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Owner of Oil Chem pleads guilty to violating Clean Water Act in Flint

Email says shift to Flint River made too quickly
Posted at 2:09 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 14:09:06-05

FLINT, Mich. — The president and owner of Oil Chem Inc. pleaded guilty in federal court in Flint to a criminal charge of violating the Clean Water Act, a news release announced Thursday.

It stems from illegal discharges of landfill leachate – totaling more than 47 million gallons – into the City of Flint’s sanitary sewer system over eight-and-a-half years.

Robert J. Massey, 69, of Brighton, pleaded guilty on Thursday before U.S. District Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis in the Eastern District of Michigan.

Sentencing has been scheduled for May 14.

Oil Chem, located in Flint, processed and discharged industrial wastewater to the city’s sewer system.

The company held a permit issued by the City of Flint under the Clean Water Act, which allowed it to discharge certain industrial wastes within permit limitations.

The city’s sanitary sewers flow to its municipal wastewater treatment plant, where treatment takes place before the wastewater gets sent to the Flint River.

The treatment plant’s discharge point for the treated wastewater was downstream of the location where drinking water was taken from the Flint River in 2014 and 2015.

Oil Chem’s permit did not allow for discharging landfill leachate waste, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court.

Massey also failed to tell the city when Oil Chem started to release this new waste stream, which the permit also required.

He directed employees to begin releasing the leachate at the close of business each day, which allowed the waste to flow from a storage tank to the sanitary sewer overnight.

From January 2007 through October 2015, Massey arranged for Oil Chem to receive almost 47.8 million gallons of landfill leachate from eight different landfills in Michigan.

One of those landfills was found to have chemicals known to be hazardous to human health and the environment.