Is Your Oklahoma Property Being Damaged by Earthquakes?
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Oklahoma has become a hotbed of seismic activity registering thousands of earthquakes. In fact, in 2015 the U.S. Geological Survey at Oklahoma University reported that the number of earthquakes registering a magnitude of 3.0 or higher occurring in the state jumped from about one per year to an average of 2.5 per day, a rate that’s 600-times the historical average. The victims of these induced earthquakes are the property owners whose homes and businesses are damaged and destroyed by large quakes, repeated small temblors, and the countless aftershocks.
If your home or property has sustained damage from fracking earthquakes, you have rights, and we defend those rights. Contact us today to learn more about property owner rights and whether you are eligible for significant compensation for your fracking earthquake damage.
Homes affected by induced earthquakes are buckling, sinking, cracking, and splitting as the rate of damaging tremblors spiked to more than 600 times the historical average. Damages often seen after a quake include:
- Broken or cracked exterior and interior walls
- Cabinets separated from walls
- Cracked drywall
- Damaged door and window trim
- Damaged doors and door casing
- Damaged bricks, mortar joints, and fascia
- Lost value due to pollution
- Movement or cracking of the foundation
Unfortunately, only about 15 percent of Oklahoma property owners are covered by earthquake insurance, and even more unfortunate, only a few insurance providers have policies that cover man-made earthquake damage. Those policies that do cover induced earthquake damage claims typically have deductibles that are either based on a percentage of the insured value of the property or are applied to individual seismic events, which can push the cost beyond the reach of many.
If your home has been damaged by induced earthquakes and their aftershocks, you may be eligible for significant compensation. Contact us today to learn more about your rights, including your right to seek justice.
Disposal Pressure, Depth, and Volume Are Critical
Researchers dug into the cause of the swarms of Oklahoma earthquakes and determined that most are caused by fracking wastewater disposal. Oil and gas companies inject enormous amounts of wastewater into wells that go thousands of feet down into the earth.
Basically, fracking creates billions of gallons of wastewater. This wastewater is disposed of by injecting it under extreme pressure into wells dug deep into the earth. The sheer volume of wastewater and the pressure under which it is injected can cause the sublayers of the earth to shift and trigger activity in active, inactive, and unknown underground faults. There are more than 10 thousand injection wells in Oklahoma in which 96 billion gallons of wastewater is injected every year.
Researchers have published data showing that pressure, depth, and volume are critical in reducing quakes. A new study proposes that limiting the injection of waste to a depth of 1500 feet or less of what is called the geologic basement, e.g., the hard rock deep within the earth that is typically comprised of igneous and metamorphic rock. The state is crisscrossed with fault lines and quakes are likely to be triggered the closer the well is to a fault. Previously, scientists believed that reducing the amount of wastewater injected into wells would reduce quakes, but new research shows that where the waste is disposed of is equally, if not more important.
Yet, Oklahoma remains a hotbed and the people who live there face a greater chance of suffering a damaging earthquake than anyone else in the country. Though earthquakes do occur in California in greater frequency than elsewhere in the country, these are natural earthquakes, not swarms of induced-earthquakes. As much as we know about fracking quakes, they continue to occur at an alarming rate.
Quakes Continue Despite Increased Regulations
Regulations have been put in place to reduce seismic activity by reducing the amount of waste being injected into wells and decreasing the depth of drilled wells. And while new regulations have led to a reduction in seismic activity, it has not dropped as much as expected. And, the Pawnee earthquake that registered magnitude 5.8 on the Richter Scale occurred after these regulations were put in place.
In April 2018, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered a saltwater disposal well operator to discontinue operations at the well near Hennessey after a 3.2 magnitude earthquake struck, one of a string of strong quakes that were centered in an area just south of the town. The Commission also directed 15 other saltwater disposal well operators to limit injection activities near Enid to further reduce tremblors.
Yet the quakes continue. In fact, the 4.6 magnitude earthquake that hit Perry, Oklahoma in April 2018 is the biggest of the year. It was followed by a 4.1 magnitude quake in Caldwell, Kansas, a 3.4 magnitude quake in Pawnee, and a 3.0 magnitude tremblor in Stillwater. Though more than a thousand quakes have occurred in Oklahoma over the past year, only those that register 3.0 or greater are typically felt by humans and cause damage. Many of the property owners who are experiencing earthquake-related damage, including repeat damage from continuing tremblors are concerned about their futures, including how they will sell a damaged home, or how they will continue to live in a home that poses dangers to their families.
Property Owners Are Fighting Back
In 2011, an earthquake registering 5.0 on the Richter scale occurred near Prague, Oklahoma causing wide-spread damage. One property owner filed a lawsuit after suffering serious injury when her chimney crumbled down on top of her. It was her case that led to the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision that property owners can sue oil and gas companies for compensation.
Because of that decision, property owners across Oklahoma are seeking justice and significant compensation for their damages, injuries, and losses. Some property owners are also asking the courts to order these energy companies to pay the insurance deductibles for the earthquake damage claims they had to file.
Tremblors and the stigma related to them have lowered the value of properties across the state, leaving homeowners with dangerous homes that can’t be sold. These property owners say they are trapped in homes that aren’t safe to live in and they are victims of oil company greed.
Some property owners are asking when the energy companies knew about the association between wastewater disposal and earthquakes, and why they were never warned that their property could be damaged. The fact is, in 2013 the Environmental Protection Agency published a report that included dozens of pages of studies of fracking-induced earthquakes some going back decades. The Oklahoma Geological Survey also drafted best practices that could help oil and gas companies reduce the number of earthquakes triggered, but the recommendations were never published.
Induced Earthquake Lawsuits
Property owners across the state are filing lawsuits against oil and gas companies alleging property damage from earthquakes caused by wastewater disposal. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits say that the fracking companies did not warn communities about the increased risks of induced earthquakes associated with wastewater injection deep into wells in the earth.
Some of these plaintiffs say that gas and oil companies have a duty to public care, but they have breached that duty by continuing to engage in ultra-hazardous activities – activities they allege pose severe danger to home and business owners and their inhabitants and employees.
These property owners are seeking justice and compensation for homes and commercial properties that are cracking, buckling, splitting and sinking, leaving owners with cracked and broken interior and exterior walls, damaged mortar, bricks, and fascia, and cracked foundations. They want their homes back and some want the energy companies to cover their out-of-pocket expenses, including their insurance deductibles.
We Help Oklahoma Earthquake Victims
Some homeowners are concerned that if they bring a lawsuit and lose their case, they will have to pay for both theirs and the defendant’s legal costs, something that they just can’t afford. But that is why we do things differently. Money should never stand between you and justice, so we don’t let it. When we take a case, we shoulder the financial costs, not you. And we don’t get paid unless you get paid. Period.
If your residential or commercial property was damaged or destroyed due to earthquakes induced by fracking wastewater disposal, contact us today. You have rights, and for decades we have fought for the rights of property owners across the country who suffer damage or destruction due to the dangerous processes used by energy companies.
Contact us today to learn more about property owner rights and whether you are eligible to seek significant financial compensation for your damages and losses.