LOWELLVILLE - A criminal investigation is being conducted by several agencies after an accusation was made of illegal dumping by a company that treats contaminated soil.
Mike Settles, a spokesman for the Ohio EPA, confirmed that several agencies are part of the investigation of Soil Remediation Inc. on Arrel Smith Road.
A search warrant was served against the company Tuesday by members of the the Northeast Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force, which is made up of several state and federal agencies that investigate possible environmental crimes, as well as the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
Settles said the investigation is unrelated to civil violations at the company in 2008, but as the investigation continues perhaps some of the same elements in those complaints will pop up.
''There have been a number of violations out there over the years,'' Settles said.
A person who answered the phone at Soil Remediation Inc. hung up Thursday when the caller identified himself as a reporter. Records list the owner of the company as David Gennaro, who is also the owner of Gennaro Pavers which is also on Arrel Smith Road.
A person answering the phone at Gennaro Pavers said Gennaro is out of town and will not be back until next week.
The current investigation was spurred by a Nov. 30, 2011, anonymous complaint that brine and contaminated soil were being dumped at the site, Settles said.
A search warrant filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court states that state authorities were alerted in March by Pennsylvania officials that well drilling companies there were shipping drill cuttings, drilling liquids and brine to Soil Remediation.
Truck drivers on April 10 and April 15 stated that they hauled many loads of waste from gas and oil well sites and the waste was either dumped on the ground or in a hole in the ground. The waste was contaminated with oil-based drilling mud, the search warrant states.
The company does not have a permit or license to accept those types of waste, the search warrant states. The warrant does not say what investigators found when they served it but it does list property taken, including notes, records, computer hard drives and 28 different samples from throughout the property.
The state EPA inspected the facility on Feb. 29, 2012, in response to the November 2011 complaint and found several violations, according to EPA files. Among the violations were improper storage of contaminated soil, leaky oil drums, improper placement of equipment to clean up the leaks, burial of solid waste in a restricted area and that some contaminated stormwater runoff was being discharged into ''waters of the state,'' or public wetlands, streams or other waterways.
The company was to submit a list of how it would correct the violations; a failure to do so could have resulted in a fine of up to $10,000 per day per violation, the EPA said in a letter detailing the inspection.
Settles said the company also was cited in 2008, following allegations made in 2005 by the Mahoning County District Board of Health that the company lacked the necessary state storm water controls and a discharge permit.
The investigation of that complaint also found that the site had been accepting solid waste from a Weirton, W.Va., steel mill since 2003 but made no efforts to get permission to reuse the waste or dispose of it, which put it in violation of Ohio's solid waste regulations.
Those wastes were discharged into the Mahoning River and a nearby tributary of the river, according to the 2008 complaint.
Soil Remediation was ordered to get permission from the state to reuse solid waste and needed to supply several different types of records to the state for one year. They also were fined $23,000, although some of that fine was suspended.