Res­i­dents hit by quakes sue 27 en­ergy com­pa­nies

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - The As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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