Criminal complaint alleges Lupo "gave the word" for brine mixtur - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Criminal complaint alleges Lupo "gave the word" for brine mixture to be dumped

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The affidavit to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court here reveals new details of events that lead state officials to discover hundreds of thousands of gallons of waste dumped into the Mahoning River.

The affidavit states that Ben Lupo, owner of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating, "directed the discharge of brine and oil-based drilling mud into a stormwater drain which flowed into an unnamed tributary of the Mahoning River and ultimately in the Mahoning River."

The complaint against Lupo charges he violated the Clean Water Act.

The affidavit alleges Lupo told employees to dump the mixture and how to respond if questioned by authorities.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources received an anonymous tip about a truck illegally discharging wastewater "from the Hardrock facility."

The tip lead ODNR investigators to the site where, according to the complaint, they "found a hose discharging wastewater into a stormwater drain located at the facility."

When ODNR's emergency response branch inspected the scene, they took a sample from a storage tank on D&L's property that had drained the night before.

In an interview during the investigation, Lupo stated that "he directed a Hardrock employee to discharge the contents" of that storage tank.  The affidavit also states Lupo told inspectors he "gave the word" for the storage tank to be discharged.

Four days later, an investigator from the U.S. EPA's Criminal Investigation Division interviewed an employee of Hardrock who confirmed they discharged wastewater from that storage tank into a stormwater drain on the property the night in question.

According to the affidavit, the employee stated that "on four occasions" they "had been directed by Ben Lupo to discharge the wastewater from the storage tanks into the stormwater drain" and that Lupo directed the employee to do so "only after no one else was present at the facility and after dark."

Investigators talked to a second employee of Hardrock on February 12.

The affidavit states the worker told them the discharges into the stormwater drain go back as far as November of 2012 and were done "at the direction of Lupo" and occurred "at least 20 times."

The employee also told investigators Lupo instructed the employees to tell investigators "that the discharges were limited to a total of four or six times."

The affidavit states that samples tested were found to contain the "presence" of several hazardous pollutants including benzene and toluene.  The presence of chloride was also found and chlorides in a sample is indicative of the presence of brine, according to the affidavit.

To read the criminal complaint and affidavit in their entirety, see "Ben Lupo Criminal Complaint" and "Ben Lupo Affidavit" in associated links.

To read comments from investigators, see "ODNR: 'Charges today should serve as a warning.'" in associated links.

Stay tuned to WFMJ.com and 21 News for more on this developing story. 

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