A company is accused of illegally discharging nearly 48 million gallons of waste from landfills into Flint sewer system.
According to federal prosecutors, that illegal dumping from Oil Chem. Inc. happened between 2007-15.
The company is expected to return to court Thursday.
Federal documents claim the owner of the company, Robert Massey, accepted tanker-trunks of landfill leachate from eight different landfills and then dumped them into Flint’s sewer system -- a violation of the Clean Water Act.
Flint is no strangers to environmental messes. The city gained national attention during the Flint Water Crisis.
“The city of Flint has had more of its fair share of this type of environmental injustice,” said Mayor Sheldon Neeley. “We have a duty and a responsibility to make sure our environment is safe.”
At the center of the controversy is Oil Chem. Inc., a specialty lubrication manufacturer. According to its website, Oil Chem. “firmly believes” they are “obligated to care for the environment.”
According to federal documents, Oil Chem. endangered the environment with years of illegal dumping into Flint’s sewers. Prosecutors said Oil Chem. accepted landfill leachate by the truckloads from multiple landfills, including on that contained polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) -- a toxic group of chemicals known to he hazardous to human health.
“Bottom line, they discovered they cause cancer,” said Bill Topolski, director of the Brighton Analytical Lab. “There is no treatment for PCBs. They are a forever chemical.”
Documents state Oil Chem. employees routinely drain untreated landfill liquid “directly from the tank into the city of Flint’s sanitary sewer.”
“Jail time and a fine? Give him both,” said Flint resident Joe Fisher. “It’s a real serious problem.
Fisher isn’t the only resident who is frustrated with the city dealing with another environmental water issue.
“We will hold you accountable to the full letter of the law,” said mayor Sheeley. “We will come looking for you, actively seek you out to make sure you don’t damage this environment.”
Local 4 Defenders reached out to the owner of Oil Chem. Inc, Robert Massey, and were told through his attorney he was not interested in commenting on the case.
It isn’t the only time Oil Chem. Inc. has been cited. Back in 2016, the company was cited with 30 civil infractions by the city of Flint on allegations of misreporting of wastewater discharges.
New plea deal
Massey accepted a plea deal in federal court on Thursday, Local 4 learned. He pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly being in violation of the clean water act. He is expected to spend no more than 24 months in prison as part of the deal. He will be sentenced May 14.
His attorney said he wanted to move forward with the case and resolve the matter because his client and his client’s family have been receiving threats from the community. Michigan State Police is investigating this.
Massey’s attorney said people believe this affects Flint’s drinking water, but that it does not.
The full court document can be read below.