The head of a Youngstown company and an employee have been indicted for illegally dumping oil and gas drilling waste into the Mahoning River. Ben Lupo, the owner of Hardrock Excavating Company, and employee Michael Guesman, are charged with violating the federal Clean Water Act. Ideastream’s Michelle Kanu has the latest update from the US attorney’s office.
Prosecutors say Lupo ordered Guesman to empty storage tanks containing drilling waste water into a storm drain on the company’s property late at night.
EPA officials say the waste eventually made its way into the Mahoning River and contained cancer causing chemicals like benzene and toluene.
According to court documents, another employee witnessed Guesman dumping fluid down the storm drain more than 20 times going back to November of 2012. State investigators acted on an anonymous tip and caught the crime in progress in late January of this year.
Lupo has admitted he told Guesman to get rid of the fluid six times.
Lupo and Guesman each face three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Their court appearances haven't been scheduled yet.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has revoked the operating permits for Hardrock Excavating, which is also named in the indictment, and D&L Energy, an injection well company also owned by Lupo.