Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit

Michigan takes action against Lockhart Chemical after Flint River oil spill

  • Updated
  • 0
Lockhart Chemical Co.

Lockhart Chemical Co. is located on James P. Cole Boulevard in Flint.

Dana Nessel said on Monday her office is cracking down on the company after months of ignored orders.

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The company behind a massive oil spill in the Flint River earlier this summer must immediately stop using underground water disposal systems.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced an order Monday requiring Lockhart Chemical to cease the use of underground wastewater and stormwater systems immediately.

All water from the site must be pumped to surface tanks and trucked offsite for disposal. The order will remain in effect until the company addresses 36 points on a corrective action plan, which requires infrastructure repairs and upgrades.

Lockhart faces up to a $25,000 fine per day if the company fails to follow the order.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy discovered that a leak underground caused tens of thousands of gallons of an oily substance to spill into the Flint River on June 15.

A massive oil slick stretched 22 miles in the Flint River from the east side of Flint through the Flushing and Montrose areas. The Genesee County Hazardous Materials Team and state agencies launched a major cleanup effort by placing absorbent booms across the river to skim off the oil.

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said the investigation into what caused the spill has continued nonstop all summer. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she offered Lockhart Chemical to chances to correct the problem voluntarily.

However, Nessel said the company has not cooperated with state and local environmental team, leading to Monday's order.

"Lockhart was given multiple opportunities to correct these problems with their facilities, but to no avail," she said.

Lockhart Chemical has been in business on 13 acres at 4302 James P. Cole Blvd. in Flint since 1982. The company manufactures and provides underbody coatings, metalworking additives, hydraulic fluids and lubricants.

Lockhart creates a significant amount of hazardous waste through its operations, which is discharged into a system of underground tunnels and aboveground trenches toward water treatment facilities.

State environmental regulators say the oily substance in the Flint River matches chemicals found on Lockhart's property. Investigators believe an underground wastewater tunnel leaked, causing the Flint River spill. 

The city of Flint and contractors working for the state both used underground camera systems to search for leaks in the storm sewers around Lockhart's plant. They allegedly found a leak that allowed the oily substance to enter the storm sewer, which dumps into the Flint River.

However, Lockhart later claimed that the underground tunnel system is structurally sound and declined to submit plans for state regulators detailing how the company planned to make repairs.

State environmental regulators visited Lockhart again last week after a rain storm and allegedly found part of the underground stormwater system back in operation. They saw an oily substance flowing from a discharge into the river again.

"Lockhart has refused to take the necessary actions to stop the discharges of pollutants from its Facility, despite multiple opportunities," state regulators wrote in an order to Lockhart on Monday. "The September 2022 release due to a rainstorm demonstrated that oil and polluting materials reaching the Flint River from the breaches in the Lockhart System are likely to continue."

Recommended for you