Oil-drilling wastewater causing earthquakes, expert says

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources shut down four "fluid injection" wells after Saturday's earthquake in northeast Ohio.

In the wake of a recent decision by Ohio state officials to close four "fluid injection" wells, at least one expert believes that pumping oil-drilling wastewater back into a northeast Ohio well has "almost certainly" caused a series of earthquakes, according to published reports.

Eleven minor earthquakes have occurred around Youngstown in the past year, including one on Saturday.

Reports said Northstar Disposal Services has used the wells to dispose of brine wastewater from shale oil and gas drilling. This is reportedly different than fracking, which has gained national attention from those concerned about its safety, although some claim this process is related to fracking.

The Youngstown well is near a fault that geologists did not know about, the report said, and the wastewater's pressure caused the shift of the fault and, therefore, the earthquakes.

"The earthquakes will trickle on as a kind of a cascading process once you've caused them to occur," John Armbruster of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory told the Associated Press. "This one year of pumping is a pulse that has been pushed into the ground, and it's going to be spreading out for at least a year."

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