Beaver Falls, PA – Downriver from Youngstown Frackwater Dumping

An article in the Youngstown Vindicator asks the question of whether or not the illegal dumping of frack wastewater in the Mahoning River by D&L Energy owner Ben Lupo (see Youngstown Wastewater Dumper Pleads Not Guilty in Federal Court) has contaminated water supplies down river—particularly in Beaver Falls, PA. Beaver Falls gets its water from the Beaver River, which in turn gets its water from the Mahoning River where the dumping took place.

According to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, Beaver Falls noticed "some problems" but the incident probably had "just a minor effect." That’s not much comfort for residents in Beaver Falls who wonder whether or not they were drinking polluted water…

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said the wastewater, which included brine, brine residue and mud, was dumped into a storm drain multiple times before an employee of Hardrock Excavating was caught Jan. 31. At the time, the employee, Michael P. Guesman, said he was told to dump the waste by Ben W. Lupo, chief executive of D&L Energy, which owns Hardrock. Both have been charged and pleaded not guilty.

Had Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection been promptly notified, it could have warned Beaver Falls to temporarily stop its water intake from the Beaver River, said John Poister, a spokesman for the DEP’s Southwest Regional Office.

“Beaver Falls noticed some problems, and they increased their charcoal purification at the plant,” said Poister. “The incident in Youngstown probably had just a minor effect. We can’t just say, when they saw some increase in the tri-chloromethane levels and some other problems there, that it was just because of Youngstown.’”

Jim Riggo, plant manager for the municipal authority, declined to comment, saying the board of directors decided to stop providing interviews because they “do not want to scare their customers.”

However, residents in Beaver Falls are used to jokes about their water.

John Haine, who’s known as the “muffin man” to regulars at Goffe’s Cafe, said when people in Ellwood City learn someone is from Beaver Falls, they tell him he’s drinking their sewage.

It may be a running joke, but Goffe takes it seriously, using filtered water at his cafe. He’s not sure what else he can do to protect his drinking water.

“It’s an important issue, but no one will talk about it,” Goffe said. “They [politicians] are not going to be transparent. I don’t think it has to do with anything new — politics is politics.”*

    *Youngstown (OH) The Vindicator (Apr 9, 2013) – Did dumping in Youngstown affect water in Beaver Falls?