All criminal charges brought by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane against ExxonMobile subsidiary XTO Energy will go to court.
In July, the federal Environmental Protection Agency fined XTO $100,000 for a 2010 spill which involved discharging approximately 50,000 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.
Kane filed criminal charges over the incident in September.
XTO initially believed the spill was caused by vandalism, but now says the likely explanation is the work of an independent contractor.
District Judge James G. Carn Thursday found the state attorney general’s office had presented sufficient evidence against XTO Energy Inc. of Fort Worth to support alleged violations of the state’s clean streams and solid waste laws.
Carn, who did not issue a written opinion, had deferred a ruling after the Dec. 18 preliminary hearing so he could obtain input from a law clerk for a county judge on strict liability that is the basis of the three solid waste charges.
“We are gratified the judge found merit in all of our charges as part of Attorney General (Kathleen G.) Kane’s effort to protect the environment and maintain a pro-business level playing field for all companies that adhere to the law and their business/environmental responsibilities,” said Joe Peters, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.
“The decision was not unexpected given the Commonwealth’s low burden in this preliminary hearing,” wrote XTO spokeswoman Suann Lundsberg in an email to StateImpact Pennsylvania.
“We look forward to presenting our full defense at trial and we are confident that the evidence will show that XTO did not cause the spill.”