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Greeley Injection Well Possibly Linked To Quakes, Regulators Require Changes

William Ellsworth
Trucks delivering waste water to an injection well in Platteville, Colo. The site pictured is not involved in any current seismic activity.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is requiring operators of a Weld County injection well to alter how wastewater is disposed of in that well, saying they believe the well may be linked to recent earthquakes in the area.

The Greeley area experienced a 3.2 magnitude earthquake May 31. After that quake, researchers from the University of Colorado put out monitors for additional activity. Regulators halted injection at the well June 23, saying they wanted to take 20 days to study whether wastewater injection at the site was linked to the earthquakes. Class II injection wells, which often accept wastewater from oil and gas activity, have been linked with earthquakes in a number of states, including Ohio and Oklahoma.

On July 21, the COGCC will allow the well owner, NGL Water Solutions DJ LLC, to resume injections at the site, but at lower pressures and lower volumes. The area will continue to be monitored for seismic activity.

“We are proceeding with great care, and will be tracking activities at this site closely,” said Matt Lepore, director of the COGCC.

"Continued use of the injection well will be reviewed and may be halted if seismic events within a 2.5-mile radius of the well occur at or above a magnitude of 2.5 – the U.S. Geological Survey’s default threshold for displaying seismic events," the COGCC press release reads.

It's also possible the well owner was injecting at higher volumes than was permitted at the well. The agency is continuing to investigate this issue, and if the company is found in violation of its permit, it could be fined.

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