Attorney General Files Criminal Charges Against Natural Gas Pipline Company From Ohio
An Ohio business that operates a natural gas pipeline in northwestern Pennsylvania has been charged with illegally discharging oil and other waste in Mercer County.
Attorney General Tom Corbett said agents from the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Section filed criminal charges against Energy Exploration & Development LLC (formerly known as Energy Exploration, Inc.), 2202 Niles-Cortland Road NE, Cortland, Ohio.
Corbett said that between July and August 2009, oil and brine water was allegedly discharged from a section of pipeline located along State Route 358 in West Salem Township, Mercer County, staining a 30 foot area of soil and vegetation near an abandoned gas well site.
“Pennsylvania’s environmental laws exist to safeguard our natural resources and protect our citizens,” Corbett said. “Businesses have a responsibility and obligation to take proper steps to ensure that the environment is not harmed by their activity.”
The discovery of the polluted area by Department of Environmental Protection pipeline inspectors resulted in a referral by Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems to the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Section.
According to the criminal complaint, records from the Department of Environmental Protection indicated that no permit had been issued to Energy Exploration & Development allowing the dumping or disposal of waste at that location.
Additionally, DEP records indicate that the company had received Notices of Violation in July 2008 and July 2009 for allegedly failing to install measures to prevent pollution from occurring along the pipeline.
Energy Exploration & Development is charged with violating Pennsylvania’s Oil and Gas Act and Solid Waste Management Act, including one count of dumping waste without DEP permit, a third-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 to $2,500 per day, along with one count of failing to properly maintain a natural gas pipeline, an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.
Criminal charges were filed before Greenville Magisterial District Judge Brian Arthur, who has scheduled a preliminary hearing for 11:15 a.m. on December 14, 2009.
The case will be prosecuted in Mercer County by Deputy Attorney General Amy J. Carnicella of the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Section.
Corbett thanked the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Environmental Protection for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.
A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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