A statement received on Friday from State Rep. Bob Hagan, D-Youngstown:
COLUMBUS– In response to the shocking revelation that 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of fracking wastewater were illegally dumped into a tributary of the Mahoning River, State Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) held a press conference this afternoon calling for criminal charges to be filed against the owner of the company that initiated the dumping.
“Mr. Lupo is of course afforded his due process and is innocent until proven guilty,” Rep. Hagan said. “However, he has admitted to violating the law and the evidence against him is overwhelming. I hope to see the county prosecutor’s office move with all appropriate haste. The oil and gas industry cannot continue to run roughshod over our communities and environment and expect to get away with it.”
Rep. Hagan was joined by one of seven concerned citizens that had been arrested during a peaceful protest outside of the same oil and gas site in 2011.
“This concerned citizen, Mr. Ben Shapiro, was arrested and charged by the Youngstown City Prosecutor for disorderly conduct after peacefully exercising his constitutional right to assembly. Meanwhile, the man who has committed an egregious violation of state and federal environmental regulations – putting our community and our families at risk – has so far suffered no legal repercussions,” Rep. Hagan noted. “Something is terribly wrong with that picture.”
At the press conference Rep. Hagan noted that he has written to the Youngstown City prosecutor’s office, inquiring as to whether criminal charges against Mr. Lupo would be forthcoming.
*Full text of the letter is below:
February 8, 2013
Ms. Dana Lantz
Youngstown City Prosecutor
26 S Phelps Street
Youngstown, OH 44503
Dear Ms. Lantz,
As I am sure you are aware, news reports in Youngstown recently revealed that Hard Rock Excavating, a local company involved in oil and gas exploration in Ohio, improperly disposed of fracking wastewater by illegally dumping it down a storm drain that leads to a tributary of the Mahoning River. While the investigation into the incident is ongoing, it appears that 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of waste – which may well contain oil and brine water laced with toxic chemicals – was recklessly discharged in what amounts to a dangerous and flagrant violation of Ohio regulations.
Such hazardous disregard for the health and safety of our communities and environment – not to mention Ohio law – is entirely unacceptable. Mr. Ben Lupo, owner of Hard Rock Excavating, has signed an EPA Notice of Violation, confirming that the employees who discharged the waste down a storm drain did so under his direction. I firmly believe that harsh criminal penalties must be levied, both as a suitable response to this incident and to discourage potential future transgressions. Allowing the perpetrator of such an egregious act to remain at large sends the message to the public that the oil and gas industry can pollute our community without fear of consequence. Surely, your office must be preparing charges against Mr. Lupo with all appropriate haste? I would like to know if your office intends to file criminal charges in the immediate future.
Thank you for your timely consideration of my inquiry. I look forward to your response.
CC: Attorney General Mike DeWine
Mayor Chuck Sammarone
Police Chief Rod Foley
Director James Zehringer
Director Scott Nally
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.