Texas RRC monitoring quake activity near TImpson

Commissioner Wayne Christian said calls of concern coming into his office

Shelby County resident and Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian on Wednesday issued a statement concerning multiple calls his office has received about recent earthquakes in the Timpson area.

“Our staff is currently evaluating the inventory of wells near Timpson, reviewing all well status, injection volumes and pressures,” he said. The commission is also reviewing geology and faulting to determine what, if any, action needs to be taken by the agency, Christian said.

The second earthquake to shake the Timpson area in the past two weeks happed late Tuesday night, , according to the United States Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center.

“As an East Texan residing in Shelby County, I am aware of the situation and am monitoring it closely to ensure the Railroad Commission is doing what it can to keep the public safe,” he said in a letter released from his office.

He said the Railroad Commission is full of scientists who take the issue of induced seismic activity seriously. In 2014 the RRC put in place what he said are some of the most stringent rules in the nation on disposal wells, which are the type of wells some link to earthquake activity.

“Because of our enhanced rules, the vast majority of disposal well applications in recent years have been rejected, withdrawn or had special conditions placed upon them,” Christian said. “Our rules also allow us to shut down wells we believe to be causing seismic events.”

He said research on the cause of quakes which have possibly been induced has put Texas as the forefront nationally.

“In fact, last October the Environmental Protection Agency released a report which 'highly commends the RRC for its action to address' seismic activity in Texas,” he said. The EPA recognized changes made at the state level in permitting and operation requirements.

Christian said prior to 2014 disposal wells were inadequately regulated. When he was a Texas State Representative serving East Texas he proactively worked with the RRC to draft legislation “to reign in bad actors (mostly out of Louisiana) who were haphazardly dumping their wastewater in East Texas.”

Tuesday's quake was reported about 11:35 p.m about 0.6-mile southwest of Timpson and registered as a 2.5 magnitude earthquake.

On Sept. 4 the USGS center confirmed reports of an earthquake of a 3.2 magnitude about 4.3 miles northwest of Timpson about 10:06 a.m.

The epicenter was reportedly about 3.1 miles below the earth's surface, the center reported. The USGS reported the quake's center was about 16 miles from Carthage.