The state Oil and Gas Commission denied on Thursday an appeal by a Youngstown company whose owner is facing federal charges for ordering chemically-laced oilfield waste dumped into the Mahoning River watershed to operate while the state decides whether they will reinstate his injection well permits.
The Oil and Gas Commission denied the company’s request to keep the injection wells and temporary storage operations at the 2761 Salt Springs road property open until a final decision can be made.
A two-day hearing before the committee is scheduled for May 22 and 23, where the panel will hear testimony and subsequently expeditiously” make a final decision, according to the commission’s order.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources revoked six permits for brine injection wells, denied three pending injection well applications and ordered operations to stop at three temporary storage containers.
The company then filed an appeal.
D&L owner Ben Lupo, 62, was charged Feb. 14 with violating the U.S. Clean Water Act for ordering an employee to dump oilfield waste down a storm sewer that eventually flowed into the Mahoning River.
An employee, Michael Guesman, 34, of Cortland, also faces illegal dumping charges. They both could face up to three years in federal prison and millions of dollars in fines.
D&L also owned an injection well that was found to be the cause of 11 earthquakes in late 2011 and early 2012 in the Youngstown area. Those injection wells were shut down by the state. The company was cited for more than 50 violations in Ohio since the 1980s, but the Ohio Department of Natural Resources granted Lupo a permit for a new injection well on Jan. 7, according to records obtained by WKBN.COM.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings that say D&L owns assets totaling more than $50 million and expects to make more than $2 million this year. Lupo resigned his position as president of the company the day after he was indicted, but kept an 81 percent ownership in the company filings say. His wife, Holly Serensky Lupo, owns four percent and Susan Faith, of Girard, owns the remaining 15 percent.
Bankruptcy filings also say officials may have improperly diverted funds from D&L to other companies the group owns and operates.