An area farmer, Tom Frantz, caught workers from the company dumping a black liquid discharge into an unlined, open pit on the well site in Shafter, CA.
Frantz then posted his video on YouTube where it gained much attention. He handed it over to the Regional Water Quality Control Board that monitors activity in California’s Central Valley.
An investigation determined that Vintage had illegally dumped the toxic fracking discharge for nearly two weeks. The investigation also discovered that the company was periodically discharging saline water, formation fluids, and hydraulic fracturing fluid to an unlined sump for 12 days, a huge threat to groundwater quality and safety.
This is the first time that a California company has been called out for illegal fracking conduct. It’s not the first time it’s happened in the US, however. In July, the US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency fined XTO Energy, an Exxon company, $100,000 for letting fracking wastewater contaminate a tributary of Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River.
Occidental, one of the largest names in the worldwide oil industry, will pay the $60,000 fine against Vintage. The company can afford it after mind-blowing profits of $1.58 billion in 2012. Thanks to the deep pockets and high powered lobbyists of the oil industry, Federal regulations on fracking are expected to soon be modified to be less of a headache for the oil industry.