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Fracking, not wastewater disposal, to blame for earthquakes

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A new study has placed the blame for human-caused earthquakes in western Canada on hydraulic fracturing. A group of Canadian researchers found that fracking – and not the disposal of waste water – is what’s causing the quakes.

Previous research had determined that oil and gas activity can lead to seismic events as it makes it easier for faults in underground rock to slip, but they weren’t sure whether it was the fracking or injecting waste water back into the ground that was at fault. To figure it out, they looked at more than 12,000 wells drilled between 1985 and 2015 and cross-referenced them with earthquakes during that time.

The scientists say only 0.3 per cent of fracked wells cause problems, but there are enough drilled that even that amount could be a problem. The Alberta Energy Regulator has already changed regulations after a large quake that shook Fox Creek in January.

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