In an incredibly rare occurrence, the owner of a gas drilling company in Ohio has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for telling his employees to dump toxic fracking wastewater into a river and then instructing them to lie in order to cover it up.
The owner of a small Ohio oil and gas drilling company who ordered his employees to dump tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River was sentenced to a 28 months of prison on Tuesday, according to a Cleveland Plain Dealer report.
U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent also ordered 64-year-old Benedict Lupo, owner of Hardrock Excavating LLC, to pay $25,000 for unlawful discharge of pollutants under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Lupo pleaded guilty to the charges in March, admitting to having his employees dump fracking wastewater into the Mahoning River tributary 33 times.
According to the Dealer, the wastewaster consisted of “saltwater brine and a slurry of toxic oil-based drilling mud, containing benzene, toluene and other hazardous pollutants.” The recurring pollution had a devastating effect on the creek’s ecosystem, according to assistant U.S. attorney Brad Beeson…The pollution ultimately flowed into the Mahoning River, which is a source of public drinking water for the cities of Newton Falls and Sebring — a combined population of more than 9,000.
If more high-ranking executives and business owners were put in prison rather than getting a fine that can be written off as the cost of doing business (and which rarely puts a dent in the money they made by breaking the law), you’d see this kind of corporate malfeasance become a whole lot less common.