Feds Come Down on Lupo; Reveal He Dumped 20 Times by Dan O’Brien, February 15, 2013, The Business Journal
“Companies and workers must follow the rules when they extract its valuable resources,” declared U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach during a press conference in front of the B&O Station, his back facing a flowing Mahoning River. Dettelbach took the opportunity to publicly announce that Ben Lupo, owner of D&L Energy Inc., Youngstown, was charged Thursday with violation of the U.S. Clean Water Act, a federal offense which carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail and a $250,000 fine. upo has admitted to state officials that he ordered employees of Hardrock Excavating, a company he owns, to discharge as much as 240,000 gallons of drilling wastewater into a tributary of the Mahoning River over a five-month period. However, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court yesterday, the number could be as much as 20 times and possibly hundreds of thousands gallons more. … Lupo was arraigned in U.S. District Court here yesterday and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was released on a $50,000 bond. Officials also indicated that not only Lupo, but also the drilling companies that develop the wells and transport excess wastewater from their drilling sites could also be held culpable.
Initially, it was thought that just 40,000 gallons of wastewater, oil and drilling mud were discharged, but an OPEA official said Monday that Lupo told authorities that he’s ordered waste dumped on five other occasions. That could mean potentially more than 200,000 gallons was dumped into the creek, some of which escaped into the river. But according to the affidavit, an individual described only as “Employee Number 2,” told investigators that he or she was aware that another employee – referred to as “Employee Number 1,” in the document – was directed “at least 20 times to discharge wastewater into the storm drain.” Employee Number 2 also told investigators that Lupo directed him/her to, if questioned, state that the discharges “were limited to a total of four to six times.”
Each of the 58 storage tans on the property can hold 21,000 gallons of wastewater. Samples from the storage tanks, the storm drain and the creek were taken and tested, the affidavit reads. These tests confirmed that the wastewater contained “several hazardous pollutants,” including benzene and toluene. The samples also contained chlorides, which is consistent with brine water, the court document says. … “These charges today should serve as a warning to anyone who places their personal interest ahead of public safety,” Zehringer said. “ODNR will continue to aggressively pursue and seek prosecution of any business that blatantly disregards the laws that protect Ohio’s communities.” … “We cannot allow our environment to suffer because of unlawful and immoral actions, and we must show any would-be polluters that any infractions will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Ryan said. “I hope that all of the facts in this case will be made public so that federal, state, and local regulators will be better equipped to ensure that our environment is not being harmed. The natural gas industry is thriving and it can be a boon to our economy, but only if the industry adheres to Ohio rules and regulations.” [Emphasis added]
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