HEIGHTS OIL WATCH
Protecting the People and Welfare of the Heights
A study published in the July issue of the prestigious journal Science led by Cornell scientists indicated that 20% of the earthquakes in the central United States are caused by 4 fracking wells. The journal Science along with Nature, is considered to be one of the top two peer-reviewed scientific journals in the world by scientists (the webmaster has published and reviewed a number of articles in these two journals and would like to state that any article that passes muster through the rigorous review process of Science should be taken very seriously).
Eric Hand, Editor of the journal stated that:
"So far in 2014, Oklahoma has seen more earthquakes than California—and seismologists are increasingly blaming them on the injection of wastewater from oil and gas operations. A study published online this week in Science links four of Oklahoma's most prolific wastewater wells to a swarm of 2547 small earthquakes near Jones, Oklahoma, by showing how the wells sent a wave of water pressure coursing through the subsurface. The pressure can reduce forces acting to keep faults locked and trigger earthquakes. Although the hazard of induced earthquakes is uncertain, regulators in Oklahoma and elsewhere are starting to limit well operations and require more frequent reporting of well data."
US Geological Survey scientists reported in a separate study, published in the October issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA), that injection of fracking wastewater into the ground was the likely culprit responsible for most of the earthquakes in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.
In yet another startling report, seismologists from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources found that fracking likely caused earthquakes stating the following: "Regarding the seismic events in Poland Township, ODNR geologists believe the sand and water injected into the well during the hydraulic fracturing process may have increased pressure on an unknown microfault in the area," ODNR said in a statement. As a results the state forced Hilcorp Energy to stop these activities until they can demonstrate that fracking is safe.
In 2012 the Arkansas state Oil and Gas Commission adopted laws requiring oil drillers to position wells away from known faults.
Read a report on fracking-induced earthquakes in National Geographic here.
Read a second article here on what may very well be a string of new earthquakes in Texas resulting from fracking activities.
Collectively, this recent data suggests that fracking activities can induce new earthquakes. It, however, remains unclear whether this is a result of fracking wastewater injection deep into the ground or the fracking process itself. In both cases, fluid is pumped at high pressure deep into the ground. Even conventional drilling operations might stimulate earthquakes. For example, in La Habra Heights, produced water is regularly injected into underground wells. Increasing drilling activities will certainly increase the amount of high pressure fluid being injected near fault lines.
In Southern California, a link of oil extraction activities has not yet been proven. Some scientists believe that demonstrating such a link in CA will be nearly impossible to prove due to our high background level of unpredictable earthquakes. While the effects of fracking remain uncertain in CA, there is evidence that oil extraction by itself can destabilize the earth in the Los Angeles basin. In 1963 the Baldwin Hills Dam failed and it were not for the quick action of local law enforcement officers many lives would have been lost. Thirteen years later after much deliberation, federal scientists concluded that the most likely cause of the dam's failure was “exploitation of the Inglewood oil field” beneath the city of Baldwin Hills, which caused the dam to sink and ultimately burst.
What we do know is that we live in one of the most seismological active areas in the world. Scientists believe that we are long overdue for a massive earthquake in So CA. The only question that remains then, is it worth taking the risk of fracking in La Habra Heights and tipping the seismological scales towards a final slip of massively loaded faults, causing our next massive earthquake?
The following video and images taken on August 29, 2014 depict an Occidental Petroleum heavy 18 wheeler trying to negotiate a turn on the steep and windy portions of Las Palomas. The road was blocked on this turn alone for 15-20 minutes from all residents and emergency vehicles from accessing the drought ridden upper portion of Las Palomas.
Video of truck negotiating steep and dangerous turn for 15 minutes
Images of August trucking on Las Palomas
The map below depicts some of the larger petroleum production sites in the city that could be expanded to high-intensity fracking or other well-stimulation techniques.
RED CIRCLES = 1000 foot radius. Many municipal authorities, safety officials and environmental think tanks have debated the safe set back distance of homes and other buildings from fracking wells. Multiple cities and states including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Dallas and New York have either proposed or enacted setbacks of oil or gas fracking wells of up to 2000 feet, with 1000 foot setbacks not uncommon. The red circles below represent 1000 foot hypothetical safety setbacks from homes. The red circles also represent what some fire officials and safety professional might consider as a minimum safe distance from catostophic explosion or well fires.
YELLOW CIRCLES = 1 mile radius. One mile might represent a potential evacuation zone in the event of a catastrophic well fire that could not be contained. From past well fires or explosions around the country, local fire and police authorities have evacuated residents up to a 5 mile radius. Our city is a high fire risk zone for the area and if a 2 mile + evacuation zone was established, essentially the entire city would have to evacuate.
The following images represent the larger oil sites in the city that have the most potential for expanding operations based on their size, grade and ease of access. There are two large sites in the West Heights (SEMPRA and the West/Las Palomas) property, on site on Hacienda Road and four sites in the East Heights. Aside from the SEMPRA-Matrix property the East Heights is probably at the highest risk for future expansion and fracking.
The impact of the Matrix Proposal could devastate Friendly Hills Estates and Friendly Hills Golf Club (boundaries of the lease are approximate)
Matrix plans to truck oil on Whittier owned equestrian trailHOW has discovered that Matrix plans to truck hazardous material and heavy equipment through parts of Las Palomas designated as an equestrian trail and owned by the City of Whittier.
Residents discovered a letter from the city of La Habra that our city council did not openly present to residents. La Habra has prohibited all hazmat oil trucking on their portion of Hacienda Road, eliminating access for Matrix to La Habra Heights.