Hagan criticizes two state agencies over dumping cleanup

By David Skolnick



State Rep. Robert F. Hagan criticized two state agencies for failing to provide accurate information about a cleanup they are overseeing connected to the dumping of about 252,000 gallons of drilling waste into a city storm drain.

Hagan, of Youngstown, D-58th, wrote letters Tuesday to the directors of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency. The “lack of forthrightness” from the two “is severely distressing and a shameful disservice to the public for whom both agencies were established to protect,” he wrote.

But Chris Abbruzzese, OEPA spokesman, said his agency and ODNR are “in the middle of a criminal investigation. One item we’re trying to determine is how much was dumped.”

Abbruzzese, who said he also was speaking on behalf of ODNR, said the agencies take “this incident very seriously. We’re not going to allow flagrant violators of Ohio laws to continue in these endeavours. We’re not going to talk about a criminal case. I would not put a number on it.”

But others have.

Shortly after employees of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating dumped drilling waste Jan. 31 at the direction of company owner Ben W. Lupo, Lupo included in a report that the amount was as much as 20,000 gallons.

Last week, city Fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr. said Kurt Kollar, on-scene coordinator for the OEPA’s Division of Emergency and Remedial Response, told him the amount was about 40,000 to 50,000 gallons.

On Wednesday, Kollar told reporters that Lupo admitted a day or two after the Jan. 31 dumping that he had ordered employees to dump at least five other times since September 2012.

Each of those six times Lupo had employees empty two 21,000-gallon tanks of brine material and oil-based mud into the city’s storm-drain system on the company’s Salt Springs Road property, Kollar said. That’s 252,000 gallons of waste dumped.

“That’s what [Lupo’s] indicating,” Kollar said.

Hagan said James Zehringer, ODNR director, told him last week that the 40,000-to-50,000-gallon figure “was inaccurate and too high.”

Also Tuesday, Hagan introduced two bills. The first would provide local governments the authority to enact and enforce health and safety standards for oil and gas drilling and exploration.

The second would establish ODNR as a central authority for fracking-related chemical information that could be shared with local first responders reacting to a chemical spill or dump.

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