Flint, MI—Officials are escalating their actions against Lockhart Chemical Company, which is responsible for the chemical spill along the Flint River in mid-June.
“We are embedded in making sure this doesn’t happen again and part of that is holding people accountable,” Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said at a press conference on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.
On Monday, the Office of Genesee County Sheriff, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), and the Department of Attorney General, served an order on Lockhart. The order requires the company to immediately cease using specific underground tunnels that ultimately led to the discharge of contaminated wastewater into the Flint River, among other requirements.
“I made a commitment to the residents of Flint that I would not stand by and allow any entity to endanger the health, safety or welfare of this community,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “Today, I am making good on my promise.”
Lockhart is also required to pump its wastewater into aboveground tanks for disposal offsite, unless or until the company fixes its system.
“In Michigan, we must protect our precious waterways and we will not allow polluters to contaminate our communities,” EGLE’s Director Liesl Clark said in a statement. “EGLE tried to get Lockhart to play by the rules that apply to all businesses that handle and use chemicals like this, but the ongoing problems and Lockhart’s poor track record of compliance indicated that swift action was needed to prevent another discharge into the river, or worse.”
Failure to comply with the order may lead to further enforcement against Lockhart, and EGLE could request the Attorney General to begin civil action.
Following the June spill, Lockhart was cited by EGLE in mid-August for a number of violations, but EGLE states that the company did not offer sufficient responses.
EGLE had already cited Lockhart for various violations over the years, and the order notes that the facility “has a long-running history of problems with operations and maintaining compliance with environmental protection laws.” Lockhart did not respond to Flint Beat’s request for comment as of press time.
Meanwhile, the Genesee County Health Department’s amended no-contact order remains in place, and the health department advises the public to avoid contact with the Flint River from Stepping Stone Falls to Leith Street.