Residents file class-action suit over man-made earthquakes

Sandstone bricks from the side of the historic Pawnee County Bank litter the sidewalk after an early morning earthquake in Pawnee, Oka., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. (Paul Hellstern/The Oklahoman via AP)
Sandstone bricks from the side of the historic Pawnee County Bank litter the sidewalk after an early morning earthquake in Pawnee, Oka., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. (Paul Hellstern/The Oklahoman via AP)

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Residents of the town hit by Oklahoma’s worst earthquake have filed a class-action lawsuit against dozens of energy companies, accusing them of triggering dozens of temblors by injecting wastewater from oil and gas production underground.

Pawnee residents filed the suit Thursday against at least 27 companies, saying they operate wastewater injection wells even though they know the method causes earthquakes. The lawsuit seeks an unidentified amount for property damage and devaluation, plus emotional distress.

Grocery store employee Talia Pershall placed bottles of syrup back on a shelf on Saturday at White’s Foodliner in Pawnee, Okla., after an earthquake. (Credit David Bitton/The News Press, via Associated Press)
Grocery store employee Talia Pershall placed bottles of syrup back on a shelf on Saturday at White’s Foodliner in Pawnee, Okla., after an earthquake. (Credit David Bitton/The News Press, via Associated Press)

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Pawnee in September. The lawsuit claims 52 more have hit the area since.

Oklahoma has had thousands of earthquakes in recent years. Nearly all have been traced to underground wastewater disposal.

Regulators have asked oil and gas producers to either close injection wells or reduce the volume of fluids they inject.

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