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Ohio Utica Shale

Pa. waste cleanup firm, owner charged with improper disposal

By Bob Downing Published: June 10, 2014

From the Associated Press last week:

A waste cleanup firm and its owner improperly disposed of toxic natural gas drilling waste, the state Attorney General's Office said in charges filed on Friday.

Minuteman Environmental Services and Brian Bolus, who owns the Milton-based company, were charged in Union County with unlawful conduct. Bolus also is charged with conspiracy, prosecutors said.

Bolus, 43, did not respond to a telephone message left with a Minuteman receptionist.

Witnesses told a grand jury that between 2010 and 2013, employees washed out trucks or equipment containing drilling wastewater, mud or cuttings onto the ground at company properties in Harrisburg and Milton.

Prosecutors say they have evidence waste drained into a small waterway by the Harrisburg property. They also say drilling waste was stored in leaking containers on company properties.

State environmental regulators said they had not issued permits for the activity.

“Brian Bolus and Minuteman blatantly exploited hard-working employees, dozens of businesses and the environment,” Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in a statement.

A 48-page grand jury presentment recommended other charges against Bolus, two related firms and his mother, father, brother, sister and father's fiancee stemming from other alleged conspiracies that do not involve environmental crimes.

In one alleged conspiracy, prosecutors accused Bolus and Minuteman of overbilling clients, including many of the major natural gas exploration companies that have flocked to Pennsylvania in the last five years to explore the Marcellus shale, the nation's largest-known natural gas formation. The alleged overbilling reached into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, in a separate alleged conspiracy, Bolus family members were essentially ghost employees at firms owned by Brian Bolus or his father, allowing them to submit a half-million dollars in fraudulent health insurance claims and drive up insurance premiums for company employees, prosecutors said.

All told, three companies owned by Brian Bolus and three companies owned by his father were charged, prosecutors said.

The investigation became public in May 2013, when the FBI and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection searched Minuteman's office in Milton.

Gov. Tom Corbett visited Minuteman in 2012 as part of an effort to drum up support for his state budget proposal, calling the company “an American success story.”

The Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce named Minuteman its business of the year in 2012.

 



 

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

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.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

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.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.