Sierra Club seeks records Sues to get info on brine

COLUMBUS – An environmental group seeking documents related to alleged illegal dumping of wastewater from oil and gas drilling into a Youngstown storm sewer is suing the state for access to the records.

The Sierra Club filed its suit Monday in the Ohio Supreme Court. The group alleges the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has failed to produce public records it requested six months ago.

The club’s Ohio chapter is seeking documents related to the department’s investigation of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating in Youngstown.

The department revoked the firms’ permits in February amid a federal investigation into the dumping of up to 40,000 gallons of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing into a storm sewer that drains into the Mahoning River.

A spokeswoman said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

The company’s one-time owner, Benedict Lupo of Poland, is facing federal criminal charges in the case, and a second man, former Hardrock employee Michael Guesman of Cortland, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Investigators said Lupo told them he ordered Guesman to dump the brine into a storm sewer that eventually led to the Mahoning River. Cleanup went on for weeks after the dumping was uncovered.

Lupo was scheduled to appear in federal court in Cleveland on Monday for a pretrial hearing.