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Thu. 2:39pm: Federal indictments issued in brine-dumping case

February 28, 2013
Tribune Chronicle |

A federal grand jury has indicted two local men investigators say were responsible for dumping oilfield brine and crude into a storm sewer, along with their company.

Indicted are Benedict W. Lupo, 62, of Poland, his company Hardrock Excavating of Youngstown and Michael Guesman, 34, of Cortland.

According to the indictment Lupo instructed Guesman to empty some of the waste liquid at the Salt Springs Road facility into a nearby wastewater drain, but only after no one else was at the facility and only after dark.

The waste liquid included a mixture of brine and oil-based drilling mud. A sample taken that night contained several hazardous pollutants, including benzene and toluene, according to the indictment.

The men and the company each face just one count of violating the federal Clean Water Act, said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, although they are accused of discharging brine and oil-based drilling mud into a stormwater drain "on numerous occasions" between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31.

"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."

The men face up to three years in prison, a year of supervised release and a fine of $50,000 per day of violation. The company faces up to five years of probation and the same fine.

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