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Checking Seismic Activity in Western Maryland Before Fracking Begins

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Scientists say they will begin monitoring seismic activity in western Maryland in preparation for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Maryland Geological Survey Director Richard Ortt tells The Baltimore Sun his agency plans to install a seismometer somewhere in Garrett or Allegany county by next June. A state moratorium on hydraulic fracturing ends in October 2017.

The device would measure underground rumblings like those attributed elsewhere to the disposal of wastewater from fracking.

The horizontal drilling process has not been directly linked to the increased earthquakes in other states. Rather, geologists blame the practice of injecting the chemical-laden wastewater deep underground to prevent surface water contamination.

Scientists say Maryland's geology is not considered suitable for those disposal wells, though there are many in neighboring West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Don Rush is the News Director at Delmarva Public Media. An award-winning journalist, Don reports major local issues of the day, from sea level rise, to urban development, to the changing demographics of Delmarva.