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Exxon Mobil Subsidiary Accused of Dumping Toxic Fracking Wastewater in Pennsylvania

Sep 12, 2013

A subsidiary of Exxon Mobil has been charged with illegally dumping wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) wells at one site in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, announced in a statement this week that XTO Energy Inc., a Pennsylvania-based subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, dumped at least 50,000 gallons of toxic fracking wastewater at one drilling well site in Lycoming County, in the state’s northeast.

The well site in question is known as the Marquardt. It has two natural gas fracking wells there. From Nov. 4 to 11, 2010, XTO Energy hired a company to recycle wastewater stored on the site in a 21,000-gallon tank. However, after only a week, the company was ordered to take its equipment to another fracking site, in West Virginia. This removed XTO Energy’s ability to properly store the fracking wastewater at Marquardt, Kane noted in her statement regarding the charges.

Inspectors with Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection arrived unannounced at Marquardt and noted that fracking wastewater had been dumped at the site; the department also found evidence of pollution in a nearby stream. Kane took her case to a grand jury to file charges against XTO.

Her statement reads: “According to the grand jury, during that visit a DEP inspector discovered that a rear discharge valve on a storage tank had been opened and a drain plug had been removed, causing gas well wastewater to flow out of the storage tank onto the ground. There also was evidence of prior wastewater discharges from other storage tanks at the Marquardt site.”

Pennsylvania’s DEP said that it had to remove more than 3,000 tons of soil from the site because it was contaminated with toxic substances like chlorides, barium, strontium, and aluminum. “According to the grand jury, XTO did not have a permit to discharge wastewater at the Marquardt site and failed to report any wastewater spills to DEP as required by law,” the statement announcing the charges reads.

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