A Warren man was charged for directing a former employee of a Youngstown-based company to dump fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River, which is a source of public drinking water for several Ohio cities.
Though hazardous pollutants were dumped into a drain that flowed into the tributary, it ultimately flowed into the Mahoning River itself, according to the Northern Ohio U.S. Attorney's Office in a news release Monday.
The discharge from one of the waste disposals was black in color according to the USAO.
The last time an employee allegedly emptied fracking-related liquid into the drain was on or around January 31, 2013. The USAO said analysis showed that benzene and toluene were found among the hazardous pollutants it contained.
The Mahoning River watershed is in northeastern Ohio; and the river flows into western Pennsylvania. It flows through all or part of seven counties, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Its mainstem is a source of public drinking water for Newton Falls and Sebring; and Alliance has a drinking water intake within its Deer Creek Reservoir, the EPA states.
Youngstown, Warren, Alliance and Lordstown are major municipalities in the watershed.
David N. Jenkins, 34, of Warren, was charged with making unpermitted discharges in violation of the Clean Water Act. He is a former employee of Benedict Lupo, who owned Hardrock Excavating in Youngstown, Ohio.
The company stored brine and oil-based drilling mud used in fracking, or hydrofracturing, as a service to the Ohio and Pennsyvania oil and gas industry.
Fracking is the process of injecting fluids--including water, sand and chemicals--into rock at high pressures to force open fissures and release gas and oil from the rock.
Lupo reportedly had around 58 mobile storage tanks at his facility and each held around 20,000 gallons.
On or around November 1, 2012, he allegedly directed employees to empty some of the waste liquid stored at Hadrock into a nearby wastewater drain, but only after dark and when no one else was at the facility, according to the USAO.
On numerous occasions over the next several months, his employees reportedly used a hose to empty liquid.
Lupo, of Poland, Ohio, was previously charged and found guilty of making an unpermitted discharge. He was sentenced to more than two years in prison.
Authorities said that at times, however, Lupo was unable to speak directly to employees and instead directed Jenkins to contact them about emptying stored waste liquids into the stormwater drain at night. And Jenkins did, according to USAO.
Newsnet5.com contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to request information on the effect this alleged waste disposal may have had on the Ohio River and areas impacted by the Mahoning River.
ODNR did not respond by press time, but Newsnet5.com will update this story when it responds.
A charge is not evidence of guilt.