A press release issued today by state Rep. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown, on Ben Lupo dumping case in Youngstown:
COLUMBUS– State Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) today introduced two bills that aim to protect the public from potential negative consequences of fracking, and demanded that the agencies overseeing the cleanup at D&L Energy Group headquarters provide the public with more answers.
Both actions were prompted by the recent revelation that hundreds of gallons of brine and oil were illegally disposed of near Youngstown, as well as the Kasich Administration’s introduction of fracking legislation to rectify inadequate oil and gas regulations.
House Bill 41, introduced this afternoon, will provide local governments and municipalities the authority to enact and enforce health and safety standards for oil and gas drilling and exploration. Currently, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has the sole and exclusive authority in overseeing these standards.
House Bill 42 – also known as the Fracking Emergency Medical Right to Know bill – establishes ODNR as the central housing authority for all fracking-related chemical information. The department would have access to protected trade secrets, and could use this information to provide emergency first responders with critical data in case of an accident, spill or incident such as the illegal dumping recently revealed in Youngstown.
“We learned this morning that over 250,000 gallons of brine and oil have been dumped into the Mahoning River, and yet it has been twelve days since the incident and the public still has no knowledge of what chemicals were released into our water,” Rep. Hagan said. “The public, especially the emergency responders and cleanup crews, have a right to know what sort of hazardous materials with which we’re dealing.”
In a letter to the directors of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency sent today, Rep. Hagan decried the agencies’ lack of transparency and communication, and requested that they provide the public with concrete answers.
“The lack of forthrightness and consistent communication on behalf of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is severely distressing and a shameful disservice to the public for whom both agencies were established to protect,” said Rep. Hagan in his letter. “It is through transparency and cooperation that we can best protect our communities from this type of harm.”
*Full text of the letter is below:
February 12, 2013
Director James Zehringer
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
2045 Morse Rd, Bldg D
Columbus, OH 43229
Dear Director Zehringer,
I am writing to you today because I woke up this morning to a stunning headline. When news broke of the illegal disposal of brine and oil from the headquarters of D&L Energy Group last week, it was reported that up to 20,000 gallons of the potentially toxic waste was flushed down a storm drain and into the Mahoning River. That estimate was later increased to 40,000 – 50,000 gallons by those overseeing the cleanup efforts, but in our phone conversation last week you insisted that this number was inaccurate and too high. Well, we now know, as the Vindicator’s front page story revealed this morning, that upwards of 250,000 gallons of brine and oil were dumped on multiple occasions by D&L Energy Group owner, Mr. Ben Lupo.
Twelve days after Mr. Lupo was caught red-handed and admitted to violating the law, no arrest has been made and the public remains in the dark as to what chemicals may have been released into the Mahoning River. The lack of forthrightness and consistent communication on behalf of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is severely distressing and a shameful disservice to the public for whom both agencies were established to protect. It is through transparency and cooperation that we can best protect our communities from this type of harm, and so I would like to officially request that the Department of Natural Resources immediately provide my office with any and all correspondence or information pertaining to the illegal disposal of brine and drilling wasterwater by D&L Energy Group, beginning from the day of the incident, January 31st, thru today.
Thank you for your timely consideration of this request. I look forward to your response.
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.