County govt halts shale exploitation after earthquakes

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/25 22:13:40

Armed police clear debris from a road in Rongxian county in Southwest Sichuan Province after two miner earthquakes occurred on Monday, killing two. Photo: VCG

Government of Rongxian county, Southwest China's Sichuan Province vowed to stop shale gas exploitation, after residents gathered outside a local government building claiming that shale exploitation is responsible for recent frequent earthquakes. 

Two earthquakes, measured  4.3-magitude and 4.9-magnitude  struck Rongxian county on Monday, killing two, the government announced. This sparked concerns among the public about whether the government's exploitation of shale gas triggered the earthquakes. 

"Some residents came this afternoon after the earthquake, and now they have calmed down and left. Government officials have responded to their requests," a public relations employee surnamed Yu at Rongxian county government told the Global Times on Monday. 

Yu said that those residents had gathered asking the government to stop the exploitation of shale gas.  

The Rongxian county deputy Party chief told local residents on Monday that the county would stop exploiting shale gas from Monday, Beijing News reported.

Video footage circulating on social media showed more than 1,000 people attempting to push over the electric gate of the government building with some 100 police in uniform trying to keep the gate upright. 

Since January, Rongxian county has been hit by five earthquakes, each of which was below 5.0 magnitude, according to the website of Sichuan Provincial Earthquake Administration.

An anonymous local resident told the Global Times on Monday that residents have shown strong opposition to the intensified shale gas exploitation in recent years, and claimed that the exploitation has caused frequent earthquakes that they had seldom experienced in past years. 

Local residents also went online to complain in 2018. Zigong Earthquake Administration responded to a netizen's complaint in November 2018 that, "It needs further scientific studies on whether the recent earthquakes are related to the exploitation of shale gas, as the world is still unclear about the geophysical change process that occur during earthquakes."

Shale gas demonstration areas in Sichuan including Rongxian, have estimated shale gas reserves of 5.18 trillion cubic meters as of 2016, according to zgm.cn, a local news site. 

The shale gas-rich Sichuan Basin in southwest China produced about one-third of the country's total shale gas in 2017, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 


Newspaper headline: Rongxian county halts shale exploitation after earthquakes, public anger


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