Flint River’s no-contact order still in effect as clean-up efforts continue after spill

An order that prohibits contact with Flint River remains in effect as clean-up efforts continue.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 6:02 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) – An order that prohibits contact with the Flint River remains in effect as clean-up efforts continue.

It has been almost three months since a chemical spill in the Flint River prompted the Genesee County Health Department to issue a no-contact order.

Jill Greenberg, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) says that cleanup efforts are ongoing.

“It’s going to take a while,” Greenberg said. “It’s complicated.”

Greenberg is talking about the status of the investigation into Lockhart Chemical’s Flint River spill that happened in June. Greenberg said clean-up efforts are ongoing.

“We’ve collected 69,000 gallons of waste oil from the site, from Lockhart,” Greenberg said. “And close to 20,000 gallons of waste oil from the outfall going into the river.”

Greenberg also said that there’s a small discharge of waste oil at the outfall.

She said it’s being monitored daily and vacuumed out as necessary.

“We have booms that are containing that to the area,” Greenberg stated. “But overall, with the removal of all that waste oil, we do believe that that has been isolated.”

Given that, the Flint River is still closed to the public from Stepping Stone Falls to Leith Street in Genesee County.

The Genesee County Health Department says the reopening of the waterway is dependent on clean-up efforts and test results.

A leak in Lockhart Chemical’s secondary containment system which allowed liquid waste to enter the ground and out through a storm sewer into the river caused the oily mess.

“We’ve got engineers and members of EGLE that are working with Lockhart to figure out what happened and what can go in place to prevent that from happening again,” Greenberg said. “So that’s all part of the investigation and definitely a priority moving forward.”

Lockhart Chemical has resumed operations under a modified cease and desist order from the city of Flint.

The company is not allowed to discharge any liquid waste held in its on-site frac tanks into the city’s sewer system.

EGLE gave Lockhart an Aug. 26 deadline with a list of requested information, but the company was given an extension until Sept. 8.

The company did give a response by that date, but it is under review.

EGLE has also given the company a deadline of this Friday for updates, including plans to repair compromised pipes and manage storm-water on-site.