State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has filed criminal charges against XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, for a 2010 gas drilling waste water spill in Lycoming County.
XTO says Tuesday that it will challenge the criminal charges, which the company calls baseless, unprecedented and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion.
Kane says that a grand jury recommended the charges for the spill of more than 50,000 gallons of toxic wastewater. XTO is charged with five counts under the Clean Streams Law and three counts under the Solid Waste Management Act.
As StateImpact Pennsylvania has reported, the federal Environmental Protection Agency recently fined XTO $100,000 for the incident, citing the company for violating the federal Clean Water Act:
The company’s drilling operations discharged between 6,300 and 57,373 gallons of waste water into the Susquehanna river system in Penn Township, Lycoming County. The waste water contained high levels of strontium, chloride, bromide, barium, and total dissolved solids and flowed continually for more than two months in the fall of 2010, according to the EPA.
An employee with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection discovered an open valve at a waste water storage tank during an inspection. The settlement, announced on Wednesday, also requires XTO to spend an estimated $20 million to improve its waste water disposal process …
Although XTO is not one of the top ten drillers in the state, it is one of the top ten violators, with nearly one violation per well. The most recent data available shows the company with 212 active wells, and a staggering 179 violations incurred by just 25 wells. The top offender is the Marquardt 8537H well, in Penn Township, which seems to be the site of this discharge.