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Kansas Restricts Waste Disposal to Reduce Earthquakes

by Elizabeth Alford on August 11, 2016

Kansas has tightened restrictions for fracking waste in order to reduce earthquakes.

Related: Texas Earthquakes The Verdict is Still Out

Yesterday, the Kansas Corporation Commission approved an order putting more limits on the amount of saltwater that oil and gas producers may inject into wells in Harper, Sumner, Kingman, Sedgwick and Barber counties. The change comes on the heels of previous restriction, which proved to reduce the incidence of earthquakes in the state.

“We’ve taken action to see that we don’t have the seismic activity we’ve seen south of Kansas (mostly in Oklahoma),” said Commissioner Pat Apple

The commission added another 16,000-barrel per day limit on top of the 12k that was approved earlier this year and called for continued monitoring of earthquakes and wastewater disposal. Some critics believe that stronger restrictions are necessary.

The Kansas Geological Survey  recently determined that fracking itself wasn’t the cause for earthquakes. Instead, the likely cause is when oilfield wastewater is injected into rock formations underground.  These injection wells have been the focus of recent criticism since a new study presented scientific evidence that they lead to earthquakes. The peer reviewed study led by researchers at SMU concluded that earthquakes in the north Texas communities of Azle and Reno were likely triggered by the wastewater disposal methods used by fracking companies.

The new order also call for steep fines for violations of the disposal limit or record-keeping requirements could result in a $10,000-a-day fine and shutdown and sealing of the well.

Read the full order here

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