Court denies driller's request for more information in spill case

  • Marie Cusick

A judge in Lycoming County has denied a request by ExxonMobil subsidiary, XTO Energy, seeking more information on criminal charges the company faces over a 2010 spill.
Last summer, the federal Environmental Protection Agency fined XTO $100,000 for the incident, which involved approximately 50,000 gallons of waste water being discharged into the Susquehanna River 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.
XTO originally claimed the spill was an act of vandalism, but later said it was likely caused by a contract worker. Last September, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed criminal charges.
Earlier this year the company filed a request for a bill of particulars– essentially more detailed information about the charges it faces. 

On Thursday Lycoming County Judge Marc Lovecchio denied the request, noting that the company has already received transcripts of grand jury testimony and thousands of pages of discovery.
“The Commonwealth has provided XTO with ample notice of the charges against it, and XTO has sufficient information to prepare a defense,” Lovecchio wrote. “While environmental cases can sometimes be complex, several aspects of this case are not as complicated at XTO is making them to be.”
Kane’s office declined to comment on the case.
“XTO believes the Commonwealth should be required to state its vague and unprecedented allegations more precisely; however we look forward to presenting our full defense at trial,” XTO spokeswoman Suann Lundsberg wrote in an email.
A trial date has not been scheduled yet.

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