Report: Halliburton waste violations could warrant criminal investigation
Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection made public a $1.8 million settlement with Halliburton over 12 years of waste mismanagement at a site in Homer City, Indiana County.
The company — known for the so-called “Halliburton Loophole” that exempts hydraulic fracturing from federal oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act — racked up 255 violations involving storage, treatment and transportation of hydrochloric acid without permits from the DEP.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Halliburton was repeatedly violating a state exemption that allows companies to store small amounts of this acidic waste. The DEP told the Tribune-Review the company was storing ten times the regulated limit, and some believe the violations could warrant a criminal investigation.
More from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary XTO agreed to pay more than $20 million for a wastewater spill into the Susquehanna River basin, but most of that was for its own improvements. The fine was only $100,000 to the EPA.
XTO faced a criminal investigation and Halliburton should, too, said George Jugovic Jr., a Pittsburgh-based lawyer with the environmental group Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future. He led the southwest regional office of the DEP for several years while Halliburton did the work and said a criminal investigation is the only way to find out what the company knew and if it intentionally mischaracterized its waste.
The site was supposed to handle residual waste — not hazardous — bringing a much lower level of scrutiny, he said. The agency inspected the site about once a year, but it took an unusual tagalong from a waste management inspector to prompt the questions that led inspectors to find the violations in 2011, [DEP spokesman John] Poister said.
The company fixed the problems when they were told about them then, he added. Poister said he did not know whether the DEP referred the case to the state Attorney General’s Office.
“For this to go on this long, it’s evidence of a corporate culture that lacks concern for environmental compliance,” Jugovic said. “It’s just incredibly outrageous.”