Ohio Environmental Council, February 11, 2013
Eco group calls for “Scarlet Letter” law to prevent bad players in oil and gas industry from ever doing business again in Ohio.
The Ohio Environmental Council is praising the decisive response of the Kasich administration to the illegal dumping of an estimated 30,000 gallons of oil and gas drilling waste water into a storm sewer that drains to the Mahoning River near Youngstown.
Last week, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources ordered the immediate and permanent revocation of the operating permits of the Youngstown company connected to the event. The order covers injection wells operating in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties and three under construction: two in Mahoning County and one in Trumbull County.
The state also is considering criminal and civil charges.
In addition, a spill response team and investigators from Ohio EPA have been on the scene since the dumping was first discovered last week, directing containment and clean up efforts.
“Gov. Kasich had stated that he would not tolerate any illegal activity by the oil and gas industry, such as this shameless and blatant event. Gov. Kasich is making good on that pledge, and we thank him for that,” said Melanie Houston, Director of Water Policy and Environmental Health for the Ohio Environmental Council.
The amout of waste could be far higher than this incident, more than 250,000 gallons of waste dumped.
According to the Youngstown Indicator, “Ben W. Lupo, owner of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating, admitted he ordered employees to dump drilling waste into a city storm drain at least five times before being caught Jan. 31, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency official said. Each time, starting in September 2012, Lupo had workers empty two 21,000-gallon tanks of brine material and oil-based mud.”
The permit holder, D&L Energy Group, is the same company that operated an injection well that triggered more than a dozen small earthquakes through late 2011 in the Youngstown area. The well was used to dispose of drilling waste.
The OEC said it will urge the Kasich administration and the General Assembly to pass a “Scarlet Letter law” to permanently bar from doing business in Ohio, any oil and gas industry operator found guilty of environmental crimes or repeated or flagrant violations of the law, in Ohio or another state.
“A Scarlet Letter Law would stop dead in their tracks any bad actor from calculating any perverse risk versus reward from tempting a flagrant or repeat crime,” said Houston.