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Exxon Charged with Illegally Dumping Fracking Waste in Pennsylvania

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Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), the world's largest energy company, was charged with illegally dumping more than 50,000 gallons (189,000 liters) of wastewater at a shale-gas drilling site in Pennsylvania.

Exxon unit XTO Energy Inc. discharged the water from waste tanks at the Marquandt well site in Lycoming County in 2010, according to a statement on the website of Pennsylvania's attorney general. The pollution was found during an unannounced visit by the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

The inspectors discovered a plug removed from a tank, allowing the wastewater to run onto the ground, polluting a nearby stream. XTO was ordered to remove 3,000 tons of soil to clean up the area. Wastewater discharged from natural-gas wells can contain chlorides, barium, strontium and aluminum, the attorney general's statement showed.

"Criminal charges are unwarranted and legally baseless," the XTO unit said yesterday in a statement posted on its website. "There was no intentional, reckless or negligent misconduct by XTO."

Pennsylvania has become one of the biggest gas-producing states in the past five years as explorers drill the Marcellus shale, a rock formation stretching across the northeast U.S. that holds 24 percent of the nation's shale gas reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. Exxon agreed to buy XTO in 2009 for $34.9 billion.

XTO was charged with five counts of unlawful conduct under the Clean Streams Law and three counts under the Solid Waste Management Act.    


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