Business owner gets 1 year sentence for dumping industrial waste into Flint’s sewer system

Brighton-resident 70-year-old Robert Massey pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act

Flint business owner gets 1 year sentence for dumping industrial waste in sewer
Flint business owner gets 1 year sentence for dumping industrial waste in sewer

FLINT, Mich. – The man found guilty of dumping 47 million gallons of industrial waste into Flint’s sewer system was sentenced to one year in prison.

READ: Owner of Oil Chem Inc. sentenced for illegal dumping of waste into Flint sewer system

“I think the sentence was a little light for the years of abuse he has put into our environment,” said Flint mayor Sheldon Neeley.

Prosecutors claim Robert Massey illegally dumped the waste for nearly 10 years. Neeley said he’s tired of his community becoming a dumping ground for environmental lawbreakers.

“We won’t know what happens in the long-term effects of his failures for a very long time,” Neeley said.

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.”

From Oil Chem. Ink.'s website on Jan. 13, 2020. (WDIV)

Federal prosecutors said Oil Chem Inc. accepted tanker truckloads of landfill leachate from different landfills. Court documents claim Massey directed Oil Chem employees to discharge the leachate at the close of each business day, which allowed the waste to flow from a storage tank to the sewer system.

At least one of the landfills contained PCBs, which are known to be hazardous to human health.

“Bottom line is they discovered they cause cancer,” said Bill Topolski, with Brighton Analytical. “There is no treatment for PCBs. They are a forever chemical.”

Neeley is concerned the effects of Massey’s crime will last longer than his sentence.

“This went on for the better part of a decade before he was stopped,” Neeley said. “But definitely, the crime he has committed will go on for a long time until we can remediate this in our environment.”

Massey pled guilty on Jan. 14 to violating the Clean Water Act.

READ: Chemical company accused of illegally dumping truckloads of waste into Flint sewer system


About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.