ODNR revokes permits from Hardrock Excavating, D&L Energy - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

ODNR revokes permits from Hardrock Excavating, D&L Energy

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Department of Natural Resources revoked operating permits from both D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating after Hardrock was caught illegally dumping waste into a sewer drain on D&L property.

The decision came Wednesday to permanently revoke operating permits for both companies.

The ODNR received an anonymous tip about the dumping, and ODNR inspectors responded to 2761 Salt Springs Rd. about 7:30 pm on January 31st where they actually witnessed dumping in progress.

In a press release issued Thursday, the ODNR writes that D&L will cease injection well operations in the state, D&L's six current injection well permits are revoked and three pending permits are denied, D&L must cease all storage operations at the location in question and Hardrock lost its brine haulers permit.

The state will also continue its criminal investigation in the matter and ODNR has requested the Ohio Attorney General initiate civil proceedings.

The Environmental Protection Agency submitted samples from the waste that was being dumped into the storm sewer for testing. The goal to determine exactly what was contained in the 40,000 gallons of waste that was dumped.

The property belongs to D&L Energy, an oil and gas exploration company, but documents from the Ohio EPA identify Hardrock Excavating, a West Virginia based company using the property, as the company at fault. 

The deputy director of communications with the Ohio EPA, Chris Abbruzzese, tells 21 News that part of the criminal investigation is determining exactly how much oilfield waste was illegally dumped at the site and if the dumping occurred once or multiple times.

Abbruzzese says they have thrown all of their resources at this and are under the gun from a weather perspective because the thawing ground could exacerbate the situation.

The criminal investigation is on-going, and 21 News has put in calls to Ben Lupo, the owner of Hardrock Excavating. A Notice of Violation from the EPA states that brine was intentionally discharged into the storm sewer under the direction of Lupo.

Neither Lupo nor a representative for the company have issued any further statements at the time this story was posted.

On Monday, D&L Energy released a statement denying any responsibility for the dumping saying another company was operating on D&L's property.

In the statement, a representative confirms the incident and the investigation but makes it clear that D&L Energy was not involved in the incident.

They say other companies were operating on the D&L owned property and it is their understanding that those companies are working with state authorities to determine exactly what happened and why. D&L declined to identify those other companies.

The Ohio EPA and ODNR have been on Salt Springs Road since Friday, directing the clean-up of the discharged waste that has not only made its way into a storm drain but also a tributary and the Mahoning River.

The two state agencies, despite being here since Friday, have not publicly identified any chemical that poses a danger to public health.

But the Ohio EPA is currently conducting a criminal investigation into the Thursday dumping incident.

D&L is the same company that operated the injection well on Ohio Works Drive that was shut down following a series of earthquakes last year.

Youngstown's Department of Public Works was also on the scene. Chuck Shasho, the deputy director of Public Works for the city, says the EPA will make sure that the city's storm drain system is free of debris and any possible discharges.

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