Oklahoma, EPA shutter 32 wells in new earthquake-prone area

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – State and federal regulators say 32 disposal wells in northeastern Oklahoma must shut down because they are too near a newly discovered fault line that produced the state’s strongest earthquake on record.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said Monday that 27 wells under its jurisdiction would cease operations, along with five wells in Osage County, which is covered by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules.

A magnitude 5.8 quake at Pawnee, Oklahoma, on Sept. 3 shook several states, including Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. Shortly afterward, geologists speculated on whether the temblor occurred on a previously unknown fault.

In a standard energy field practice, wastewater from oil and gas production is injected deep into the earth. The high pressure has been blamed for triggering an increase in earthquakes.

Regulators shuttered wells within 10 miles of the new fault.