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Thousands of gallons potentially dumped at D&L

Report: Suspected fracking water discharged into storm drain near D&L Energy Group HQ
Published: 2/5/13 @ 12:08


By Jamison Cocklin

jcocklin@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Two state regulatory agencies are conducting a criminal investigation into how or even why up to 20,000 gallons of suspected fracking waste — which may have contained oil and brine water — were dumped into a storm drain near the site of the D&L Energy Group headquarters on Salt Springs Road.

In fact, it remains unclear altogether who is responsible, as neither of the agencies investigating the incident — the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources — is releasing the names of those involved or any detailed specifics.

“D&L Energy confirms that the OEPA and the ODNR are apparently looking into an incident which occurred on D&L-owned property Thursday of last week,” wrote D&L spokesman Vince Bevacqua in a statement. “We wish to state clearly that D&L Energy was not involved in the incident.

“Other companies were operating on D&L property at the time of the incident,” the statement continued. “It is D&L’s understanding that those other companies are working with state authorities to determine exactly what happened and why.”

According to a preliminary report filed with the National Response Center, a federal call center that first takes reports and routes them to regulatory agencies, “an unknown amount of crude oil and brine were intentionally dumped into a storm drain at 2761 Salt Springs Road” about 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

The report details that as much as 20,000 gallons of the substance made its way through the drain and into a tributary that fed the Mahoning River, which is listed as the area primarily affected on the report.

Once ODNR and the OEPA began their investigation, Gov. John Kasich was briefed on the matter, said spokesman Robert Nichols, a fact he said is no indication of the severity of the spill.

However, officials with the city of Youngstown remain mostly in the dark on specifics. Chuck Shasho, deputy director of public works, said ODNR contacted him late Friday to notify him of the “potential discharge” at D&L and asked him to aid a response team in locating the drain’s outlet to the river.

Once inspectors located the discharge point at a creek in the rear of the Toys “R” Us Distribution Center just off Salt Springs Road on Geoffrey Trail, the Youngstown Fire Department was called to the scene to help a response team gain access to the tributary, Shasho said.

“I don’t know how much was spilled or what the status of the cleanup is,” he added. “We’ll be in contact with the [OEPA] so they can bring us up to speed. They did notify us like they were supposed to.”

Mayor Chuck Sammarone could not be reached Monday; instead his chief of staff DeMaine Kitchen, who said it was “the first he’s heard” of the incident, referred The Vindicator to Shasho.

For the time being, details of the dumping will remain scant said OEPA spokesman Mike Settles, who called the situation “sensitive” in explaining his agency’s decision to release a cursory statement on the matter four days after the incident.

Repeated calls to multiple officials at ODNR were not returned Monday.

“Agency responders confirmed a release of oil and other oil field wastes to the storm drain, an unnamed tributary and the Mahoning River,” OEPA’s state- ment read. “Since Friday, our responders have directed the containment and cleanup of the discharged wastes.”

Containment booms, absorbent pads, vacuum trucks and other equipment are currently in place and work continues to clean out the “storm drain and remove any remaining product from the tributary,” the statement added.

Still, the spill remains cloaked in mystery — and suspicion. The incident apparently occurred near both D&L headquarters and the site of the shuttered Northstar 1 injection well the ODNR linked to 2011’s earthquakes. The agency has since placed an indefinite suspension on that well and four others within a seven-mile radius.

A byproduct of hydraulic fracking, injection wells are used to dispose of the chemical-laced wastewater — or brine water — used during fracking.

Adding to the mystery is how 20,000 gallons of suspected fracking fluid arrived at that location in the first place, since it was near the closed injection well. A typical tanker truck can hold a maximum of 8,000 gallons, which might indicate several trucks were at the location.

Bevacqua, D&L spokesman, was adamant that the incident had nothing to do with either an injection well or D&L. He pointed to the two other companies operating at the site, which he said he was not author-ized to speak for.

In the end, he added, the OEPA’s eventual findings and its final report on the dumping will prove that D&L was not at fault, he said.

When asked if any of the dozens of other companies shown by public records to be affiliated with or owned by D&L’s chief executive, Ben W. Lupo, were responsible, Bevacqua insisted that any such suspicions were irrelevant, saying only that D&L operates separately of those entities and was not at all responsible.

A Vindicator investigation in 2012 revealed that D&L has a history of at least 120 violations at 32 injection and extraction wells across Ohio and Pennsylvania stemming from citations levied by environmental regulators for failing to display a permit or contaminating water and soil, among other things.

The OEPA said Monday that more information on the dumping incident on Salt Spring Road is forthcoming, but officials there could not say when.


Comments


Posted by DwightK (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 9:18 a.m.

So it's D & L's property but they aren't aware of or responsible for what happens there? What kind on hooey is that?

I think spokesman Vince Bevacqua mispronounced something in his statement. When you dump two or three truckloads of fracking waste into a storm drain on purpose the word isn't pronounced "incident", it's pronounced "crime".


Posted by Boar7734 (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 9:39 a.m.

D & L now has an image problem and a branding problem that PR can not erase. Look for name change or a sale of the companies with the same lack of leadership, Proper corporate governance is a way of doing busines not just talk. It is no accident that neighbors in a residental area without public waters in Trumbull are opposed to D & L for a salt water injection well (SWIW). These same neighbors fully support vertical and hozizontal drilling for gas. ODNR and OEPA know this company well.


Posted by cambridge (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.

Ohio signed up to be a toxic waste dump when they agreed to accept that waste from other states. This is just the start, much more to come.


Posted by Think121 (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 12:46 p.m.

This has been going on for a long time. Just ask some truckers. This is what is being touted as the next best thing to the invention of the plow and look at the damage already. Wise up! It's not like I didn't warn you this was going to happen.


