China Suspends Shale Gas Extraction After Earthquake Kills 2 People
A county in the western Chinese province of Sichuan has suspended drilling for shale gas in response to protests by residents, after a series of earthquakes that led to two deaths was linked to fracking. The first quake hit Sichuan province’s Rongxian county on Sunday morning, followed by two more, including a magnitude 4.9 quake on Monday afternoon that caused the two fatalities. Twelve people were injured, according to the county government and other reports suggest the quakes have damaged more than 10,000 buildings to various degrees.
Thousands of protesters tried to storm government offices in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on Monday after the string of recent earthquakes which local residents blame on fracking activities. “There were probably 10,000 people there today, and the Rongxian county government shut its gates and wouldn’t let us in,” Rongxian resident Zeng Yulan told the media. “Two people died in today’s earthquakes, and a lot of others were injured and some houses collapsed, so a lot of people had nowhere to sleep tonight.”
Sichuan, the centre of attempts to exploit shale gas in China where over a 1,000 wells have been drilled so far, has previously been hit by fracking earthquakes. In 2017 fracking operations in Sichuan triggered a magnitude 4.7 earthquake (PDF) that damaged or destroyed nearly 600 homes. A shale gas site near the town of Shangluo and its environs in the Sichuan Basin five magnitude greater than 4.0 earthquakes occurred during hydraulic fracturing operations. The largest of these, a 4.7 magnitude quake which occurred on 28th Jan 2017, caused significant damages to nearby farmhouses and other structures.
Three earthquakes struck Sichuan’s Rong Xian county between 5.40pm on Sunday and 1.15pm on Monday and ranged from 4.3 to 4.9 in magnitude, affecting more than 13,000 residents and damaging more than 10,000 buildings. The cost of the damage was estimated to be more than 14 million yuan (US$2.1 million).
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.