Five earthquakes rattle border region

A series of five earthquakes centered near the same remote area of West Texas rattled the region on Thursday.

The temblors registered between 3.0 and 5.0 Thursday starting around 4 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicenter was about 25 miles west of Mentone in Loving County on the border with New Mexico. The largest was a magnitude 5.0 about six hours later.

That quake could be felt as far as 150 miles away in El Paso in Texas and neighboring Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

“It felt like a truck going by, then you could hear a crack in the walls,” said Verta Sparks, a deputy clerk at the Loving County Sheriff’s Department. She said the department hadn’t gotten any calls for service.

No major damage or injuries were immediately reported in the sparsely populated area. Loving County has only about 100 residents but is full of truck traffic serving the oil drilling industry in the surrounding Permian Basin.

Geologists say thousands of earthquakes recorded in recent years have been linked to the underground injection of wastewater from oil and gas production.

— Associated Press


Removal of capsized cargo ship to continue

A federal judge ruled she will not halt removal of a capsized cargo ship along the Georgia coast while a salvage company that lost the job to a competitor sues the U.S. Coast Guard.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said an injunction delaying work to dismantle the South Korean freighter Golden Ray would be “averse to the public interest.” The ship with 4,200 cars still in its cargo decks has been beached off St. Simons Island since September. Experts concluded the wreck will have to be cut into pieces.

“As long as it remains in the Saint Simons Sound, this community’s waterways, coastline, and various important forms of marine life face an imminent environmental threat,” Wood said in her ruling Tuesday. “Time compounds that threat.”

The salvage firm Donjon-SMIT filed suit in February after the Coast Guard allowed the ship’s owner to replace the company with a competitor willing to remove the ship in larger chunks. By allowing the switch, the lawsuit said, the Coast Guard violated the 1990 Oil Pollution Act that requires shipowners to designate salvage responders in advance.

The Golden Ray overturned Sept. 5 soon after leaving the Port of Brunswick, about 70 miles south of Savannah. The ship’s 24 crew members were all successfully rescued.

— Associated Press