Argentinian Town Revolts After 37 Fracking Earthquakes In 31 Hours
The people of Sauzal Bonito in Argentina’s Neuquén province recently found out first hand about one of the impacts of fracking. The area which sits on top of the Vaca Muerta Shale formation was hit by an, until now, unusual swarm of 37 earthquakes in late January, ranging from magnitude 1.4 to 3.6. Though not huge the shallow quakes cause structural damage to buildings in the town and shutdown a pump, causing water shortages. The director of Sismología de Chile, Joaquín Vázquez, is reported as saying “We had never detected so many earthquakes in such a short time”. The initial swarm was followed by a further 12 earthquakes over the following 8 days.
In the days following the swarm residents of the town blocked trucks from delivering sand and other supplies along the road that runs between Cutral Co and Anelo. The road is the main route into the Vaca Muerta and an essential supply line for companies exploiting the shale. Sauzal Bonito is located 2 km away from Fortin de Piedra, where Tecpetrol is transitioning its shale gas pilot project into initial full-scale production with a 150-well drilling and fracking campaign. Since 2010 more than 588 shale wells have been drilled in the Vaca Muerta, with the number of wells fractured increased in 2018 to 143 from 104 in 2017, and is expected to rise to 207 next year and about 250 in 2021.
There have been previous fracking linked earthquakes in other parts of the Vaca Meurta, including a magnitude 4.2 on 19th Nov 2015 which caused some damage, and continuing in 2018 with more earthquakes, and a magnitude 3.4 in May 2018, as well as 5 earthquakes between magnitude 2.2 and 4.0 in November/December. Across the globe wherever fracking goes swarms of earthquakes follow. Almost all states and provinces in the US and Canada where fracking is taking place have experience fracking earthquakes, either induced by hydraulic fracturing or fracking waste injection. Particular hot spots are Oklahoma, US (due to waste injection wells) and British Columbia, Canada (hydraulic fracturing induced). These earthquakes are not all small with the largest so far a magnitude 5.7 in Oklahoma.
In the UK the nascent fracking industry is trying to lobby for themselves to be allowed to create larger earthquakes, after Cuadrilla’s testing at Preston New Road last year showed that they cannot frack without creating earthquakes. Join the fracking resistance! Join or form an anti-fracking group where you live. Read up on how you can fight fracking where you live.