D&L wants state to restore its permits

YOUNGSTOWN -D&L Energy officials are arguing their company is being “punished for the conduct of the employees of another company, Hardrock Excavating, LLC,” in an appeal filed Monday fighting for the return of its state permits.

“Although other companies and their employees are the responsible parties, D&L Energy has voluntarily undertaken all cleanup requested by the state and federal on-site coordinators to remedy any pollution resulting from the actions of others at its own cost amounting to almost $1 million,” D&L Energy’s attorney, Michael A. Cyphert, said in the motion filed Monday with Ohio’s Oil and Gas Commission. “No determination has been made that D&L Energy’s injection wells are adversely affecting the health of persons or the environment.”

Both D&L Energy and Hardrock are owned and operated by the same person, Benedict Lupo, 62, of Poland, who is facing criminal charges stemming from accusations that he ordered a Hardrock Excavating employee to empty untreated oilfield waste into a storm sewer that eventually drained into the Mahoning River.

Lupo and that employee, Michael P. Guesman, of Cortland, are scheduled to appear March 15 before Magistrate Judge George Limbert in U.S. District Court in Youngstown to face one count each of violating the federal Clean Water Act.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources last month stripped both Hardrock and D&L Energy of their licenses to haul and dispose of oilfield waste. D&L now is appealing that order and asking the division’s chief to grant a stay to the order that the company cease activities immediately.

In the appeal, D&L Energy is seeking reinstatement of its permits, approval of its three permit applications that had been pending but were immediately denied and permission to continue temporary storage operations on the Salt Springs Road property.

D&L operates six saltwater injection wells in Ashtabula, Mahoning and Trumbull counties. Injection wells are deep wells in which oilfield waste and brine is injected for permanent disposal.

It is unclear how long it will take for a ruling on the appeal. Attempts to reach ODNR officials for comment on Monday were not successful.

Richard J. Simmers, chief of the Ohio Division of Mineral Resources Management for ODNR last week ruled against Hardrock Excavating following an informal hearing in which Hardrock Excavating attorneys argued against the revocation order.

That company may file a formal appeal within 30 days of the Feb. 27 order with either ODNR’s Oil and Gas Commission or in Franklin Common Pleas Court.