The Stream, January 6, 2021: Chemical Company Dumped Contaminated Liquid Into Flint River For Years


  • The owner and president of a Flint, Michigan chemical company is being charged with dumping millions of gallons of untreated liquid into the Flint River.
  • Private investors looking to buy water rights poses a threat to United States waterways.
  • A United States federal judge dismisses a lawsuit from environmentalists challenging a water-quality permit in Louisiana.
  • Scientists say Bolivia’s Tuni glacier, which provides irrigation and drinking water, has almost entirely melted.

Heavy rains in Queensland, Australia flood rural communities.

“Unfortunately there’s still a fair bit of water lying around the place, and when I say lying – it’s flooding.” – Ergon Energy communications advisor Brett Judge. Rain from short-lived tropical cyclone Imogen continues to pour heavy rain on Queensland, Australia, ABC News reports. A severe weather warning, which has been in place in the region for days now, warns that periods of localized intense rainfall could lead to life threatening flash floods. Hundreds of residents in remote storm-hit areas were out of power for two days as of Monday as crews from Ergon Energy, a subsidiary company of a government owned energy corporation, had limited access to the rural communities due to flooding. Meteorologists say the tropical storm was unlikely to reform after downgrading to a tropical low late Monday morning and say widespread flooding could be avoided.


Four U.S. Water Stories to Watch in 2021 – The upheaval of the last year will set the stage for the next 12 months.

HotSpots H2O: Minnesota Pipeline Opponents File Federal Lawsuit to Halt Construction – Two Minnesota Ojibwe communities and two environmental organizations filed a lawsuit against the Line 3 oil pipeline in order to halt construction in that state, alleging that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the project’s water quality permit without appropriate consideration of several environmental issues.

Private Investment In Water Rights Poses Threat to U.S. Waterways

Investors interested in buying water from rural communities in the American Southwest could redefine rules that have governed water use in the United States for the last century. The New York Times reports that as investor interest mounts, leaders of Southwestern states are set to gather this month to decide the fate of Colorado River water. The river currently provides water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland. Those in favor of water buys and trades see the practice as a way to send more water to further expand populous urban areas and boost the economy, while opponents say the practice takes water from rural communities and can ruin the livelihoods of farmers in those areas.

In context: Colorado River Indian Tribes Take Another Step Toward Marketing Valuable Water in Arizona



Robert J. Massey, the owner and president of Oil Chem Inc. in Flint, Michigan, has been accused by federal prosecutors of dumping almost 50 million gallons (189 million liters) of untreated liquid into the city’s sewer system. MLive reports that Massey was charged in a U.S. District Court with a felony of knowingly violating the Clean Water Act between 2007 and 2015. In 2016, Oil Chem Inc. was cited with 30 civil infractions by the city of Flint for allegedly misreporting wastewater discharges and failing to report handling of industrial wastewater. The facility is located downstream of the spot on the Flint River where the city took in water for treatment during the Flint water crisis.


U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss dismissed a lawsuit challenging the authorization of a water-quality permit for the construction of a $9.4 billion plastic plant near historic Black cemeteries in Louisiana. Thomson Reuters Westlaw Today reports that the dismissal comes nearly two months after the Corps of Engineers suspended the permit it handed a subsidiary of Taiwanese Company Formosa Petrochemical Corp to discharge excavated soil into the Mississippi River. The Corps is now reevaluating that permit, and following the reevaluation, the agency may reinstate, modify or revoke the permit.


Scientists from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) say the disappearance of Bolivia’s Tuni glacier, which was once predicted to last through 2025, is imminent. Reuters reports that climate change has reduced the once sprawling glacier down to just one square kilometer. The loss of the Tuni glacier will likely worsen water shortages in Bolivia’s capital La Paz, which sits just 60 km (37 miles) from the glacier. The mountain ice has historically fed rivers used for irrigation of crops and at least 20 percent of the city’s water supply, the scientists said.

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