Lockhart Chemical Cited for Flint River Spill

Aug. 22, 2022
According to the order, Lockhart caused a pretreatment system bypass at its plant.

Lockhart Chemical, which spilled thousands of gallons of an oil-based substance into the Flint River in June, is cited for multiple violations of its operating permit by Michigan.

"Lockhart manufactures and markets chemical additives including sulfonates, emulsifiers, rust prevention additives, corrosion inhibitors and additives for metalworking fluids and greases in Flint," according to the company’s website, reported The Flint Journal.

“Lockhart continues to operate in a manner that results in discharges to the ground and surface waters of the state,” said Cheri Meyer, a district supervisor with the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, in a letter to Lockhart, reported The Flint Journal. 

According to the Aug. 16 violation notice and Aug. 18 violation notice, the company:

  • Discharged stormwater and groundwater contaminated with PFOS, 1.4-dioxane, arsenic, vinyl chloride, fluoranthene and phenanthrene above allowed water quality values;
  • Has allowed for continuous discharge of petroleum products and white residuals into groundwater and/or the Flint River;
  • Failed to report the release of wastewater to a secondary containment area and failed to formally notify the state of the release to the river;
  • Did not formally furnish documentation after the polluting material was confirmed to have originated from Lockhart; 
  • Restarted boilers without fully delineating the direct connections or leaks to the storm sewer from the company’s operations; And
  • Submitted an updated stormwater pollution prevention plan that fails to address new and outstanding exposures at the facility.

According to the notice, the company still "has secondary containment that is not in compliance with state rules, has an inadequate pollution incident prevention plan, and failed to report the discharges above the reporting quantity threshold in both June and July, " reported The Flint Journal.

It was observed on Aug. 2 that the container had not been cleaned or removed and was left on a sheet of plastic, reported The Flint Journal. Then, rain washed the material off the container.

Two spills of canola oil occurred Aug. 8. A spill of Sulfomed A 450 occurred in July as well. 

The company restarted its boilers since the river spill, going against Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley’s announcement of a cease and desist order to cease sewer discharges after the spill, reported The Flint Journal.

According to the order, Lockhart caused a pretreatment system bypass at its plant. The city modified the order Aug. 18, allowing the company to resume discharges under the terms of its permit. However, any liquid held in tanks on site must not be discharged to the sanitary or stormwater sewers.

Additionally, "the modified order requires testing of discharges for total volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, PFAS, PCBs and other materials," reported The Flint Journal.

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Cristina Tuser