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Sierra Club records bid in Ohio dumping case ends

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm •  Published: January 7, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An environmental group's public records case against state regulators has ended in a settlement agreement, with Ohio turning over documents related to the alleged illegal dumping of oil and gas drilling wastewater in northeast Ohio and paying a fine.

The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the Sierra Club's case against the state Department of Natural Resources in the wake of the deal. The department paid $2,500 in attorneys' fees and penalties and produced the records the Sierra Club's Ohio chapter was seeking related to the department's investigation of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating LLC in Youngstown.

The Natural Resources Department revoked the companies' permits in February amid a federal investigation into the dumping of up to 40,000 gallons of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing into a storm sewer that drains into the Mahoning River.

The Sierra Club alleged in a lawsuit filed in September that the state failed to produce public records it had requested six months earlier. The group's attorney, Richard Sahli, said Tuesday that the club received the documents not long after the legal action was taken; they contained few new details.

A spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Department declined to comment.

The investigation continues into allegations that Hardrock's then-owner, Ben Lupo, directed an employee to discharge thousands of gallons of drilling mud and brine into a sewer that empties into the Mahoning River watershed, a violation of the Clean Water Act. Such wastewater is supposed to be placed in an underground well piped deep into the earth.

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