By Mike Ludwig
Friday, 15 February 2013
Ben Lupo, owner of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal felony charges under the Clean Water Act.
Lupo is accused of ordering the dumping of thousands of gallons of chemical-laced fracking waste into streams in Youngstown, Ohio.
On the night of January 31, state investigators acted on an anonymous tip and caught Lupo’s employees dumping oil and gas drilling waste – fluid, mud and oil – into a storm sewer that empties into a tributary of the Mahoning River, according to the Justice Department.
Lupo admitted to state authorities that he ordered the initial dumping and later told investigators he ordered employees to dump the contents of a fracking waste storage tank into the storm drain on six occasions. A Hardrock Excavating employee, however, told authorities that he was aware of 20 dumping incidents since November 2012, according to the Justice Department.
Lupo’s storage tanks hold about 21,000 gallons of waste.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial drilling technique that is facilitating an oil and gas boom in Ohio and nearby states. Fracking produces large quantities of chemical-laced waste fluids and mud.
Lupo’s D&L Energy operated the Northstar 1 fracking wastewater injection well that caused a series of earthquakes in 2011 and early 2012, including one quake that measured 4.0 on the Richter scale. Truthout published an investigative report on the earthquakes last summer.