Concerned Residents: Earthquakes Can’t be Coincidence

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio—Angry over earthquakes, hundreds of concerned residents attended a meeting in Youngstown. They were looking for answers about a series of tremors that have rattled northeast Ohio in recent months.

Wednesday night, so many people showed up for a city council sub-committee meeting about the earthquakes, that it was held on the floor of the multi-purpose Covelli Center.

"This is our garage floor, it's dropped about at least two inches," explained Cathy McCombs as she held pictures of her damaged garage.

McCombs lives in Mineral Ridge, about a mile from the epicenter of the latest quake on New Year's Eve. She attended the meeting to find out how she can get the damage to her home fixed.

"There is no way of reporting the damage when this is not covered by most insurance policies and even people who have earthquake insurance have such a high deductible, like, for instance, ours is 15-thousand dollars," she said.

City leaders and representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and other agencies answered questions about the quakes and what could be causing them.

Some believe they are caused by brine, a waste mixture that's injected into the earth during the process of drilling for natural gas.

"Right now we don't know, we don't know factually. We're evaluating data, including data that we've just downloaded to evaluate if that correlation is direct," said Rick Simmers.

Simmers is the chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

"We started out 1.9, it moved up to 2.7 and then we ended up on New Year's Eve with a 4.3. Will the next one be 5-point, will it devastate my area that I represent?" said State Representative Bob Hagan.

Earthquakes are reported all across Ohio, but many people in Youngstown feel that nearly a dozen in less than a year can't be coincidence.

"It has been the talk of Youngstown and a lot of residents are very concerned about it," said Youngstown resident Glenda House.

"We need to build up Youngstown, but we need to build it up safely and that's why I'm here tonight to find out if this is safe. Why are we having earthquakes and to stop it if it's not safe," said Youngstown resident Rose Wilkins.

Brine injection at the well that is in question has been stopped until investigators can determine whether it is responsible for the earthquakes.

ODNR officials say it could be weeks, if not months, to determine if there is a connection