Posted by danny347 (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.

Can we trust ODNR to do a proper investigation of this?
It shows us how good "regulations" are, the deed is done, there is no undoing it, all of the money and punishment, in the World, cannot fix this. Its time to send D&L far away from us


Posted by CongressWatcher (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 1:24 p.m.

So where is Nathan Bennett from Williamsport is "the guy who is environmental engineer supposed to protect our water"? Nice commercial. Put some process behind it.


Posted by cambridge (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.

uticashill.... What, no smartass remarks?


Posted by soylentgreen (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 2:56 p.m.

Where are all the "loudmouth" too much regulation people now,drink up big business lovers I hope your kids get the first gulp.


Posted by Think121 (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 3:51 p.m.

This stuff is radioactive! This is NOT the first instance of illegal dumping.

THIS IS CRIMINAL!!! So don't throw the trucker behind bars, throw the company CEO that drilled the well in jail!!!


Posted by walter_sobchak (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 3:57 p.m.

I totally support the fracking industry but what has occurred here is a serious crime against the citizenry. Hopefully the law specifies fines and imprisonment for the criminals here. The taxes on fracking most definitely must be increased and oversight by the ODNR and OEPA stricter. This was a deliberate act, not an accidental spill. Vince Bevaqua also comes off like the piano player in a cathouse.


Posted by GeorgeinYoungstown (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.

This is a good time to remind the public that the gas drilling process produces - and will continue to produce - unfathomable amounts of waste fluid (flowback) that will have to be disposed of.

And to remind citizens that this waste will contain toxins like benzene, toluene, as well as naturally occurring & technologically enhanced radioactive materials like radium 226, which has a half-life of 1600 yrs - meaning, it can potentially remain in the ecosystem for over 3000 years.

This has already proven to be the case in the Marcellus Shale:

http://www.timesonline.com/news/local...

So you cannot separate the gas drilling from the waste disposal - i.e. you can't have one without the other.

But as bad as this story is, I think the even more disappointing aspect of this is how a once well-respected television personality/"journalist" - Mr. Bevacqua - can become such a blatant apologist for this company and the drilling industry in general.

Let it be a lesson for other reporters and media figures who still have a conscience...


Posted by VIGILANT (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 4:45 p.m.

This worries me! We need to stop all drilling worlwide! There is no need for it!


Posted by Ytownnative (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 4:53 p.m.

Where is Utica ? He always says how good this is for the valley


Posted by republicanRick (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.

Settle down tree huggers. Let's get the facts before you start blaming evil business.


Posted by UticaShale (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 9:40 p.m.

Sorry people, I was out working to provide for the ones who don't.

Damn right! I'm with all Y'all, I see the light now. Let's all boycott BP, Shell, Chevron, Exxon! Hell I think we should follow Cambridge and boycott Dominion NG, are you with me??? No more fracking in the world!
I say we all go NUCLEAR! Yeah, who's with me, who needs natural gas anyway? Nuclear is much cleaner and environmentally safe. For the interim, while we shut off our NG and electric, let's cut down the trees to heat ourselves....yeah! Follow me people, if we all STOP now and quit using fossil fuels , the energy companies would be forced to stop drilling, YES, this is the answer chaaaaaaaaaaaaarge..............................


Posted by Ytownnative (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 9:43 p.m.

There was the useless rant I was looking for


Posted by UticaShale (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 10:06 p.m.

There "is" the useless rant I was looking for.


Posted by UticaShale (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 10:27 p.m.

Sounds like "FrackFree'" sabotage to me.


Posted by excel (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 11:01 p.m.

This spill was no earth shaking deal and certainly not life threatening. As soon as the water mixed with the discharge from Youngstown's sewage treatment plant downstream it was purified to a high degree. Charge them the usual dumping fee that Warren charges upstream for their wastewater going into the sewers and all will be well. Cold weather may have split the pipes causing the spill anyhow so we can blame it on lack of global warming.


Posted by Starbuck (anonymous) on February 5, 2013 at 11:15 p.m.

It is unfortunate the one individual who is obviously very reckless and apparently does not follow regulations has cast a bad light on a very controlled industry. The positive aspect of this incident is that it was caught immediately and the proper action was taken to contain the dispensed contaminants. In most cases, if a single gallon of fracking waste hits the ground, immediate measures are taken. I personally know two people who are responsible for these types of clean-ups. Hopefully, criminal charges will be brought against the alleged perpetrator of this horrendous behavior.


Posted by AD330 (anonymous) on February 6, 2013 at 1:21 a.m.

Can it, mouthpiece. No one is buying that garbage story you are trying to sell us. Now hurry back to D&L before they start to miss you.


Posted by cambridge (anonymous) on February 6, 2013 at 3:13 a.m.

At least the valley made history, if your going to believe uticashill there has never been a case of water or air pollution connected with fracking. I'm sure nothing like that will ever happen again.


Posted by Starbuck (anonymous) on February 6, 2013 at 9:58 a.m.

Not sure to whom AD330 is speaking, but, let me go on the record as saying I have never worked for any company involved in fracking. I am retired, so, I'm going back to drinking my coffee.


Posted by jeepers (anonymous) on February 14, 2013 at 2:32 p.m.

Feb. 14th-Vince's statements now appear to be all lies. Is the strategy to have so many companies that he can deny one was involved, while knowing one of the others was to blame? Any way you slice it-crimes have been commited.These kind of companys give the good ones a bad name. I WAS reluctantly for all this exploration, a few more of these type dumping crimes and my opinion will be changing. The 1950's mentality of LUPO makes me puke-just flush it into the drains and the poison magically disappears. Do they deserve a 2nd chance-not for this guy and all his illegal companies. Vince-you better look for another line of work- I will NEVER believe anything you say from this point forward.