AG announces orders against company after Flint River contamination - Davison Index

2022-09-24 00:25:46 By : Mr. Charles Ma

FLINT — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Monday orders against Lockhart Chemical Company following a chemical spill in the Flint River, June 15.

Nessel, at a press conference held by Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, said staff from her office, the sheriff’s department and the state Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Department (EGLE) together, delivered an order on Lockhart Chemical Company, 4302 James P. Cole, Blvd., ordering them to immediately stop the use of defective wastewater and storm water conveyance systems and to pump the facilities storm water and wastewater for offsite disposal.

“Michigan residents expect business to operate in their community as good neighbors and good partners, and that partnership is made up of more than just brining money into the community,” said Nessel. “It’s being invested in the health and the vitality of the people, neighborhoods and environment. Businesses that neglect their responsibilities put people at risk.”

Swanson, acting as emergency manager for Genesee County, said the spill happened June 15 when someone fishing along the river noticed an oily sheen on water being discharged from a pipe into the river.

He said his office immediately had questions they wanted answered like who is responsible, how to protect waterways, marine life and citizens and how to keep it from ever happening again

“This community is all too familiar with decisions made by high officials that impact people,” said Swanson. “I’m here to tell you the decisions that were made that brought us to where we’re at today are historical, record-setting because of the people and leadership of not only Attorney General Nessel but also EGLE, the prosecutor, our friends at the DNR, our county commission, our mayor and the City of Flint.”

He said there are still many questions to be answered and an investigation continues into the spill, which stretched nearly 22-miles north along the Flint River, terminating almost in Montrose.

It caused authorities to issue a no contact order for the river for several days after and such an order remains in effect for the area around the pipe.

Nessel said Monday’s order was issued under Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act which requires Lockhart to immediately cease the use of leaky, underground tunnels that carry the facility’s wastewater off site for treatment.

She said EGLE used laboratory, chemical analysis – or fingerprinting – to establish the pollutants entering the Flint River near Lockhart were a match to the wastewater inside the facility.

“This action follows EGLE’s attempts to gain voluntary action by Lockhart to fix the problem, but to no avail,” said Nessel. “I will not allow a company to threaten the safety of residents and the health of our environment here or anywhere else. Lockhart was given multiple opportunities to correct these problems at their facility and they simply refused. And now, they must face the consequences.”

Also, Lockhart was ordered to place protective structures around leaking pumps and to provide photographic proof of its progress in meeting the requirements of the order.

Nessel gave praise to many of the investigators involved in the case, including Swanson.

“Never in my career have I seen a county sheriff perform this kind of investigation involving an environmental crisis,” she said.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said victims of environmental crimes are no less victims than those of violent crimes, especially when they are often people living in poverty who can’t fight back.

He called the orders announced by Nessel, “a step toward ridding our community of toxic pollution.”

Hugh McDermaid, communications manager for EGLE, said due to the “ongoing problems and poor track record of this particular company, it was appropriate we do something swiftly and aggressively to try and bring them back into compliance.”

Also present at the Monday press conference were Flint Mayor Sheldon Neely and Genesee County Commission Chairman Domonique Clemons.

According to reports, EGLE could fine Lockhart Chemical up to $25,000 a day for violations, under the order issued Monday. Further action could also be taken for failure to comply.

Lockhart could not be reached for comment.

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