Topeka The Kansas Corporation Commission issued an order Thursday aimed at reducing the risk of earthquakes in portions of south-central Kansas.
The order directs drilling companies to reduce the amount of saltwater waste they dispose into injection wells in portions of Harper and Sumner counties. Saltwater disposed of in injection wells is a byproduct of a controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."
The Kansas Geological Survey has said that some of those injection wells appear to be located near a fault line deep below the surface, and the increased pressure created by the injection of that waste water may be the cause of increased seismic activity in the area.
The order applies to five areas within a region known as the Arbuckle formation that stretches across much of central Kansas and Oklahoma.
"The wells impacted by today’s action represent only a small fraction of the total active Arbuckle injection wells," the KCC said in a statement released late Thursday. "Arbuckle injection currently occurs in many areas throughout Kansas without any recorded seismic activity."
The order directs well operators in these five areas to limit their injection wells to 16,000 barrels of saltwater per day within 10 days of the order; to 12,000 barrels per day within 55 days; to 8,000 barrels per day within 100 days, for a total reduction of up to 60 percent, the KCC said.