Oil Found in Local River; Man Charged

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(File Picture Courtesy: MGN Online)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A man accused of instructing an employee to dump brine and oil-based drilling mud into a stormwater drain was charged with one count of violating the Clean Water Act.

The drain flowed into a tributary of the Mahoning River, and ultimately into the river near Youngstown.

According to an affidavit filed in federal court, Ben Lupo, 62, of Poland, Ohio, admitted he directed the waste be handled in that manner a total of six times.

Lupo owns Hardrock Excavating LLC in Youngstown, a company that stores brine and oil-based drilling mud, among other services provided to the oil and gas industry.

“Those of us from Northeast Ohio know the legacy of dumping industrial waste into our waterways,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “Whether our water flows south to the Ohio River or north to the Great Lakes, protecting and preserving clean and safe water remains a major priority of the my office and the Department of Justice.”

An anonymous call was made to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Jan. 31 to report that someone would be making the illegal dump.

ODNR checked it out on Feb. 1 and found the tributary had puddles of oil and the Mahoning River had oil and an oily sheen.

If convicted of violating the Clean Water Act, Lupo could face three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release.

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