2 Men, Corporation Accused Of Dumping Hazardous Materials - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

2 Men, Corporation Accused Of Dumping Hazardous Materials

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A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging two Ohio men and a Youngstown-based company each with one count of violating the Clean Water Act.

Benedict W. Lupo, 62, of Poland, Michael L. Guesman, 34, of Cortland, and Hardrock Excavating LLC are each accused of illegally discharging brine and oil-based drilling mud into a stormwater drain on numerous occasions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The drain flowed into the Mahoning River, according to the indictment.

The indictment also states that the incident occurred between Nov. 1, 2012 and Jan. 31.

 "We will continue to assist in the federal prosecution of this case but we will also pursue with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources any other violations of Ohio's environmental protection laws," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "This case is a reminder that we should look at making state law equal to federal law when it comes to protecting the waters of Ohio."

According to the indictment and related court documents Lupo owns Hardrock Excavating LLC, which is 2761 Salt Springs Road, in Youngstown. The company provides services to the oil and gas industry in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including the storage of brine and oil-based drilling mud. There are approximately 58 mobile storage tanks on the company's property. Each tank holds approximately 20,000 gallons.

It is alleged that Lupo directed Guesman, an employee, to empty some of the waste liquid stored at the facility into a nearby wastewater drain on or about Nov. 1, 2012, according to the indictment. Lupo allegedly directed Guesman to conduct this activity only after no one else was at the facility and only after dark.

The indictment states that Guesman emptied some of the waste liquid at the facility into the nearby stormwater drain using a hose on numerous occasions between Nov. 1, 2012 and Jan. 31.

On Jan. 31, the waste liquid emptied into the storm drain included a mixture of brine and oil-based drilling mud, according to the indictment.

A sample of the discharge taken from Jan. 31 was black in color and a subsequent analysis showed the presence of several hazardous pollutants, including benzene and toluene, according to the indictment.

If Lupo and Guesman are found guilty of violating the Clean Water Act they could be sentenced to three years in prison, one year of supervised release and be forced to pay a fine of $50,000 per day of violation or $250,000, whichever is larger.

For corporations, the maximum punishment is five years of probation and a fine of $50,000 per day of violation or $500,000, whichever is larger.

If convicted, the defendant's sentence will be determined by the court.

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