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Ohio company accused of dumping fracking wastewater into storm drain

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 9:26 a.m.

Ohio permanently revoked operating permits of a Youngstown company under investigation for allegedly dumping up to 20,000 gallons of gas drilling wastewater down a storm drain, state officials said on Thursday.

The company, D&L Energy Group, was a business partner for oil and gas companies, including about a dozen Pennsylvania drillers, state records show. But D&L employees flushed residual waste into a sewer that empties into the Mahoning River watershed on Jan. 31, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“D&L Energy Group is currently reviewing the actions taken by ODNR relative to its companies' operating permits, and intends to respond to, and perhaps appeal, such action at the appropriate time and in the appropriate venue,” spokesman Vince Bevacqua said in a written statement. “We cannot discuss the specific circumstances of the ODNR's actions, nor our potential response, until these matters are concluded.”

Pittsburgh-area companies Consol Energy, EQT and MDS Energy and others, including Chevron and Rex Energy, tapping the state's gas-rich shale, shipped wastewater to sites D&L operated, according to Pennsylvania records. Combined, they sent nearly 600,000 barrels of waste to D&L-operated injection sites between July 2010 and June 2012, records show.

“Consol Energy is appalled by the apparent reckless nature of the recent incident at D&L's Salt Springs Tank facility,” said Lynn Seay, spokeswoman for the Cecil company.

Ohio documents show D&L directed employees to use the storm drain. The alleged dumping occurred at company headquarters. The contaminants were not waste directly from wells, but fresh water mixed with oil field residue from temporary storage containers, said Bethany McCorkle, ODNR spokeswoman.

Three years of data online show that the Pennsylvania drillers shipped waste to at least four sites now or once controlled by D&L.

Investigators said the waste could have been from several sites, McCorkle said.

Consol has a contract with one of the D&L affiliates to take waste from Central Pennsylvania but did not ship with that company on Jan. 31, she said. It halted work with the company this week on learning about the alleged dumping and won't work with any company that violates state or federal rules, Seay said.

Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or tpuko@tribweb.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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