For more information contact: Linda Berry, (785) 271-3269 or Samir Arif, (785) 271-3188
September 8, 2015
Kansas Corporation Commission Staff Recommends Further Study on Seismicity
Anthony, KS - Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) staff reported today to the Harper County Commission that the number of "felt" earthquakes in Harper and Sumner County has decreased since the Commission took action in late March 2015, while also stating that further study is necessary. KCC staff stressed that although the results are only preliminary, the data are encouraging.
KCC staff recommends that the KCC continue existing limits to the amount of wastewater disposal in Harper and Sumner Counties, allowing further study of seismic activity and its relationship to large-volume disposal wells. Staff anticipates that the KCC will formally review this matter in mid-September.
In March 2015, at the recommendation of KCC staff, the KCC issued an order setting wastewater-disposal volume limits for Harper and Sumner County. The order also gradually reduced the amount of wastewater disposal allowed at individual wells in five areas with the largest clustering of seismic events, and required operators to verify the true vertical depth of disposal wells in the five areas.
In 2014, in response to increased seismic activity around Harper County, Governor Brownback appointed a task force consisting of members from the Kansas Geological Survey, Kansas Corporation Commission, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to study the issue. The task force made a recommendation for increased monitoring efforts and created a response plan.
The KCC provided funding to the Kansas Geological Survey to purchase seismic monitoring equipment, enabling researchers to gather more precise seismic data. Preliminary results indicate that "un-felt" earthquakes —below M 2.5—have increased, but that "felt" earthquakes have decreased. The results suggest that seismic energy is being released in smaller events, which may mitigate the risk of larger, more destructive earthquakes.