As the industry continues to insist that there is no danger or downside involved in fracking, the owner of a Youngstown, Ohio drilling company, Hardrock Excavating LLC has been convicted of illegally dumping fracking waste water into a creek which flows into the Mahoning River.
Sixty-four year-old Youngstown resident Benedict Lupo had entered a guilty plea in a U.S. District Court to charges that he had ordered employees to dump tens of thousands of gallons of waste fluids into storm drains emptying into a nearby creek, then instructing them to lie about it. The dumping took place between November 1, 2012, and January 31, 2013, according to court records.
U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent also sentenced Lupo to pay a fine of $25,000, rejecting a request by Lupo’s attorney that he be sentenced to home arrest.
Lupo’s attorney cited his client’s failing health, saying that he suffers from chronic pain and diabetes and must undergo daily dialysis treatments, arguing that for him a prison sentence was a death sentence.
In denying the request, Nugent noted that Lupo had ordered his employees to dump the pollutants into the creek and lie about it over their objections. He also referred to the photographic evidence presented by the prosecution which showed the effects on the creek and detailed the six week clean up required to repair the damage.
“All you have to do is look at those photographs to see the damage that was done,” Nugent said.
Lupo had been charged under the Clean Waters Act and pled guilty to discharging pollutants without a permit.
In late 2012, the company began to build up a backlog of waste to be processed and Lupos ordered Michael Guesman of Cortland and Mark Goff of Newton Falls to begin dumping the waste after hours into the storm drain. On January 31, 2012 one of the two was caught in the act of dumping the waste after state authorities received a tip.
Most of the time the two would purge tanks into the storm drains and at other times they would only partially empty them, dumping the waste into the drain on 33 separate occasions.
Brad Beeson, an assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case said that the creek was “void of life,” writing in court documents:
“Even the most pollution-tolerant organisms, such as nymphs and cadis flies, were not present. The creek was essentially dead.”
In a statement to Nugent, Lupo apologized to his family and the residents of the Mahoning Valley saying:
“My actions were irresponsible.
If this was 20 years ago, this probably never would have happened.”
Lupo’s was the final sentence in the case, Guesman and Goff were sentenced earlier this year, Guesman was sentenced to three years of probation in March and Goff received a similar sentence in July.
h/t: Daily Kos