Exxon Mobil Pleads Guilty in Bird Deaths Case

Company to pay $600,000 in fines for violating Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Oil and gas company Exxon Mobil Corp. has pleaded guilty to killing 85 protected birds by exposing them to hydrocarbons at sites in five different states, the Justice Department said on Aug. 13.

The company pleaded guilty before a Denver court to having violated the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act by allowing hydrocarbons to escape from uncovered natural gas well reserve pits and waste water storage facilities at sites in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The exposure killed birds including waterfowl, hawks, ibis, and owls at Exxon Mobil drilling and production facilities.

The birds are listed as protected, but are not in danger of extinction.

The guilty plea came as part of an agreement with the government that will see Exxon Mobil plead guilty to five charges and pay $400,000 in fines and $200,000 in community service payments, the Justice Department said.

The fines will go toward a federally administered fund to protect wetlands, while the community service payments will be divided between a bird foundation in Colorado and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation chapter in each affected state.

"The environmental compliance plan that Exxon Mobil has agreed to in this multi-district plea agreement is an important step in protecting migratory birds in these five states," said John Cruden, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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