Earthquake concerns: Some Trumbull County residents warned to be prepared

WEATHERSFIELD TWP., Ohio -- Northeast Ohio is not generally known for seismic activity, so it might surprise you that some people are being warned about the possibility that an earthquake will hit in the near future.

Some of the recent quakes have been blamed on so-called injection wells.

Many homes in Mineral Ridge and the surrounding area of Trumbull County's Weathersfield Township are built on top of tapped-out coal mines and are sinking as old support beams in the mines start to give way -- so reinforced walls are common.

Over the decades, the state and federal government have attempted to shore up the land that sits on top of the mines.

"You're standing on land that's filled with concrete or you wouldn't be standing here; it's 12 foot down, you hit the mines," said Marvin McBride, township trustee.

Fear that homes will eventually sink into the mines below escalated in recent years when a series of earthquakes hit the surrounding area.

Many residents believe the earthquakes were triggered by injection wells that were used to dispose of wastewater from the fracking industry.

"We didn't have any earthquakes around here. I lived here for 50 some years; we didn't have any. Then we had one when they put it in. They stopped it; they closed it for awhile; we haven't had one since."

There are now renewed concerns in Trumbull County about earthquakes because the operators of the injection well, which was shut down in 2014 by the State of Ohio because of a prior earthquake, are now asking the court system to allow them to reopen the well.

Weathersfield Township trustees are now warning residents to be prepared for earthquakes if the site begins disposing of wastewater again.

Among other things, homeowners are being advised to take detailed photos of their homes.

"So that whenever it does happen, you at least have something to show that your home was damaged. Right now, we don't have, most of the people have insurance, homeowners doesn't cover earthquakes," said McBride.

Police and fire officials in Trumbull County are also being warned about potential earthquakes if the well is allowed to reopen. They would like to make sure they are ready with emergency plans if one hits the region.