Dover man fined for dumping drilling waste into Chagrin River tributary
An Ohio man was fined $2,000 and put on probation for two years after discharging well drilling waste into Beecher Brook, a tributary of the Chagrin River, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
James L. Hidey, 45, of Dover, Ohio, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of making unpermitted discharges.
Hidey worked for Great Plains Exploration, an oil and gas well drilling company based in Northeast Ohio. On two separate occasions in 2008, he directed the discharge of brine into a stormwater sewer after the completion of gas wells in Mayfield Heights and Highland Heights. The brine flowed from the stormwater sewers into Beecher Brook and eventually into the Chargrin River, according to the information.
Brine is water with a high quantity of salt dissolved into it and is used during the drilling phase of the well installation. It must be handled and disposed of properly because of the toxicity of brine.
“Clean, fresh water is our greatest resource in Northern Ohio,” Dettelbach said. “We will aggressively investigate and prosecute cases in which people pollute Ohio’s streams, rivers and lakes.”
“Individuals who deliberately violate environmental protection laws and jeopardize the health and safety of Ohio families and wildlife must be held accountable for their crimes. I am glad to see that justice is being served in this case,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
“Knowingly discharging harmful waste byproducts from drilling operations has serious consequences for natural resources and local communities,” said Randall Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Ohio. “On several occasions, the defendant instructed his workers to dispose of drilling waste into storm sewer catch basins that ultimately flow into rivers and streams, putting human health, wildlife and the environment at serious risk.”
“We will not tolerate the criminal dumping of brine and those who do will be held accountable,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. “I’m proud of Ohio EPA’s Office of Special Investigations for the work they’ve done in partnership with the members of the Northeast Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force, including the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.”
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Brad J. Beeson, following an investigation by the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, all members of the Northeast Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force.