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(Image courtesy of XTO Energy Inc.)

On Thursday Pennsylvania District Judge James G. Carn ruled that criminal charges against XTO Energy Inc., a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, will go to court.

XTO is charged with illegally discharging approximately 50,000 gallons of wastewater at one of its well pads from a Marcellus Shale gas well site.

Vandalism is the suspected cause of the spill, however according to Chief Deputy Attorney General Glenn A. Parno, XTO did not take reasonable measures to safeguard the site from others.

The well site was unmanned and there were no security cameras or perimeter fence.

XTO also never filed a complaint with state police after the vandalism incident was discovered.

The fluid containing barium, strontium, chlorides and total dissolved solids have been seeping into an unnamed tributary of Sugar Run.

XTO has argued the prosecution did not show criminal negligence or cite any regulatory requirement for specific security measures.

“Just because the commonwealth after the fact can brainstorm additional measures XTO might possibly have taken does not mean that XTO was criminally negligent for not having taken them,” The company released in a statement.