Dumping fracking waste into the eco-system

Environmentalists are calling for stricter regulations after the owner of an excavating company ordered his employees to dump drilling waste into a storm drain. Ben Lupo, owner of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating, admitted to the Ohio EPA he ordered the workers to dump the waste. He was arrested and charged Feb. 14 in federal court for violating the Clean Water Act.
Melissa Topey
Mar 4, 2013

 

The maximum federal sentence for the violation is three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as one year of supervised release. It’s a harsher penalty than what Lupo would have faced with state charges.

He’s accused of ordering employees, on five different occasions, to dump about 20,000 gallons of fracking waste — a mixture of brine material and oil-based drilling mud — into a storm drain that flowed into a tributary that flows into the Mahoning River, near Youngstown.

“Prevention starts with strong enforcement. That is the best deterrent to someone thinking this could happen,” said Jack Shaner, deputy director and senior director of legislative and public affairs at the Ohio Environmental Council.

Ohio has typically been a weak enforcer of regulations, said Shaner, who’s calling for harsher state penalties and better oversight.

Shaner said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources should add inspectors to monitoring the practices of businesses such as Lupo’s.

Lupo’s employees may actually have dumped more waste material than they’re admitting, Shaner said.

The Ohio Environmental Council estimates the Youngstown dumping, based on statements made by Lupo’s employee, could have been as high as 250,000 gallons of a toxic slurry.

“As the events in Youngstown indicate, accidental spills and, in this case, intentional dumping happens,” he said. “The last place we want it to happen is into springs, or God forbid, into the Great Lakes.”

There are currently 529 permits in Ohio for horizontal Utica shale wells, with 242 already drilled, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The state has also issued 20 permits for horizontal Marcellus shale wells, with seven drilled, ODNR maps show.    There were about 180 disposal wells in Ohio as of 2012.

Three messages left with Gov. John Kasich’s office since Feb. 20 w ere not returned. A Register reporter was seeking to know how much the state has budgeted for enforcement of fracking violations.

Fracking requires a lot of freshwater to fracture rock and pull out gas and petroleum from the rock. The result is a slurry of water contaminated with chemicals, sand and a higher level of salt concentration. If not stored properly, the material will contaminate ground water and soil.

Billions of gallons of water are being thrown away, Shaner said.

“Less than 1 percent a year is replenished by snow and melt,” he said. “This is a finite resource.”

Holly Myers, a lecturer at the Center of Environmental Programs at BGSU, said the news is a jolt.

“It was shocking to me that anyone above the age of 5 does not know not to dump down a storm sewer that may go directly into a stream,” Myers said. “There are some things that cannot be removed from the water.”

Myers said she’s angry a businessman was not shut down after the state had conclusive evidence his drilling was causing earthquakes in the Youngstown area.

“Why was he allowed to remain in business to dump it on Jan. 31?” Myers said. “There needs to be more oversight.”

Shaner and Myers said the Lupo case may be the wakeup call ne e de d to protect the Great Lakes and the freshwater supply.

Local legislators are trying to make state penalties mirror those at the federal level.

State Sens. Frank LaRose, R-Copley Township, and Joe Schiavoni- D-Boardman, have introduced SB 46, which would deny drilling permits to any person or company caught violating the law designed to stop illegal dumping of waste. It would make the crime a felony, with a fine of up to $50,000 and a prison sentence of up to three years on the first offense. As it stands now, a state violation nets an offender up to six months in jail.

 The Ohio Petroleum Council applauded Lupo’s prosecution.

We encourage all appropriate federal, state and local law enforcement and regulatory agencies to thoroughly investigate this situation and prosecute the responsible parties to the fullest extent of the law,” said Rob Eshenbaugh, spokesman for The Ohio Petroleum Council.

Comments

Kimo

We are now advised not to eat fish from Lake Erie more than once a week because of pollution.
We will be advised not to drink water from Lake Erie more than once a week in ten years?
.

tzu4u

Let me understand this- it is not ok to dump fracking water into rivers or streams, but it is ok to inject these same chemicals into our underground water supplies. That makes sense.

Bluto

Sounds like a return to the good ole days . Pretty soon we maybe able to bask in the glow of burning rivers again .

Cowboy

Frack Park, coming to an empty lot near you soon!

pavedparadise

No need for US-EPA or Ohio EPA? Riggght

Dinghy Gal

You are all ignorant of the facts. Lupo will be made an example of and will get what he earned. As to fracking waste, it is not injected into the ground water. It is injected thousand of feet below ground water levels where it is harmlessly remains, forever.

Pterocarya frax...

If it remains thousands of feet down there, why were they dumping it down a storm drain? Talk about ignorant of the facts...

DGMutley

$$$

Dinghy Gal

Thankfully it's not illegal to be ignorant and stupid. I'll explain it once more. It is illegal to dump waste water from fracking anywhere but deep well injection. What he was doing is illegal! This guy was caught, the law will deal with him.

eriemom

Forever? Really? Just like past generations we think that we can control nature, yet we now have to deal with Superfund toxic waste dumps.

Find a way to treat the injection material. Reverse osmosis comes to mind. Do the research needed to make the process safe, not just cheap.

Dinghy Gal

It is safe.

pavedparadise

Educational Information on Fracking )videos).

kansas.sierraclub.org/Fracking/FrackingVideos.html

Dinghy Gal

If the Sierra Club had their way the world would be devoid of human life.

Kimo

removed

Dinghy Gal

Was your comment stupid?