Thu., 12:05pm: UPDATE-4 Lupo still appealing permit revocations

YOUNGSTOWN — An appeal of D & L Energy’s and Hardrock Excavating’s license revocations will be held despite the companies’ owner turning himself in to federal authorities this morning.

Ben Lupo was arraigned in U.S. Northern District on charges related to hundreds of thousands of gallons of drilling waste being dumped into the Mahoning River. He is free on $50,000 unsecured bond and waived his preliminary hearing, which means his case will be bound over to a federal grand jury.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is moving forward with an informal “show cause” hearing in Uniontown to give the company an opportunity to explain why its permits should be reinstated. The ODNR revoked operating permits last week because Lupo admitted to telling workers to illegally dump oil and drilling mud into a storm sewer on his Salt Springs Road property.

Lupo was led into court this morning in handcuffs by a special agent for the Ohio EPA. He is represented by attorneys Joseph Gardner and Leonard Schiavone. He turned himself.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agencies are expected to join U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine, Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains and ODNR Director Jim Zehringer at a 1 p.m. news conference.

A spokesman for the Justice Department said this morning that Lupo will be charged with violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Clean Water Act violation penalties include a $50,000 fine per day the violation occurs and three years in federal prison if convicted. If Lupo is convicted of violating state dumping laws, the maximum penalty is six months in jail and a fine of $10,000 on a first office and up to two years in prison and a fine of $20,000 on each subsequent offense.

Investigators had received a tip Jan. 31 that the company was dumping illegally at its Salt Springs Road complex.

Since then various agencies have been trying to clean the spill in tributaries that flow into the river.