First it was vandals. Now it is a negligent contractor. The shifting explanation comes from XTO, as to how on earth several tanks discharged thousands of gallons of drilling wastewater into Pennsylvania's environment in Hughesville, Lycoming county. The case began in 2010, when an inspector from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection found tanks spilling wastewater, and I asked the matter be referred to the Attorney General's office for its review.
XTO's blame shifting may or may not matter in the criminal case brought by Attorney General Kane. Regardless of the impact on the criminal case, XTO's shifting of the blame to the contractor is disappointing and will further erode public confidence.
Simply put, even if the fault lies with the contractor, who hired the contractor? XTO of course. And companies that receive drilling permits from Pennsylvania must be held accountable for the actions of their contractors.
To not hold accountable drilling permit holders for the actions of their numerous contractors would gut Pennsylvania's gas drilling regulations and environmental laws. By holding drillers accountable for the actions of those with whom they contract, drillers will have a strong incentive to make sure that those with whom they do business understand the rules and follow the law.
Andrew Maykuth and Donald Gillihand have done good reporting on the XTO criminal spill case:
Both articles are good reads with important details.