VIENNA, Ohio - State Senator Joe Schiavoni will introduce legislation to toughen penalties for illegal dumping of waste from oil and gas drilling, and in the process he visited another local brine disposal facility on Friday that he says is doing things right.
K.D.A., Inc. on Warren-Sharon Road in Vienna is a brine disposal facility with four injection wells.
Matthew Kleese's family owns K.D.A. Inc. and he allowed 21 News to tour the facility along with State Senator Schiavoni.
Kleese says he believes the state regulations on the oil and gas drilling industries are tough, but necessary to protect families and the environment.
His facility sits on the farm that his family has owned since the 1940s.
Kleese says they plant crops, ride horses and hope to raise another generation of family there, so keeping the brine injection facility operating safely and in full compliance with the law is important to his family, as well as the community.
Kleese did not want to discuss anything related to Ben Lupo, the owner of D&L Energy now charged with a federal crime related to violating the clean water act, but Kleese is worried about the impact illegal dumping or other violations could have on the entire oil and gas industry.
"With this industry, one person making a mistake with as hot of a topic as this is could cause terrible damage for the rest of us that are actually trying to do a good job out there, and want to do a good job and want to comply," Kleese says.
Senator Schiavoni applauds K.D.A., Inc. for being a positive example to the industry and hopes another man's crime won't paint everyone with the same broad brush.
Schiavoni is introducing legislation to toughen the state penalties to match federal punishments for anyone convicted of dumping waste related to oil and gas drilling.
It's in response to the incident involving Ben Lupo on Salt Springs Road, where thousands of gallons of oil and brine dumped into a storm sewer resulted in a massive clean-up of the Mahoning River.
Schiavoni says the first offense would send the offender to jail for three years, with a $10,000 fine, and additional convictions would carry a six year minimum sentence and a $25,000 fine.
21 News has learned; through a public records request to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, that Lupo had been granted a sevent well permit on January 7th. That was just weeks before the alleged dumping incident occurred.
A worker has told federal authorities that the dumping of oilfield waste occurred at least 20 times at Lupo's direction.
When questioned how it was possible that Lupo was granted another permit even though he has approximately 50 violations and citations on the books over the last few decades, Senator Schiavoni says that he along with the governor are asking the same questions and looking into the matter and expect that issue is also something that sparks a change in the law.
But sources with the state say when a violation occurs and the person rectifies the problem that means they are back in compliance.