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In 1951, the US Army constructed Basin F at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to handle 243 million gallons of contaminated liquid chemical wastes in about a 93 acre area. In 1961, another way was chosen - by drilling a 12,000-foot deep well in the Rocky Mountains to inject napalm toxic waste into the earth's crust. From 1962 - 1966, 165 million gallons went in, likely triggering regional quakes and getting the Army to shut it down. According to seismologist Dave Wolney:
"If you are doing deep well injection, you are altering the stress on the underlying rocks and at some point, (it) will be relieved by generating an earthquake."
Klose also worries about carbon dioxide sequestration, a process of compressing CO2 from coal plants and injecting it into underground deposits. It, too, can generate quakes close to cities, as that's where facilities are located.
(3) Coal mining
Coal provides over half of America's electricity and an even larger percentage in China. Mines produce millions of tons annually, extract up to a dozen times as much water as coal, and cause huge regional mass changes. They, in turn, increase stress that can cause quakes as explained above. According to Klose, mining produces over half of recorded ones.
(4) Oil and gas drilling
A June 23, 2009 New York Times article headlined, "Deep in Bedrock, Clean Energy and Quake Fears," explaining that former oil man, Markus O. Haring, drilled a hole three miles down in Basel, Switzerland prospecting for clean, renewable energy, deep within the earth's bedrock. On December 8, 2006, an earthquake terrifyied residents who remembered the devastating one striking the city 650 years earlier.
Haring terminated his project, but a US start-up company, AltaRock Energy, uses the same technology to drill deep into quake-prone areas two hours' drive north of San Francisco for geothermal energy. The Energy Department backs it with more than $36 million, and several large venture capital firms are involved, despite the risk.
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