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AG Nessel Announces State Order Against Lockhart for Pollution of Flint River

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced the issuance of an Order by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to Lockhart Chemical Company in Flint that requires the company to immediately stop use of defective wastewater and stormwater conveyance systems and to pump the facility’s wastewater and stormwater for offsite disposal.

The Order, authorized under Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, requires Lockhart to immediately cease use of leaky underground tunnels that carry the facility’s wastewater offsite for treatment. EGLE used laboratory chemical analysis “fingerprinting” to establish that the pollutants entering the Flint River near Lockhart are a match to the wastewater inside the facility.

The Department of Attorney General worked cooperatively with EGLE to assess observations and complaints from the community and environmental data that was gathered by the State in response to calls from the community. EGLE’s inspections and laboratory analysis of samples both inside and outside the facility confirmed that Lockhart is the source of oily sheen and other polluting materials in the Flint River. EGLE sought voluntary action from Lockhart prior to issuing the Order, but after several meetings and efforts to prompt serious action by Lockhart, the company did not fix the problems.

“I made a promise to the residents of Flint that I will not stand by and allow any entity to endanger the health, safety or welfare of the community, and I am keeping my promise,” said Nessel. “I will not allow a company to threaten the safety of residents and the health of our environment. This company was given multiple opportunities to fix the problems at their facility and they refused. Now they must face the consequences.”

The Order requires Lockhart to immediately stop using specific underground tunnels that EGLE confirmed leaked contaminated wastewater into the soil and then into storm sewers, which then emptied into the Flint River. Lockhart is further required to pump its wastewater into aboveground tanks for disposal offsite unless or until Lockhart implements approved fixes to its system, such as lining the tunnels and other conveyances for wastewater. Lockhart is also ordered to put protective structures around leaking pumps on the facility and to provide photographic documentation of its progress in meeting the requirements of the Order.

The Order was served on Lockhart earlier today by EGLE, the Department of Attorney General and the Genesee County Sheriff. A copy of the order is available here.