Hagan fires off at EPA director

YOUNGSTOWN – State Rep. Robert Hagan on Tuesday reacted angrily to the environmental threat caused by the disposal of drilling brine into a storm sewer.

In a letter Hagan released to the media, the Youngstown Democrat directed his frustration at Scott Nally, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Noting that the waste ”may well contain oil and brine water laced with toxic chemicals, poses a clear and present danger to the citizens of the Mahoning Valley, as it had made its way into a tributary that feeds the Mahoning River,” Hagan wrote.

”While I understand that cleanup efforts are currently under way, I am appalled by not only the recklessness of the illegal dumping, but also of the secrecy and lack of communication and transparency surrounding the incident.

”Why did it take the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency four days to release just a cursory statement that provides little detail or insight into the dumping fiasco? And why do elected officials from Youngstown, myself included, continue to be kept in the dark on specifics?” Hagan wrote.

Hagan said the matter “calls into question whether Ohio’s regulations, oversight, and emergency response procedures are adequate for protecting our environment and communities from oil and gas related disasters.”

In response, Chris Abbruzzese, deputy director for communications for the Ohio EPA, said the agency had kept in close contact with local responders and had focused its attention on cleanup and investigation.

”The important thing to note, the material has been contained and the cleanup is taking place, and we at the Ohio EPA are sharing all our resources with the contractor on site to make sure the area gets cleaned up,” Abbruzzese said. ”We take the containment and the cleanup of this very seriously, so that was really our primary focus.”

He added that during an ongoing criminal investigation, information releases becomes even more cautious so that the investigation is not jeopardized.