Lockhart Chemical ordered to stop using defective systems for offsite disposal

Crews continue to clean, investigate Flint River following chemical spill
Crews continue to clean, investigate Flint River following chemical spill
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 1:58 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2022 at 3:07 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - Lockhart Chemical Company has been ordered to immediately stop using defective wastewater and stormwater conveyance systems for offsite disposal, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The order requires Lockhart to immediately stop using leaky underground tunnels that carry the facility’s wastewater offsite for treatment. It was authorized under Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

The order comes three months after a chemical spill was identified in the Flint River. Thousands of gallons of waste oil have been collected, and officials believe it has been isolated.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) used laboratory chemical analysis “fingerprinting” to establish that the pollutants that went into the Flint River near Lockhart match the wastewater inside the facility.

EGLE confirmed contaminated wastewater leaked into the soil and then into storm sewers, which then emptied into the Flint River.

Lockhart is required to pump its wastewater into aboveground tanks for disposal offsite unless or until the company fixes its system, including lining the tunnels and other conveyances for wastewater.

Lockhart is also ordered to put protective structures around leaking pumps in the facility and to provide photos of its progress to meet the requirements from the order.

Lockhart Chemical operated under a modified cease and desist order from the city of Flint. The company was not allowed to discharge any liquid waste held in its on-site frac tanks into the city’s sewer system.

The Attorney General’s Office worked with EGLE to assess observations and complaints from the community and environmental data that was collected by the state.

EGLE’s inspections and analysis of the samples from the facility confirmed that Lockhart is the source of the oily sheen and other polluting materials in the Flint River, the Attorney General’s Office said.

EGLE asked for voluntary action from Lockhart before the order was issued, but the company did not fix the issue following several meetings and efforts.

“I made a promise to the residents of Flint that I will not stand by and allow any entity to endanger the health, safety or welfare of the community, and I am keeping my promise,” Nessel said. “I will not allow a company to threaten the safety of residents and the health of our environment. This company was given multiple opportunities to fix the problems at their facility and they refused. Now they must face the consequences.”

The Genesee County Health Department issued a no-contact order for the Flint River since the chemical spill from Stepping Stone Falls to Leith Street.