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Utica Shale: Tip leads state inspectors to witness illegal dumping in Youngstown (fracking waste in Mahoning River)

By BOB DOWNING Published: February 5, 2013
A anonymous tip to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources led state inspectors to witness illegal dumping of drilling wastes last week into a storm sewer in Youngstown.
That fact was contained in two pages of reports released on Tuesday by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for last week's alleged illegal dumping at the D&L Energy Group off Salt Springs Road.
Ben Lupo, identified as owner of Hard Rock Excavating, contacted the state inspectors after the dumping and reportedly took responsibility for the illegal dumping, the EPA reports say.
The report says the drilling wastes were "intentionally discharged to the storm sewer by a company employee under the direction of Ben Lupo."
Efforts to reach Lupo were unsuccessful late Tuesday.
He signed a notice of violation from the EPA acknowledging two environmental citations.
The Ohio EPA has issued two citations: the unauthorized discharge to a stream and failure to report the dumping.
The agency is also beginning a criminal investigation.
In excess of 20,000 gallons of drilling wastes were involved, the state said.
The state inspectors witnessed drilling muds, brine and oil from a tanker truck going into a storm sewer that drained to a tributary and into the Mahoning River, the state report says.
The dumping was discovered about 7:30 p.m. last Thursday, according to a report filed at 4:02 p.m. Friday with the U.S. Coast Guard's National Response Center.
That report indicates that the drilling wastes were "intentionally dumped" into the Youngstown storm sewer.
The Ohio EPA was spearheading the cleanup of the sewers, the tributary and the stream.
The EPA report also outlines seven corrective steps to alleviate the pollution problem from the drilling wastes.
In a related development, state Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-Youngstown, knocked two state agencies for their handling of the illegal dumping in Youngstown.
He asked the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources why local officials had been "left in the dark regarding this alarming incident."
He said he is "severely disappointed" in the response from the two state agencies.
He called for all relevant information on the dumping be made available to the public immediately.
Hagan, in a letter he released on Tuesday, said he is "appalled by not only the recklessness of the illegal dumping but also the secrecy and lack of communications and transparency surrounding the incident."
He asked EPA Director Scott Nally why it took his agency four days to issue what he called "a cursory statement that provides little detail or insight into the dumping fiasco."
Hagan also questioned why more than 20,000 gallons of drilling wastes would be present at a closed-down injection well.
Why that waste was at the site is "a mystery that is both puzzling and extremely alarming," Hagan said.
He noted that the D&L Energy Group that owns the injection well off Salt Springs Road has been cited for 120 environmental and regulatory violations at 32 injection wells in Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
The well was closed in late 2011 after it had triggered more than a dozen small earthquakes in the Youngstown area.

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