Oklahoma has been rocked by another large earthquake, this one centered about 53 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. According to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, the quake had a magnitude of 5.3 on the Richter scale and originated at a depth of 6.1 km, only 1.5 miles west of Kushing, and 16 miles southeast of Stillwater. The earthquake occurred at about 8:44 p.m. EST.
This earthquake marks the second significant quake in 24 hours, a 3.1 magnitude quake having struck near Perry earlier this afternoon.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, Oklahoma has recently become the nation’s most earthquake-prone state; a change that many are blaming on wastewater fracking. Oklahoma has suffered 138 earthquakes of magnitude 1.5 or greater in the past month alone, adding up to 2,199 over the past year — including its largest quake ever, one of 5.8 magnitude in September, which beat out its previous-strongest earthquake, a 5.6 magnitude shake also in September of this year.
Oklahoma is starting to look pretty unstable. And according to ABC News, oil regulars in the state are finally contemplating new restrictions before Oklahoma shakes itself apart. Scientists have concluded that the new series of earthquakes are definitively linked to underground disposal of wastewater from the oil and gas industry, and the corporate commission has already shut down some wastewater wells and ordered restrictions on others.
Unfortunately, as today’s multiple quakes indicate, it may be too late. But regulators are still hoping to head off a true disaster. Thus far, Oklahoma’s earthquakes have not been enough to cause any serious damage; the USGS is still showing a “green” status for damage and fatalities, but the quakes keep getting stronger.
Update: The USGS has now reclassified the earthquake as a 5.0 magnitude quake, which occurred at a depth of 5 km.
Update no. 2: According to ABC News, the Cushing Fire Department is reporting damage to numerous buildings, but no injuries have been reported. Cushing, population 7900, is home to the Cushing Tank Farm, said to be the world’s largest oil storage facility; fortunately, no leaks have been reported.
Another earthquake as close to Cushing as this one could have potentially catastrophic consequences. The Cushing Tank Farm, intended to be the end-point of the terminally-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, has a storage capacity well in excess of 100 million barrels – if even a fraction were to leak it could mark the largest oil spill in world history; one that would occur in the middle of America’s landmass.
As of March, 2016, the Cushing Tank Farm held over 65 million barrels of oil.
The Guardian reports that police were forced to evacuate numerous buildings – some major – due to gas leaks in the wake of the earthquake. The local high school has indicated that it will be closed on Monday.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesperson Matt Skinner issued a statement that the OCC was investigating the damage – particularly potential damage to oil pipelines heading to the Tank Farm.
“The OCC’s Pipeline Safety Department has been in contact with pipeline operators in the Cushing oil storage terminal under state jurisdiction and there have been no immediate reports of any problems. The assessment of the infrastructure continues.”
Meanwhile, according to the USGS, the number of significant earthquakes – magnitude 3.0 or greater – in Oklahoma has more than tripled since 2009.
[Featured Image by Dimas Ardian/Getty Images]