‘Significant damage’ in key US oil hub Cushing after 5.0 quake shakes central Oklahoma

© earthquake.usgs.gov
A 5.0-magnitude earthquake struck some 2km west of the town of Cushing, Oklahoma, causing serious structural damage to downtown area and power outages. The town is a major hub in US oil supply with its 13 pipelines pumping millions of barrels a day.

READ MORE: ‘Walls shaking’: 4.5 quake strikes Tulsa, Oklahoma

The quake struck some at a depth of just 5km, US Geological Survey reported, revising the magnitude from 5.3 to 5.0.

Despite being a moderate tremor on the Richter scale, the shallow quake resulted in several buildings partly collapsing, also causing a power outage.

There was “quite of bit of damage” from the quake, the Cushing Police Department reported, as cited by AP. There was no immediate information on possible casualties or the number of buildings damaged.

Cushing Fire Department estimated the damage caused by the quake to the town center as “significant.”

A housing development accommodating senior citizens in the town sustained serious damage, according to the state’s emergency management office, News 9 reported.

Speaking at a briefing, local officials did not rule out aftershocks that could result in even more damage, adding that earthquakes have become “normal” events in Cushing.

At the moment, nothing is known about the possible damage to oil terminals, unless it has not been “disclosed,” they said, News 9’s Grant Hermes reported. 

All schools in Cushing will be closed for November 7 to carry out damage assessment and ensure the safety of students, Cushing Public School District confirmed.   

Local authorities have reportedly shut down several disposal wells and reduced the amount of wastewater flow in others.

With a population of under 8,000, Cushing is home to a large oil storage, which, according to AP, is touted as “world’s largest.” The town has been branded the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World.”

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), together with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, have been assessing the impact of the quake on the state’s oil infrastructure.

The Commission has “been in contact with pipeline operators in the Cushing oil storage terminal under state jurisdiction and there have been no immediate reports of any problems,” it said in a statement.

Oklahoma has recently seen a sudden increase in the number of quakes, with the latest 4.5-magnitude tremor centering near the city of Pawnee and strongly felt in Tulsa on November 2.

The seismic activity has been linked by some to the practice known as fracking, or in particular, to the disposal of underground wastewater in the course of oil and gas production. The strong 5.6 quake in September has triggered lawmakers and activists to call for restrictions on fracking in the area.

The Pawnee Nation in October announced plans to take a list of energy companies to court, while the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has promised to come up with a response, and state regulators were considering some restriction on oil and gas activities.