Nowadays, many nations live far beyond their means and possibilities and put the environment at risk by using all available resources and promoting pollution in different forms. The peculiar feature of such activities that they aim at helping people and supporting their development. For example, many drilling companies choose a fracking process as the main activity to extract shale gas from the underneath parts.
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This process of drilling down the earth is used for releasing the gas after such fracking fluids as water, sand, or special chemicals are injected into the rock and cause the reactions under high pressure. These injections, as well as other outcomes of a fracking process, turn out to be one of the possible reasons for earthquakes.
According to the report of the State Corporation Commission of the State of Kansas, the work of local drilling companies has considerably increased the number of seismic activities in the state (1). In this report, two Kansa counties, Harper and Sumner, were taken into consideration. The evaluation of these counties is important for me because they are not far from the place where I live. In this region, the period between 2010 and 2013 was crucial because its citizens experienced several significant earthquakes.
For example, in Harper County, 44 injection wells were observed in 2010, and 71 injection wells occurred in 2013 with 9,671,655 barrels of saltwater injected in 2010 and 51,827,349 barrels in 2013 (The State Corporation Commission of the State of Kansas 3). In Summer County, the situation differs a little: 53 injection wells in 2010, 79 injection wells in 2013, 9,763,265 saltwater barrels in 2010, and 10,722,360 barrels in 2013 (The State Corporation Commission of the State of Kansas 3).
Regarding the activities of drilling companies of Kansas and other environmental changes, 30 earthquakes were recorded from 1981 to 2010 in the region. Between 2013 and 2014, 131 earthquakes were reported with the majority of cases in the chosen Harper and Sumner counties. The largest earthquake that was about 4.9 magnitude temblor was observed in the northeast of Milan in 2014 (Chow). It was necessary to take some steps to prevent the destruction of the earth due to fracking processes.
One of the well-known oppositions to the use of fracking in Kansas was a formulation of a Task Force as a possibility to evaluate the worth of seismic activities in the region and reduce the number of potentially-induced events. In terms of this activity, each operator has to measure daily volumes of injections and report on them to the Conservation Division (The State Corporation Commission of the State of Kansas 5). It was concluded to allow no more than 25,000 saltwater barrels per day.
Though in the chosen area, fracking processes are still observed, their number and outcomes are under control and cause less harmful outcomes to the population. The amount of fine that is up to $10,000 per day turns out to be good motivation for the companies to follow the Order. However, this time, many companies get used to this number. Therefore, it is better to change it and motivate the companies by more significant numbers so that they evaluate both financial and environmental consequences of their work.
According to the results the latest results, in Kansas, 35 earthquakes have occurred during the last 30 days with one being about 23 minutes long and the shortest case of about 30 seconds (Earthquake Track). Compared to the historical cases, almost the same length of earthquakes was recorded. Therefore, no considerable changes and improvements were observed even after the Order was developed.
In general, the number of earthquakes has increased. This change may be explained as because of the number of fracking processes in the region, as well as because of other crucial weather and environmental challenges. Unfortunately, even if being aware of the threats of fracking and the outcomes of the earthquakes in Kansas, ordinary people like me can do nothing to reduce its frequency.
Chow, Lorraine. “It’s Official: Injection of Fracking Wastewater Caused Kansas’ Biggest Earthquake.” EcoWatch. 2016. Web.
Earthquake Track. Recent Earthquakes Near Kansas, United States. 2017. Web.
The State Corporation Commission of the State of Kansas. Order Reducing Saltwater Injection Rates. 2015. Web.