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Earthquake hits Wayne National Forest: ODNR suspends activity at nearby fracking sites

Woodsfield, OH – Over the weekend, a 3.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio. The earthquake occurred shortly before 8:00 a.m on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The epicenter was in the Sycamore Valley area in northern Bethel Township, Monroe County. Details are still emerging about the event.

“This earthquake is a clear example of the risks involved in fracking,” said Melanie Houston, Director of Oil and Gas for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Instead of charging ahead with leasing in the Wayne National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service should be considering what dangers we’re inviting into Ohio’s only national forest.”

Earthquakes in the area are uncommon, especially at such a magnitude. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas reported that several oil and gas operations were shut down temporarily in response to the earthquake. In 2014, the agency issued stronger permit conditions for drilling near faults and areas of seismic activity. According to updated ODNR rules, if the investigation of the earthquake reveals a probable connection to the hydraulic fracturing process, all wells in the area will be suspended.

There are currently seven hydraulic fracturing extraction wells within five miles of the earthquake’s epicenter. While it was once thought that only injection wells could trigger earthquakes, we’ve since learned extraction wells can cause earthquakes as well. In March 2014, there were a series of small earthquakes in Poland, OH, which were determined to have been caused by extraction wells.

As of today, more than 1,800 acres have been leased for hydraulic fracturing in the Marietta Unit of the Wayne National Forest, with up to 40,000 acres available for lease. The Wayne National Forest should be off limits to hydraulic fracturing activity that can cause earthquakes, landscape changes, habitat disruption, spills, and accidents.