Toxic chemical mixture found in groundwater, company storm sewers flowing into the Flint River



FLINT, MI – The State of Michigan claims that a Flint chemical company with a license to discharge into the Flint River appears to be responsible for the contaminated storm or groundwater that ended up in the storm sewer system of the city.

The Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy issued a Notice of Violation Sept. 21 to Lockhart Chemical Company after testing of groundwater and storm sewers in and around the The James P. Cole Boulevard plant showed elevated levels of PFAS, 1,4-dioxane, arsenic, vinyl chloride and other chemicals.

The breach, detailed in a nine-page letter to the company, gives Lockhart until October 21 to address a long list of concerns detailed by EGLE and requires a 90-day corrective action plan that may include a major upgrade or replacement of a secondary containment system at the facility.

MLive-The Flint Journal was unable to reach Raj Minhas, President and COO of Lockhart, which has been authorized by EGLE’s water resources division since November 1994.

The company has its roots in the late 1800s, when Charles Lockhart entered the Pennsylvania oil industry, according to Lockhart’s website.

After nearly a century in the steel and aluminum business, the company purchased a 13-acre chemical manufacturing site in Flint, which became the Lockhart Chemical Company.

“Today, Lockhart manufactures and markets a wide variety of additives for the formulation of rust inhibitors, corrosion inhibitors, emulsifiers and other processing additives for metalworking and metalworking worldwide. fats, ”the company’s website states.

EGLE’s Notice of Violation Says State received Lockhart sampling results in October 2019 after previous testing showed levels of concern with the potential to violate water quality standards for 1,2,3-trime thylbenzene, vinyl chloride, fluoranthene, phenanthrene and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

The testing was carried out in response to a complaint filed with EGLE about “a foul odor and unnatural discharge from an outfall to the Flint River,” according to a May 20, 2019 letter to the company.

In April, EGLE staff “checked for the foul odor and observed both unnatural color and sheen coming from the outfall,” the letter continued.

“The results indicate the unauthorized discharge into the Flint River of water contaminated with PFOS in excess of (water quality standards),” the state said in the May 20 letter.

“The sample concentrations selected for PFOS were 27 (parts per trillion) at the outlet and 24 (ppt) from the manhole,” the letter said. “The (water quality standard) (based on the value of non-cancerous drinking water to humans) for discharge to state surface waters is 11 ppt. “

“The infiltration of contaminated groundwater into the Town of Flint storm sewer system that passes under the property is a long-standing problem at the site,” the letter said.

The state’s September letter to Minhas states that Lockhart’s required corrective action plan is to address the condition of a concrete berm that serves as secondary containment for a storage tank near the employee parking lot. ‘business. The berm is “broken, with leaking polluting materials on the road”.

“Additionally, staff observed oily sheen and a chemical odor in the secondary containment area,” which is near the storm sewer, “resulting in a high potential for discharge into state water.”

The letter also says:

  • The highest concentration of PFOS from a sample taken from a storm sewer in August 2019 was nearly four times the allowable level, or 42 parts per trillion. The highest concentration of 1.4 dioxane collected in a storm sewer was more than three times the allowable level, and the highest concentration of vinyl chloride collected in a storm sewer at the same time was almost 40 times the allowable level .
  • The facility last updated its pollutant inventory on November 23, 2015, although it must be updated every three years.
  • During a state inspection on April 21, “a barium sulfonate spill occurred.”
  • The catchment area of ​​the secondary containment structure does not meet the minimum requirements and has “cracks in the pavement and separation between the joints of different flat pavement structures …”

“Spilled pollutants can escape through cracks and separations in these flat surfaces before discharging into the facility’s trenching system, which can then contaminate groundwater which may seep into the (system). Flint storm sewer) and discharge into the Flint River, ”the letter reads.

Cheri Meyer, district supervisor for the Lansing District office of EGLE’s water resources division, said the state permit for Lockhart allows the discharge of clean stormwater directly into the Flint River.

The license is in “extended status” because a renewal application is still under review. The permit was otherwise scheduled to expire on April 1, 2020, Meyer said.

Groundwater contamination on the property is a concern, she said, as it could seep into the city’s stormwater system.

“Our big concern is to make sure that pollutants do not enter the Flint River,” Meyer said.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that include PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Known as the “eternal chemicals”, PFASs are considered harmful at low parts per trillion levels in the bodies of those exposed to them. Some are known to increase the risk of kidney and testicular cancer, suppress the immune system response, and cause pregnancy complications and low birth weight.

Dioxane is classified by the EPA as likely to be carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure. It can also cause kidney and liver damage and respiratory problems.

Exposure to vinyl chloride is associated with an increased risk of a rare form of liver cancer, as well as brain and lung cancers, lymphoma and leukemia, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Read more:

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