BC’s 4.6m Fracking Quake

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1The recent  earthquake near Wonowon is the largest of over 500 seismic events, in northeastern BC, believed to be caused by hydraulic fracturing. It may be remembered as BC’s 4.6m fracking quake.

Likely To Be Induced By Fracking

Though the connection has not yet been proven, the quake’s epicentre was just 3 kilometres from Progress Energy’s fracking site. The company immediately shut down operations and notified the province’s oil and gas commission.

“It’s still under investigation, but it was likely induced by hydraulic fracturing,” said Alan Clay, the commission’s communications manager.

Previous Seismic Events

Commission Offices & BC's Major Gas Plays - From the Montney Study
Commission Offices & BC’s Major Gas Plays – From the Montney Study

When the commission monitored seismic events in this area, during the fourteen months ending in October 2014, they “found that during this period 231 seismic events in the Montney were attributed to oil and gas operations – 38 induced by wastewater disposal and 193 by hydraulic fracturing operations. None of the recorded events resulted in any injuries, property damage or loss of wellbore containment.”

A previous study, in the province’s Horn River Basin,(2012) documented 272 seismic events” that “were caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing in proximity to pre-existing faults” between April 2009 and December 2011.

Most of these seismic event were also too slight to be felt, the Wonowon quake is different.

Everyone Here Felt It

“Everybody here felt it. I was sitting in my medic truck and I felt the whole thing shake. Some light towers were shaking,”  Kaila Walton told the Alaska Highway News.

“My house got shook. My couch I was on was actually shaking with me. It dawned on me it could be earthquake, but it could be fracking in the area. I don’t think they should continue fracking,” Bernice Lilly told the CBC.

Magnitudes Increasing Every Year

There have also been quakes across the border, in the Fox Creek area of Alberta. Prior to the commencement of fracking operations in 2013, this region had one measurable quake a year. There have been at least 160 “small” quakes since then and two measuring 4.4 this year.

According to Gail Atkinson, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Induced Seismicity Hazards at Ontario’s Western University, “the magnitudes have been increasing every year.”

Top Photo Credit: Image of Wonowon, BC, from Google Maps Streetview

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