Issue Date: June 25, 2012
Earthquake Risk Of Energy Technologies
The initial underground injection of fluids for hydraulic fracturing poses little risk of causing earthquakes, according to a recent report by the National Research Council. The report finds greater risk of earthquakes from underground injection of the resulting wastewater from these fracturing sites as well as other energy-related technologies when conducted over extended periods of time. The report also warns that underground injection of carbon dioxide has the potential to induce earthquakes because of the high volume and pressure involved as well as the length of time material will be injected. But the study says insufficient information exists to characterize the impact of CO2 injection because no large-scale projects are in operation. The NRC report does point out that the seismic events associated with energy technologies have not resulted in loss of life or significant damage in the U.S., but earthquakes have been reported by residents living near the sites and the seismic events are increasingly raising concerns.
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