Flint, MI—While a no-contact order along the Flint River has been rescinded, state officials say that Lockhart Chemical Company’s Flint facility remains in violation of environmental laws following its June chemical spill.

On Dec. 28, 2022, the Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) lifted its amended no-contact order for the Flint River, which advised the public to avoid direct contact and water activities in the river between Stepping Stone Falls and Leith Street.

“At this time, data analysis of the Flint river water shows that a no-contact order is unnecessary,” Ashley Herbig, emergency preparedness coordinator at GCHD, said in an email to Flint Beat. 

“Data will continue to be collected and reviewed by all participating agencies,” she continued. “A no-contact order will be reinstated should the data show any potential harm to the public.”

Even so, on Dec. 22, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) issued Natalie Lutz Cardiello, Lockhart’s interim bankruptcy trustee, multiple violation notices against state environmental laws. 

Cardiello has had authority over Lockhart’s facility at 4302 James P Cole Blvd. since October, when the company filed for bankruptcy.

The two violation notices from EGLE include citations of violating the order that officials served Lockhart in September 2022. At the time, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said it was the first such order to be given since 1998. 

Violations cited in the notices involve the use of the underground tunnels and an open trench, leaks at the facility, failure to submit satisfactory plans and hazardous waste management issues. 

EGLE officials wrote in the notices that the department has chosen “not to pursue escalated enforcement thus far” and stated that the trustee should remedy the violations to be in compliance with the law. 

“EGLE continues to be in frequent communication with the trustee and staff on site, and continues to conduct site inspections, to ensure the facility maintains/achieves compliance as necessary,” Jill Greenberg, an EGLE spokesperson, wrote in an email. 

Cardiello did not respond to Flint Beat’s requests for comment by press time.

According to Greenberg, it remains unclear when cleanup operations of the Flint River will be complete.

Currently, there is still a small amount of leakage at the spill’s outfall, or the location where the contaminant is seeping into the river. But, Greenberg explained, the outfall is under daily monitoring, and the booms in place appear to be successfully containing the discharge. 

Herbig added that “monitoring and river water sample testing has shown that the protective booms are effective and have held even during weather changes.”

Nicholas Chan

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...