UPDATE: State bans injection wells within 5 miles of Youngstown site


The Mahoning Valley ended 2011 with a deafening bang.

The new year promises to be more quiet.

After a 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck shortly after 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Ohio banned injection wells within five miles of a Youngstown brine-injection well suspected of causing 11 earthquakes this year.

“Public safety is paramount in our decision-making in this process. Our top concern is for the health and safety of our residents,” said Gov. John Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols.

Saturday’s temblor rattled residents from Cortland to Canton to Canfield.

It was felt to the northern border of Trumbull County, in the Shenango Valley in Pennsylvania, even as far as Buffalo, N.Y.

The earthquake was originally determined to be centered near Oregon and Florida avenues in McDonald, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

However, the epicenter was later revised to state Route 711 near the Mahoning River, near the D&L injection well.

It is the 11th quake in the Valley this year.

Andy Ware, deputy director at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said that Mike Hansen, state seismologist, was looking at the data Saturday.

Hansen said there could be more earthquakes as it could take days or weeks for the underground brine pressure to subside.

The quake shook up State Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, who renewed his call for a stop to drilling.

“I’m calling on the governor for an immediate moratorium on all drilling in the state of Ohio,” Hagan told The Vindicator Saturday. “This is just getting out of hand.

“You can’t have 11 earthquakes and just say it’s natural.”

Hagan was ironing his son’s shirt for his New Year’s Eve party when the quake struck.

“We thought somebody fell down the stairs with a dresser,” he said. “We ran out, looked around, and I said ‘That was an earthquake.’”

Mitchell Gold of the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismic Network from Columbia University, said the 4.0 earthquake had a preliminary depth of about 2.2 kilometers However, by about 8 p.m., the USGS had revised that figure to 5 km or 3.1 miles.

The quake came one day after the state ordered D&L Energy Inc. to shut down a brine-injection well in Youngstown.

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