News Feature | September 4, 2014

Fracking Operator Sentenced To Over 2 Years In Jail For Water Violation

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

gavelreg

A fracking operator in Ohio is heading to jail because he contaminated local water sources with fracking waste. 

"Ohio fracking company owner Benedict Lupo had a choice: He could dispose properly of byproducts from his drilling operation, or he could have his employees dump the wastewater in a local creek. He chose the latter. The employees tried to talk him out of it; he insisted. Then he did it again 32 more times, killed everything in the creek, got caught, and will now go to jail for 28 months," Slate reported.

The action resulted in a fine, as well. "U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent [fined Lupo], 64, of suburban Poland $25,000. Nugent rejected defense attorney Roger Synenberg's request for home detention and a harsh fine," the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported

Lupo is ill and his attorney said jail time could kill him. "If he goes to jail, it's the death penalty for him,'' Synenberg said, per the Plain Dealer

Opponents stressed that a strong punishment is warranted. 

"Ben Lupo put his own interests ahead of everyone else's, and he deserved to face a severe penalty for his actions," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said, per WKYC. "The recent water crisis in Toledo is a grave reminder of how important it is to protect our waterways. Those who commit crimes against the environment jeopardize the health and safety of Ohioans, and our natural resources and wildlife. They must be held accountable."

Lupo's actions took a severe toll on the environment.

“There was no sign of aquatic life, whatsoever [in the creek immediately after the discharges]," Ohio EPA official Kurt Kollar said, per the Youngstown Vindicator. “A river is only as healthy as the tributaries that feed it."

Photos presented by Kollar showed "oil in the storm drain adjacent to Lupo’s tanks, in the creek into which it flowed and in the Mahoning River itself; and documented the cleanup process, including cleaning of the sewer, use of containment booms and absorption pads in the creek and the river, and excavation of contaminated sediment from the creek," the report said. 

For more oil and gas news, check out Water Online's Produced Water Solution Center

Image credit: "My Trusty Gavel," Brian Turner © 2009, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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