Flint, MI—A trustee has taken control of Lockhart Chemical Company’s Flint facility following the manufacturer’s bankruptcy filing this month.
Lockhart, which is responsible for this summer’s chemical leak along the Flint River, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Oct. 10, 2022. Since then, the facility at 4302 James P Cole Blvd. has been under the possession of bankruptcy trustee Natalie Lutz Cardiello.
“Lockhart no longer has any authority over the facility,” Jill Greenberg, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), told Flint Beat in an email.
Just a few weeks prior to Lockhart’s bankruptcy filing, EGLE had issued an order to the chemical company, which among other things required that Lockhart stop using certain underground tunnels that ultimately led to the discharge of contaminated wastewater into the river.
Greenberg noted that “the bankruptcy code doesn’t nullify environmental law, and the state is focused on getting as much of the company’s assets as possible to address the conditions at the site.”
“In initial discussions with the trustee, she has indicated an intent to comply with EGLE’s order and to work with the state to resolve its environmental concerns related to the site,” Greenberg added. “EGLE will continue to actively monitor the situation and will pursue all available avenues to maintain compliance with Michigan’s environmental laws.”
Cardiello did not respond to Flint Beat’s requests for comment by press time.
A local fisherman first reported the chemical spill on the Flint River in mid-June.
After confirming the source of the spill was Lockhart, EGLE cited the company for multiple violations. But, EGLE said Lockhart did not offer sufficient responses, leading officials to escalate their actions by serving the order in September.
During a Sept. 19 press event announcing that order, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said it’s the first such order to be given since 1998. That year, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, now known as EGLE, issued an order to the City of Port Huron to control the city’s combined sewer overflow, according to Greenberg.
Greenberg said it remains unclear when cleanup operations for Lockhart’s spill will be complete.
She confirmed there is still a small amount of leakage at the outfall, or the location where the spill is seeping into the river. But the area is under daily monitoring and a series of booms remain in place, which appear to be successfully containing the discharge, Greenberg explained.
Meanwhile, a Genesee County Health Department amended no-contact order has been in place since June 27 in response to the spill. The health department continues to advise people to avoid direct contact with the Flint River between Stepping Stone Falls and Leith Street.