Boss Who Ordered Employees to Dump Fracking Waste in River Hit
With Prison Sentence
Contractor given 28-month prison sentence, $25,000 fine by U.S.
6 August 2014
By Andrea Germanos, Staff Writer
The owner of a Youngstown, Ohio-based company was sentenced on
Tuesday to over two years in prison for ordering his employees to
repeatedly dump toxic fracking waste into a local waterway.
Between Nov. 1, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013, employees of Hardrock
Excavating LLC, which provided services to the oil and gas
industry including storing fracking waste, made over 30 discharges
of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River.
Sixty-four-year old Benedict W. Lupo, then-owner of Hardrock
Excavating, directed his employees to dump the waste, which
included benzene and toluene, under the cover of night into the
According to reporting by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "employees
tried to talk Lupo out of it, but he refused. [The judge] also
pointed out a prosecutor's pictures that detailed six weeks of
clean-up in an oil-soaked creek."
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on-scene coordinator Kurt
Kollar was among the witnesses. In his testimony he said, “There
was no sign of aquatic life, whatsoever,” in tributary right after
the fracking waste discharges, the Youngstown Vindicator reports.
According to previous reporting by The Vindicator, Lupo's lawyers
said he ordered his employees to carry out the illegal dumping in
order to keep them working because the company's wastewater wells
had been shut over connections to earthquakes.
In addition to a 28-month prison sentence, U.S. District Judge
Donald Nugent fined Lupo $25,000. The maximum sentence would have
been three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Lupo had pleaded guilty in March to violating the Clean Water Act.
Weeks later, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources permanently
revoked operating permits for Hardrock Excavating. Two employees
also previously admitted to a Clean Water Act violation. They were
given three years probation.
“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 in a statement. “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.”"
“Intentionally breaking environmental laws is not the cost of
doing business, it's going to cost business owners their freedom,”
added Steven M. Dettelbach, the United States Attorney for the
Northern District of Ohio.