Fort Worth-based XTO Energy has been fined $2.3 million for violating the Clean Water Act related to its drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia, two federal agencies said Monday.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department said XTO, a subsidiary of Irving-based Exxon Mobil, will also spend $3 million to restore eight sites damaged by unauthorized discharges of fill materials into streams and wetlands related to hydraulic fracturing, the agencies said.
XTO violated the Clean Water Act when it failed to obtain an Army Corps of Engineers permit to build well pads, road crossings, freshwater pits and other facilities related to the drilling. The state of West Virginia will receive half of the $2.3 million civil penalty.
The eight sites are in Harrison, Marion and Upshur counties in West Virginia, and total a mile of streams and nearly 3.4 acres of wetlands.
XTO has agreed to restore the wetlands and streams wherever feasible, monitor the restored sites to assure the success of the restoration, and implement a comprehensive compliance program to ensure future compliance with the Clean Water Act and applicable state law. The violations began in 2011.
“This case will help to protect clean water in West Virginia, and support a level playing field for energy developers that play by the rules,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of the EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement.
XTO issued a statement saying it worked “in a cooperative and constructive manner” with the federal and West Virginia agencies.
“We have been and are continuing to work expeditiously on the restoration of impacted areas. Our priority is, and will remain, to protect the environment and wildlife in areas in which we operate,” the statement said.
West Virginia and the Army Corps discovered the violations during routine joint inspections. The company also voluntarily disclosed potential violations at five of the sites after an internal audit, the agencies said.
In 2013, XTO also faced Clean Water Act violations related to the discharge of wastewater in Lycoming County, Pa., also in the Marcellus Shale.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727