(The Center Square) – The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy along with the relief authority of the Attorney General’s Office and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, issued an order monday against Flint-based Lockhart Chemical Company.
The company must immediately stop using its sewage and storm water systems. Instead, Lockhart must pump contaminated fluids and ship them offsite for disposal.
At a Monday afternoon press conference outside the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley and EGLE communications director Hugh McDiarmid explained that the purpose of the order was to legally force Lockhart into compliance with state natural resources and environmental protection law.
The order was triggered after residents of Flint reported an oily splash on the Flint River near the Lockhart plant. An EGLE investigation found that underground tunnels carrying sewage and stormwater to an offsite facility were leaking chemicals into the nearby river and groundwater. According to Swanson, some pollutants from the plant were identified 21 miles from the source.
Although Lockhart was notified of its breach last June, the company has not resolved the issue. At that point, Nessel’s office stepped in.
“I promised the people of Flint that I would not stand by and allow any entity to endanger the health, safety or well-being of the community, and I am keeping that promise,” Nessel said in a statement. “I will not allow any company to threaten the safety of residents and the health of our environment. This company had several opportunities to solve the problems in its establishment and it refused. Now they have to face the consequences.
In addition to requiring Lockhart to ship its sewage and storm water, the order requires the company to install protective structures around the facility’s leaking pumps. Lockhart is additionally required to provide photographic documentation of its progress in bringing the company back to environmental compliance.
“This community is all too familiar with decisions made by high officials that impact people,” Swanson said in public comments Monday afternoon, referring to Flint’s water crisis. “I’m here to tell you that the decisions that were made that got us to where we are today are historic, record breaking, thanks to the people at the helm of not only Attorney General Nessel and her office, but also from EGLE, the district attorney, our friends at the DNR, our county commission, our mayor and the city of Flint.This is a true example of bureaucracies working together for the good of the people.