Something's shaking in Love County — the ground.
During recent weeks, residents of Love County have heard numerous "booms" and felt what's beneath their feet move.
While earthquakes in Oklahoma aren't normally felt, nor are they very common, residents wanted to voice their opinion on what they might think is the culprit behind the quakes. They also wanted some answers.
Thursday evening, more than 120 concerned residents met with Austin Hull of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, as well as with area political figures, including Sen. Frank Simpson.
"People weren't necessarily angry," Simpson said. "Some did have some concerns, but most just wanted some questions answered. I think the meeting was very helpful for them."
Hull discussed with the group that, while the state isn't known for its seismic activity, it does occur, and fairly frequently. Hull had been collecting data for the two weeks prior to the meeting to try to determine the cause and location of the earthquakes. His findings were "curious," to say the least.
Most of the activity is centered around a recently installed saltwater disposal well at the intersection of U.S. Highway 77 and Oswalt Road. Since the quakes, the corporation commission limited the well to 10,000 barrels per day, but the operator decided to shut down, as it was not profitable enough to keep it running given the current circumstances.
"Hull was hesitant to draw a direct connection between the well and the earthquakes," Simpson explained. "It is somewhat of a coincidence that the earthquakes have happened right around that drill, and I know the well owner. He is concerned about the community, and if it turns out that his well is causing this, I'm sure he'll do the right thing."
Simpson said the well had been protested when it was approved, but not for earthquakes. Many area residents who live in the area didn't want it near their home.
But since the earthquakes have begun, citizens say they have a new reason to not want the well near their homes.
"One gentleman said, 'I've lived here for 30 years, and I have never felt an earthquake until that well went into operation'," Simpson said. "Several people felt that the corporation commission had permitted the well without fully determining its impact on the area."
But Charles Lord, manager of the injection control program with the corporation commission, shared information on the process they use for locating and permitting disposal wells. He assured citizens that the proper channels and qualifications were approved. However, he did admit that the agency is still trying to refine its process for permitting disposal wells and determining their impact.
"It is a concern, I think," Simpson said. "There was some damage with these earthquakes. A chimney collapsed. One family said their TV fell from the wall and landed only a foot or two from hitting their child.
"Many of these people don't have earthquake insurance, because this is Oklahoma — we don't have damaging earthquakes here. The damage here was minor, but damage nonetheless."
Simpson said Thursday's meeting was informative and answered a lot of questions people had about seismic activity in Love County, but didn't provide a solution to the problem. Many people still had some concerns regarding the well, but until further information is gathered, no answer can be found.
"Hull mentioned a lack of monitoring equipment south of the Arbuckles," Simpson said. "He wants to put more equipment in Love County and see if we can find an answer for the concerns of Love County residents."