A Flint chemical company with a history of environmental violations in Genesee County has been banned by state regulators from using its leaky sewer lines to discharge sewage from installation, following a chemical spill in the Flint River in June.
Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) issued the order against Lockhart Chemical Co. on Monday, with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announcing the action at a conference afternoon press in Flint.
Nessel said Lockhart had multiple opportunities to correct problems with its sewage and disposal systems at its Flint plant that leads to the spillage of chemicals, but she said the company had “just refused” to fix the issues.
“I made a commitment to the people of Flint not to sit idly by and allow any entity to endanger the health, safety or well-being of this community, and today, I keep my promise,” Nessel said.
“I will not allow any company to threaten the safety of residents and the health of our environment here or anywhere else.”
The action stems from a months-long investigation by EGLE, the Attorney General’s Office and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department.
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson joined Nessel in announcing the order, saying the efforts were “a true example of bureaucracies working together for the good of the people.”
The chemical spill was detected and reported by a local fisherman in mid-June. Emergency crews removed 20,000 gallons of the substance from the river and the company’s sewage system which is draining into the waterway.
EGLE used a “chemical fingerprinting” process to confirm that the oily substance in the Flint River came from the Lockhart Chemical Co. facility located on James P. Cole Boulevard not far from the river. State environmental regulators estimated several thousand gallons of the oily substance spilled into the Flint River when the spill was discovered on June 15.
Lockhart will have to pump its sewage into aboveground storage tanks until it has taken steps to repair its faulty underground sewage disposal system and correct the violations cited by EGLE.
In August, the environmental agency issued citations against Lockhart, saying the company had failed to improve operations and continued to violate its discharge permit in the weeks after the spill. Lockhart missed the September 16 deadline to resolve the issues.
Lockhart has a history of violations related to the storage of hazardous materials at its Flint site, according to state environmental records dating back to 2016.
The company did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
The spill does not affect Flint’s drinking water. The city buys water from Lake Huron in Detroit. There are no drinking water intakes in the Flint River.
Genesee County Commissioner Domonique Clemons thanked the community for speaking up and speaking up when they saw an issue, which he said paved the way for the investigation into spillage of chemicals.
Clemons said the enforcement against Lockhart showed state and local authorities were focused on holding people and businesses accountable.
“When it comes to environmental justice, often communities like Flint and Genesee County, communities of color, low-income communities, they’re the hardest hit and they’re the hardest hit and often without recourse” , said Clemons.
“We’re saying together that’s not going to happen here in Flint, that’s not how things are in Genesee County anymore.”