Warren man charged with violating the Clean Water Act
A former employee of a Youngstown-based company was charged with violating the Clean Water Act for directing another employee to dump fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River, said Carole S. Rendon, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
David N. Jenkins, 34, of Warren, was charged via criminal information with one count of making unpermitted discharges in violation of the Clean Water Act.
According to the indictment and related court documents:
Hardrock Excavating LLC was owned by Benedict Lupo and located at 2761 Salt Springs Road in Youngstown. The company provided services to the oil and gas industry in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including the storage of brine and oil-based drilling mud used in hydrofracturing, or fracking.
There were approximately 58 mobile storage tanks at the facility and each held approximately 20,000 gallons.
Lupo directed employees to empty some of the waste liquid stored at the facility into a nearby wastewater drain on or about Nov. 1, 2012. Lupo directed the employees to conduct this activity only after no one else was at the facility and only after dark.
The employees, at Lupo’s direction, emptied some of the waste liquid at the facility into the nearby stormwater drain using a hose on numerous occasions over the next several months. The drain flowed into a tributary of the Mahoning River and ultimately into the Mahoning River.
On occasion, Lupo was unable to speak directly to employees. In those instances, Lupo directed Jenkins to contact the employees about emptying the stored waste liquids into the stormwater drain at night, which Jenkins did.
The last time an employee emptied some of the waste liquid into the drain was on or about Jan. 31, 2013. The waste liquid that night included brine and drill cuttings. A sample of the discharge taken that night was black in color and a subsequent analysis showed the presence of several hazardous pollutants, including benzene and toluene.
Lupo, of Poland, Ohio, was previously found guilty of making an unpermitted discharge and sentenced to more than two years in prison.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Beeson following an investigation by the Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, U.S. EPA, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Youngstown Department of Public Works and the Youngstown Fire Department.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.