EPA?spokesman won’t comment on discharges

WARREN – The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency isn’t really commenting on reported public statements made Monday by one of its coordinators that Ben Lupo, owner of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating LLC, admitted to the agency he gave the OK a half-dozen times to dump oilfield waste into a storm drain in Youngstown.

Kurt Kollar, Ohio EPA site coordinator / on-scene coordinator, said Lupo acknowledged in a statement he authorized six discharges from September 2012, according to Tribune Chronicle newspartner WYTV 33 and other reports.

On Tuesday, Ohio EPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese would not comment on a possible number of discharges or how much waste was discharged, including whether the 20,000-gallon tanks that held the liquid were full when their contents were dumped into the storm sewer at 2761 Salt Springs Road, the address of D&L and Hardrock.

Abbruzzese said Kollar indicated Tuesday he did not provide a number of gallons of brine and other waste material that had been placed in the storm drain at a meeting put together by Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone.

Abbruzzese said the meeting ”turned into a media event unbeknownst to him (Kollar).”

Either way, Abbruzzese said, ”I would say that is beyond the point” because Kollar is on the scene doing cleanup and is not part of the criminal investigation into the matter

”Mr. Kollar is an emergency responder, and he is not a criminal investigator. This is an ongoing criminal investigation, and we are not going to discuss the specific allegations of this incident,” Abbruzzese said.

Part of the investigation is to determine just how much waste was dumped, Abbruzzese said.

Simultaneously, the U.S. and state EPA agencies are jointly overseeing cleanup of brine and crude oil drained into a storm sewer Jan. 31 at the Salt Springs Road address.

Records show Lupo directed employees to discard the waste into a storm sewer at Lupo’s business address. Since then, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources permanently revoked the oilfield waste disposal permits for two of Lupo’s businesses, Hardrock Excavating and D&L Energy, both with addresses at 2761 Salt Springs Road.

A message left seeking comment Tuesday from Ben Lupo was not returned.

Abbruzzese said he expects cleanup to continue into next week.

So far, crews have taken more than 100,000 gallons from storm drains and the Mahoning River during the cleanup, but officials have pointed out that amount doesn’t necessarily reflect the amount of waste that went down the drain.

Abbruzzese said some of the liquid collected has been treated and some is being collected and stored before its disposed of.

Also Tuesday, state Rep. Bob Hagan sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources asking it and Ohio EPA to release to him information related to the discharge. Hagan said the lack of forthrightness by the two agencies is ”severely distressing” and a ”shameful disservice” to the public.

Abbruzzese said the agencies received the letter and will respond to Hagan.

Business Editor Brenda J. Linert contributed to this report.