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 information was contained in two pages of reports the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency released Tuesday regarding the incident last week at 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 took responsibility for it, the EPA reports say.
The reports say 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 Tuesday.
He signed a notice of violation from the EPA acknowledging two environmental citations: unauthorized discharge to a stream and failure to report the dumping.
The agency is beginning a criminal investigation. In excess of 20,000 gallons of drilling wastes were involved, the state said.
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 said.
The dumping was discovered about 7:30 p.m. 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 the drilling wastes were “intentionally dumped” into the Youngstown storm sewer.
The Ohio EPA is spearheading the cleanup. Its report outlines seven corrective steps to alleviate the pollution problem from the drilling wastes.
Meanwhile a state legislator on Tuesday blasted the Ohio EPA and ODNR for their handling of the illegal dumping.
State Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-Youngstown, asked the agencies why local officials had been “left in the dark regarding this alarming incident.”
He said he is “severely disappointed” in their response and called for all relevant information on the incident to be made available to the public immediately.
In a letter he released Tuesday, Hagan 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 Ohio 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 injection well. Why that waste was at the site is “a mystery that is both puzzling and extremely alarming,” he said.
He noted that the D&L Energy Group, which 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 the state determined it had triggered more than a dozen small earthquakes in the Youngstown area.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.