9:09pm on March 28, 2014, located 1 km (1 mile) east of La Habra, CA, 5 km (3 miles) north of Fullerton, CA and 33 km (21 miles) ESE of Los Angeles. The depth of the event is 7.5 km. The event was felt widely throughout Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. It was preceded by two foreshocks, a M3.6 at 8:03pm and a M2.1 at 8:16 pm.
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/ci15481673#summary

There have been 38 aftershocks as of 10:45pm, the largest of which was a M3.6 at 9:30pm, and was felt locally near the epicenter. The aftershock sequence may continue for several days to weeks, but will likely decay in frequency and magnitude as time goes by. The maximum observed instrumental intensity was VII, recorded in the LA Habra and Brea areas, although the ShakeMap shows a wide area of maximum intensity of VI. Maximum reported intensity for the Community Internet Intensity Map (Did You Feel It?) was reported at VI in the epicentral area.

This sequence could be associated with the Puente Hills thrust (PHT). The PHT is a blind thrust fault that extends from this region to the north and west towards the City of Los Angeles. It caused the M5.9 1987 Oct. 1 Whittier Narrows earthquake.

The moment tensor showed oblique faulting, with a north dipping plane that approximately aligns with the Puente Hills thrust.
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/ci15481673#summary

Caltech seismologist Robert Graves, Caltech's Lucy Jones state that the earthquake was felt in at least seven Southern California counties; Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura. The quake was at a depth of around one mile and followed by about 20 aftershocks, two greater than magnitude 3.0. There were no reports of surface rupture and scientists are not yet able to assign it to a particular fault. The earthquake was probably 10 times larger than the March 17 magnitude- 4.4 quake near Encino in terms of energy released.
http://www.thevillagenews.com/story/77197/

Epicenter: 1km South of La Habra Latitude: 33.919 Longitude: -117.943
http://projects.scpr.org/earthquakes/la-habra-march-29-2014/10149/

The associated faultline maps are excerpts from the new report:
“On Shaky Ground: Fracking, Acidizing, And Increased Earthquake Risk In California” (36 pages, 3.8 MB).
http://www.shakyground.org/

The report analyzes the earthquake risks associated with an increase in wastewater injection that would result from an expansion of fracking and other unconventional oil production in California.

Released in March 2014, On Shaky Ground: Fracking, Acidizing, and Increased Earthquake Risk in California was produced by Earthworks, The Center for Biological Diversity, and Clean Water Action. Direct download link:
http://www.shakyground.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ShakyGround-FINAL1.pdf

Tomas DiFiore
No Drill No Spill