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Fracking and Earthquakes

Fracking and Earthquakes
 

There have been many concerning issues mentioned in recent years about hydraulic fracturing, which is sometimes referred to as fracking.  Although there have been many discussions in the media regarding this process, scientists really know very little when it comes to fracking and the potential for earthquakes.

Hydraulic fracturing is the high-pressure process of injecting water and chemicals into underground rock in order to discharge any inaccessible gas or oil that is currently locked below the Earth’s surface.  Until recently, little was known about the potential impacts of fracking.  Any real evidence that may have connected earthquakes to fracking indicated that post-drilling procedures, such as the high pressure re-injection of waste water into wells, might be a possible problem.  Many scientists felt that if a better method of waste water disposal could be found, there would be potentially less risk of an earthquake happening.

Earlier this year, geologists found that their initial ideas and concerns regarding waste water disposal methods may not be enough.  In fact, they found that based on events in Ohio, the actual fracking process itself might also have a huge impact on seismic instability.  Geologists reported that a small series of seismic activity in Ohio seemed to be connected to a number of fracking wells, even when there were no re-injection sites in the surrounding area.  The state of Ohio has detailed rules in place to ensure fracking operations remain a specific distance away from earthquake fault lines.  In addition, there are rules in place calling for regular observation and monitoring of all seismic activity.

To date, any noticeable seismic activity that has been possibly linked to both fracking and re-injection has been minimal, however geologists are very aware that large-scale fracking operations have not been set up in larger, more active earthquake territory – such as California. Because the potential impact is currently unknown, many scientists are concerned about what the effect might be when major fracking operations are set up near any of the active faults within California.  As it is, even without the help of any hydraulic fracturing, there is always the possibility that a large, incredibly powerful temblor could occur at any time.  Fracking could cause an even more devastating earthquake, or it might just have the opposite effect by releasing seismic pressure through many much less powerful quakes.

Early fracking that has already been done in California has happened in remote areas of the state and not near the active fault lines; therefore, not much is currently known about the potential impact of fracking in the more populated areas located near California’s many fault zones.  Today, many of the waste water injection wells happen to be close to fault lines that are considered to be active.  That means that it is possible that there will be a greater potential risk for earthquakes and devastating infrastructure damage throughout the state as more fracking occurs.

There are many buildings in the Los Angeles area that may not be strong enough to withstand a major earthquake.  If you are a commercial property owner, now is the time to consider an earthquake retrofit.  Earthquake retrofitting your Los Angeles area building can strengthen the structural integrity of your property, protecting your assets from costly potential damage before disaster occurs.  No one can predict when the next “Big One” will strike!

Commercial property owners are the decision makers when it comes to the security of their building, including the safety of all occupants.  If your building is more than twenty-five years old, it is time to have a comprehensive building safety inspection.  The experienced team at Saunders Commercial Earthquake Retrofit can provide a thorough review of your building structure, documenting any safety concerns and maintenance requirements.  After the inspection, their professionals will provide a detailed retrofit plan and quote, so you will have all the information needed to make your earthquake preparedness plans.  If you have questions about earthquake retrofitting or want to learn know more about protecting your commercial building and those who live or work there, contact Saunders Commercial Earthquake Retrofit in Los Angeles now —- before it is too late!

Southern California Office

(949) 646-0034

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