Residents hit by quakes sue 27 energy companies
Residents of a town hit by Oklahoma’s strongest earthquake have filed a class-action lawsuit against dozens of energy companies, accusing them of triggering destructive temblors by injecting wastewater from oil and natural gas production underground.
Pawnee residents filed the suit Thursday in district court against 27 companies, saying they operate wastewater injection wells even though they know the method causes earthquakes. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount for property damage and reduced value, plus emotional distress.
A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck the town of about 2,200 in September and the lawsuit claims 52 more have hit the area since. On Nov. 6, a magnitude 5.0 quake damaged dozens of buildings in nearby Cushing, a town that is home to one of the world’s largest oil hubs.
Oklahoma has had thousands of earthquakes in recent years, with nearly all traced to underground wastewater disposal. Some scientists say that the highpressure injection of massive amounts of chemical-laced wastewater deep in the earth induces the quakes. Regulators have asked oil and gas producers to either close injection wells or reduce the volume of fluids they inject.
Residents and environmental groups in neighboring states have sued energy companies curb or stop similar operations.