Less than a week after state regulators shut down seven waste disposal wells in Oklahoma, two companies being sued for earthquake damages are asking the case be dismissed.
Spess Oil Company and New Dominion LLC say that plaintiff Sandra Ladra waited too long to file her suit, which asks for $75,000 in damages stemming from being hit by falling rock when an earthquake struck her home and damaged her chimney. The earthquake was allegedly triggered by the fracking companies, who were conducting wastewater injection nearby.
“When you look at the actual science and you look at the data, you can’t help but go, ‘It’s the injection wells, stupid.’ It’s just that obvious,” Scott E. Poynter, Ladra’s lead attorney, told the Associated Press. “Oklahoma shouldn’t have more earthquakes than anywhere on the planet, but it does.”
Earthquakes have proliferated across Oklahoma in recent years as oil and gas production from fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has exploded. During fracking, chemical-laced water is injected at high pressure into the ground, allowing pockets of trapped oil and gas to loosen and be captured. The process creates a huge amount of wastewater, which cannot be reused due to the chemical content and contamination from elements in the ground, often including oil itself. Fracking companies typically inject the wastewater into lined wells.
Chad Devereaux works to clear up bricks that fell from three sides of his in-laws’ home in Sparks, Okla, after two earthquakes hit the area in less than 24 hours. Oil and gas companies say the industry can’t survive if they are held accountable for earthquake damage.