An Ohio Department of Natural Resources inspector said that when he went to a Belmont County farm on May 16, he found "what appeared to be oil-based mud that had been discharged directly onto the ground," along with standing water that also may have contained well drilling waste.
That has prompted the ODNR to consider charges against a St. Clairsville firm allegedly responsible for the illegal dumping. A company attorney has requested a hearing on the matter.
Obviously, no one should jump to conclusions in the case. But if the St. Clairsville firm's employees engaged in illegal dumping on company orders, the repercussions should be severe.
Such dumping is illegal, not to mention harmful to the environment.
Gas and oil drilling has proved to be a boon for thousands of area residents. But most in East Ohio want to ensure the region's resources are exploited without damaging the environment.
Anyone who does so knowingly should be punished severely - and prohibited from such work in the future.