I wish someone could explain to me why an Ohio citizen was arrested on the spot and charged with a fifth degree felony for inducing panic for blocking an injection well, while a company (Hardrock Excavating) was caught red handed intentionally and illegally disposing of toxic brine, drilling mud and oil into a storm drain in Youngstown, OH. But in this case nobody was arrested on the spot.
Madeline ffitch from Athens County blocked the entrance to an injection well by inserting her arms into two fifty-five gallons drums filled with cement. Soon on the scene was the Athens County Sheriff’s Office, Albany Police, Albany Fire Department, Athens Fire Department, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Wildlife officer. These local departments were joined by the Ohio State Highway Patrol tactical team who were flown in by helicopter from Columbus to handle this one woman. Also, every supporter that had gathered to show support for Madeline was harassed by the sheriff’s office and asked for their name and social security number because they were witness to a crime. Some citizens who didn’t know better complied. Talk about an overreaction by the local and state officials.
Now compare what Madeline did trying to protect her community to the illegal dumping of toxic brine, drilling mud and oil in Youngstown. During the month of January the Ohio Department of Natural Resources had received several anonymous tips that illegal dumping was occurring but failed to investigate. (This doesn’t surprise citizens because ODNR has also ignored several complaints from citizens who have witnessed brine spills.) It wasn’t until another anonymous tip on February 1st that ODNR even went to the location. ODNR was joined by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
When the state and federal agencies approached the dumper he admitted what he was doing and informed the agencies that he had been instructed to do so by the company owner. The company owner, Ben Lupo, owns several companies including several injection wells in Ohio. One of these wells was found to have caused the earthquakes in Youngstown during 2011 and 2012.
While investigating the dumping the agencies saw a brine hauling tanker leave the scene with the company name of Mohawk on the side of the tanker. However, Mohawk did not have a license to transport brine in Ohio. In fact, Mohawk was using the UIC identification number issued to Hardrock Excavating. Yet, another illegal act.
A week after the dumping was discovered ODNR revoked all the permits for D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating. The decision by ODNR to revoke the permits can still be appealed by D&L Energy and Hardrock, which are owned by the same person who ordered the dumping.
U.S. EPA estimated 40,000 gallons of water had been removed from the Mahoning River. EPA investigators also estimated that between 1,000 and 1,500 gallons of oil had been dumped into the storm drain which drains into a tributary which empties into the Mahoning River. Communities downstream were notified that they should shut down the water intakes.
Talk about under reaction by state officials.
Who should be considered the felon here?