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Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Dumping Toxic Fracking Wastewater Into River

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EcoWatch

By Laura Beans

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Last year, more than 14 million gallons of radioactive toxic fracking wastewater was injected into Ohio's Class II disposal wells, with more than half of the wastewater coming from out-of-state.

While some toxic fracking wastewater is injected into wells, it has also been dumped illegally into streams and rivers, contaminating Ohio's waterways.

According to The Plain Dealer, Michael Guesman, an employee of Hardrock Excavating—a company that stored, treated and disposed of oil and gas drilling waste—appeared in U.S. District Court yesterday admitting that he dumped tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River on at least 24 separate occasions.

The Plain Dealer reported that Guesman acted on the orders of his boss, owner Ben Lupo, when he ran a hose from the 20,000-gallon storage tanks to a nearby storm water drain and opened the release valve. A gusher of waste liquid left over from hydraulic fracturing operations poured into the drain, sending saltwater brine and a slurry of toxic oil-based drilling mud, containing benzene, toluene and other hazardous pollutants, flowing into the Mahoning, prosecutors said.

"It is apparent that widespread abuse of our environment has been going on for much longer than has been reported in the media," Ohio State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) told EcoWatch today.

"This plea of guilt should open us to even more information on how some in the gas and oil industry have hidden their abuse of our ecosystem and will show their total disregard for anything other than their bottom line," said Hagan. "Greed and money are really a toxic mix."

Despite this illegal dumping, according to Athens County Fracking Action Network, a permit application was submitted this week for yet another injection well for Athens County, by K&HP Partners of West Virginia. The proposed well would permit up to 4,000 barrels a day—more than 61 million gallons a year—of frack waste, most from out-of-state.

“I was shocked to see K&H has submitted an application for a second injection well," said former Athens County Children’s Services Director Andrea Reik. "If approved as expected by ODNR [Ohio Department of Natural Resources], this well will accept more than 61,000,000 gallons of toxic, radioactive frack waste annually to be pumped directly into our land.

“ODNR does not test drinking or other water around waste wells, so it has no idea how often water wells have been contaminated by the pumping of many millions of gallons of toxic, radioactive waste under our land,” continued Reik. “There is great concern being expressed statewide about this assault. Legislation has been introduced into the Ohio House—HB 148—and Senate—SB 178—to ban injection wells in Ohio."

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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