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Wells to Shut Down, Lawsuit Continues

(KATV) Faulkner County - The evidence was not concrete, but the Oil and Gas Commission voted unanimously to ban current and future injection wells spanning 11-hundred square miles. That includes parts of Faulkner, Conway, Cleburne, Van Buren and White counties.

Commissioner Mike Davis says putting people at possible risk was not right. And even though Sam Lane who filed a class action lawsuit earlier this year against the natural gas companies (BHP Billiton Petroleum, Chesapeake Operating Inc., and Clarita Operating LLC.) is happy with the outcome. He says the damage has been done and he's suit is still active.

Lane says he filed for a loss of real estate market value, emotional distress, structure damage and having to purchase earthquake insurance.

He points, "We noticed this crack here just a couple of days after the 4.7, the largest earthquake we had out of all of them."

Rather than get used to the earthquakes that started rattling Faulkner County nearly a year ago Sam Lane decided to investigate by requesting seismic data from the state and plotting them.

He recalls, "We started feeling sometime dozens a day."

He lives within miles of three injection wells; two were temporarily shut down pending the outcome of the Oil and Gas Commission meeting this week. "When they shut them down the earthquakes almost stopped."

The Arkansas Geological Survey confirms the fault hasn't been active in 400-million years and whether it's a coincidence or not, quakes erupted soon after the wells went on line. The fault has since grown and scientist say even though the wells have permanently been shut down, there's no guarantee how soon the quakes will stop, if there is a correlation.

Lane attended the hearing; he's relieved by the outcome, but isn't letting up on the lawsuit. "I've talked to people who have tens of thousands of dollars in damage; they've basically described their home being split in half."

He continues, "Lawsuit is still going even though they shut the wells down. I still have the damage. I still have to pay for earthquake insurance and we still lost money from this."

Several dozens Faulkner County residents have joined the lawsuit and Lane is expecting more after Wednesday's outcome.

Click on the link under the picture for more on Lane's organization, Stop Arkansas Fracking.

We first told you Tuesday the owners of three wells in Faulkner County agreed to plug them permanently, but the well owned by deep six refused, saying there wasn't concrete evidence.

For several months now, the injection/disposal wells in Faulkner County in the Greenbrier Guy Swarm have been at the center of controversy into whether or not they contributed to the earthquakes.

Wednesday, the Oil and Gas Commission voted unanimously to ban current and future injection/disposal wells in the area that includes Faulkner, Cleburne, Van Buren, Conway and White Counties.

The two day meeting was scheduled to show the results of the study and any possible correlation between the earthquakes and the injection/disposal wells. Even though scientist didn't give any hard evidence, Commissioner Mike Davis says putting people at possible risk was not right.

Some in attendance argued the area was seismically active before drilling, but folks who live in this community who allege they have earthquake damage and who now have earthquake insurance says it's too much of a coincidence that the earthquakes started weeks after the wells were switched on.

The seismic activity has not stopped since the moratorium was issued, but they have slowed down tremendously. According to the Arkansas Geological Survey, it could take weeks, months even years for them to stop for good.

During the meeting there was discussion about possibly expanding the area you can't place injection/disposal wells. Members of the Oil and Gas Commission say safety is their number one concern. Because as you'll recall, the ancient fault in the area known as the Greenbrier Guy Swarm was discovered soon after the injection wells were put in. So there could be other faults we don't know about that could be awakened, if there truly is a correlation.

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