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EGLE orders Lockhart to immediately stop use of leaky underground tunnels that caused/contributed to oily sheen discharged to Flint River

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) today issued an order to Lockhart Chemical Company in Flint requiring immediate action to stop use of faulty tunnels and wastewater infrastructure. The order, authorized by Michigan’s water protection laws, follows multiple failures by Lockhart to implement required fixes to its operations and infrastructure in spite of numerous EGLE requests and directives to secure compliance. 

The Lockhart facility manufactures performance additives for surface protection, and its operations include use and handling of many chemicals and produces a wastewater stream that is contaminated. EGLE investigations confirmed that wastewater leaked from Lockhart tunnels into the ground under the facility, into a storm sewer just under the tunnels, and then discharged into the Flint River. EGLE used laboratory chemical analysis, or “fingerprinting,” to match the wastewater inside the Lockhart facility to wastewater in the sewer system and in the outfall that discharged into the Flint River. 

“In Michigan, we must protect our precious waterways and we will not allow polluters to contaminate our communities,” EGLE Director Liesl Clark said. “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.” 

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 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 also is 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. 

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