Fracking is facilitating an oil and gas boom in the Buckeye State, and Ohioans have reason to be shaken up about the issue. Between the spring of 2011 and early 2012, a fracking waste injection well known as Northstar 1 caused more than a dozen minor earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio, including one 4.0 magnitude earthquake that was felt for miles.
A Truthout investigation has revealed that Ohio regulators permitted Northstar 1 operators to raise its maximum injection pressure twice, once shortly before and once again after the well caused two initial earthquakes on March 17, 2011. The injection well had the highest pressure of any well in the state, but the well operator was not required to conduct seismic testing before drilling and operating the well.
The well was drilled more than 9,000 feet into a deep rock formation called the Precambrian basement, where the bottom of the well was left uncased, or "open hole," allowing drilling waste to flow freely into the underground formation, according to geological documents obtained by Truthout. It appears the drilling waste fluid lubricated a previously unknown fault as drilling waste moved through the Precambrian layer and caused the series of earthquakes.