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Environment


Youngstown businessman Lupo will be sentenced tomorrow in frac-waste cumping
Portrayal of the man and the deed are widely different in the federal sentencing memos
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
Ohio and the federal EPA spent some $3 million cleaning up the storm sewer, stream and river.
Courtesy of M.L. SCHULTZE
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In The Region:

The Youngstown man accused of dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River is to be sentenced tomorrow in federal court. His lawyers say he should get probation. Prosecutors say he should spend three years in prison. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on two very different views of the man and the damage he caused.

LISTEN: A deeper look at Lupo and the damage

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Benedict Lupo is 64 and has been in the drilling business for 30-plus years. His lawyer calls him a pioneer in the process known as fracking, saying that’s benefited the nation.

But this decade has not been good to Lupo. His sentencing memo says he suffers from kidney failure, hepatitis C, depression and a half dozen other ailments that affect his thinking as well as his health.

His business suffered as well in 2011 when state officials linked a series of earthquakes to a deep-injection well where he was disposing of fracking waste. Still, he kept collecting fracking fluid from drill sites, storing it in tanks on his property.

When they filled up the memo maintains Lupo didn’t want to put people out of work and acted with “his heart, not his head.” Instead, he OK’d flushing the toxic waste down the storm drain – and eventually into the Mahoning River.

A dead stream
Federal prosecutors see it differently. Their memo describes cathing an employee in the act and discovering a liquid “much like used motor oil” in the tanks. It included toluene and benzene. And 33 times over three months, tens of thousands of gallons of it had been dumped.

As an inspector followed its path, he discovered, “The creek was essentially dead.” Even the nymphs and flies that usually survive pollution were gone.

In all, the state spent $3 million on the cleanup.

 

 

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