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XTO to pay $400,000 to settle Pennsylvania toxic waste charges

AP

XTO Energy has agreed to pay $400,000 to settle allegations in Pennsylvania that it illegally dumped toxic wastewater from a Marcellus Shale well site.

According to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, XTO agreed to pay a $300,000 civil penalty to the state Department of Environmental Protection and $100,000 to the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership to advance environmental projects in Lycoming County.

“This settlement will result in additional oversight over a company that was allegedly responsible for discharging thousands of gallons of fracking wastewater into the environment,” Kane said in news release Thursday. “This is an important step toward accountability.”

In a statement, XTO said the company settled the case “with no admission of liability.”

“Our priority is to ensure the safety of the community, our employees and contractors as well as protect the environment and wildlife,” the company said.

The case involved a spill in November 2010 of wastewater used in drilling that escaped through an open valve of a storage tank. In 2013, XTO reached an agreement with the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, agreeing to pay a $100,000 fine and spend $20 million on a plan to reform its wastewater management practices. XTO is a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil.

Later in 2013, the state filed criminal charges against XTO, bringing five counts under the Clean Streams Law and three counts under the Solid Waste Management Act.

The settlement announced Thursday will resolve the criminal case through the state’s accelerated rehabilitative disposition program. The court will continue supervision for two years, or until the expiration of the federal consent decree, XTO spokeswoman Suann Guthrie said, after which the charges will be dismissed and expunged.

Kane’s office says the grand jury found that thousands of gallons of fracking wastewater was unaccounted for and that some polluted a nearby tributary. The grand jury found that XTO did not have a permit to discharge wastewater at the Marquardt site and failed to report wastewater spills to the Department of Environmental Protection, the state said.

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko

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