40 to 50 build­ings dam­aged, oil hub un­harmed in Ok­la­homa earth­quake

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Justin Juoza­pavi­cius

Dozens of build­ings sus­tained “sub­stan­tial dam­age” af­ter a 5.0 mag­ni­tude earth­quake struck an Ok­la­homa town that’s home to one of the world’s key oil hubs, but of­fi­cials said Mon­day that no dam­age has been re­ported at the oil ter­mi­nal.

Cushing City Man­ager Steve Spears said 40 to 50 build­ings were dam­aged in Sun­day’s earth­quake, which was the third in Ok­la­homa this year with a mag­ni­tude of 5.0 or greater. No ma­jor in­juries have been re­ported, and Spears said the dam­age in­cluded cracks to build­ings and fallen bricks and fa­cades.

Ok­la­homa has had thou­sands of earth­quakes in re­cent years, with nearly all traced to the un­der­ground in­jec­tion of waste­water left over from oil and gas pro­duc­tion. Sun­day’s quake was cen­tered 1 mile west of Cushing and about 25 miles south of where a mag­ni­tude 4.3 quake forced a shut­down of sev­eral wells last week. Some long­time Cushing res­i­dents said Mon­day they’ve be­come ac­cus­tomed to the un­set­tled ground be­neath their feet. Oth­ers shrugged it off as a cost of do­ing busi­ness liv­ing next to an oil hub.

Fear­ing af­ter­shocks, po­lice cor­doned off older parts of the city about 50 miles north­east of Ok­la­homa City to keep gawk­ers away late Sun­day, and ge­ol­o­gists con­firmed that sev­eral small quakes have rum­bled the area. Spears said an as­sisted liv­ing com­mu­nity had been evac­u­ated af­ter dam­age was re­ported. The Cushing Pub­lic School Dis­trict can­celed Mon­day classes.

The Ok­la­homa Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion re­ported Sun­day night that no high­way or bridge dam­age was found within a 15mile ra­dius of the earth­quake’s epi­cen­ter.

The quake struck at 7:44 p.m. Sun­day and was felt as far away as Iowa, Illi­nois and Texas. The U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey ini­tially said Sun­day’s quake was of mag­ni­tude 5.3 but later low­ered the read­ing to 5.0.

“I thought my whole trailer was go­ing to tip over, it was shak­ing it so bad,” said Cushing res­i­dent Cindy Roe, 50. “It was loud and all the lights went out and you could hear things fall­ing on the ground.

“It was aw­ful and I don’t want to have an­other one.”

In re­cent years, Ok­la­homa reg­u­la­tors have asked oil and gas pro­duc­ers to ei­ther close waste­water in­jec­tion wells or cut back on the vol­ume of flu­ids in­jected. The re­duc­tions have gen­er­ally led to a drop-off in quakes and their sever­ity, though not al­ways.

Ok­la­homa’s strong­est quake on record, a mag­ni­tude 5.8 tem­blor on Sept. 3, oc­curred in Pawnee, on the fringe of an area that had al­ready re­stricted waste­water dis­posal. Shortly af­ter­ward, ge­ol­o­gists spec­u­lated on whether the tem­blor oc­curred on a pre­vi­ously un­known fault.

Ok­la­homa Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey geo­physi­cist Jef­fer­son Chang said Sun­day’s quake and sev­eral af­ter­shocks have been oc­cur­ring on a fault line lo­cated about 2 miles west of Cushing.

“The ac­tiv­ity has been go­ing on for the past year and a half or so,” Chang said. “This is just a spike in the ac­tiv­ity.”

Cushing’s oil stor­age ter­mi­nal is one of the world’s largest. As of Oct. 28, tank farms in the coun­try­side around Cushing held 58.5 mil­lion bar­rels of crude oil, ac­cord­ing to data from the U.S. En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The com­mu­nity bills it­self as the “Pipe­line Cross­roads of the World.”

Cushing As­sis­tant City Man­ager Jeremy Fra­zier said two pipe­line com­pa­nies had re­ported no trou­ble as of late Sun­day but that the com­mu­nity hadn’t heard from all com­pa­nies. Gov. Mary Fallin tweeted that no dam­age was re­ported at the stor­age tanks at Cushing’s oil stor­age ter­mi­nal.

Some res­i­dents tried to re­sume nor­mal lives Mon­day, treat­ing the earth­quake as more nui­sance than calamity, even though the tem­blor could be a pre­dic­tor of more to come.

JIM BECKEL THE OKLAHOMAN VIA AP

Dam­age in Cushing, Okla., is seen on Mon­day caused by Sun­day night’s 5.0 mag­ni­tude earth­quake. Dozens of build­ings sus­tained “sub­stan­tial dam­age” af­ter a 5.0 mag­ni­tude earth­quake struck Cushing, home to one of the world’s key oil hubs, but of­fi­cials said Mon­day that no dam­age has been re­ported at the oil ter­mi­nal.

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