NEW YORK, Sept 11 An Exxon Mobil Corp
subsidiary is being charged by the Pennsylvania attorney general
for spilling more than 50,000 gallons of wastewater at a natural
gas well site in 2010.
XTO Energy Inc, which was acquired by Exxon in
2010, is charged for spilling chemical-laced wastewater from a
storage tank and into a local waterway, according to a statement
from the Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Tuesday.
State environmental inspectors found the water leaking from
an open valve on a tank at an XTO water recycling plant in Penn
Authorities later found pollutants from the chemically
treated water, including chlorides, barium, strontium and total
dissolved solids, in a tributary of the Susquehanna River basin.
XTO is charged with five counts of unlawful conduct under
the Clean Streams Law and three counts of unlawful conduct under
the Solid Waste Management Act.
XTO was already fined $100,000 for the spill by the
Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department in
July, which the company said was fair, but XTO plans to contest
the latest criminal charges.
"Criminal charges are unprecedented, baseless and an abuse
of prosecutorial discretion," XTO said in a statement on its
website. "The incident did not result in significant or lasting
Wastewater is a by-product of hydraulic fracturing, known as
fracking, which involves pumping millions of gallons of water,
sand and chemicals deep underground to fracture shale rock and
release oil and gas. Much of the water returns to the surface
after fracking is complete, and is often placed in holding tanks
The chemicals used in fracking have spurred a national
debate about the dangers of the process which has unlocked huge
amounts of oil and gas from U.S. shale rock over the past
U.S. gas production is at record highs and oil output is at
its highest levels since the 1980s.
Pennsylvania, which sits atop the Marcellus shale formation,
is at the heart of the U.S. fracking boom. Production there has
rocketed since 2005, but the state has also experienced a number
of drilling accidents and spills.