Jan 29, 2007

Michigan Waste Company Blamed in 2002 Oil Spill

A Dearborn, Mich. company was indicted last week for causing a major oil spill in 2002 in both the Rouge and Detroit rivers. Three former officials were also charged for dumping industrial waste into Detroit’s sewer system.

The company indicted was Comprehensive Environmental Solutions, Inc., a liquid industrial waste treatment facility. The Federal Court in Detroit has accused the company of violating the federal Clean Water Act from March 2002 to the present.

The most serious charge is obstruction, which could result in a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

In April of 2002, more than 60,000 gals of used industrial oil overflowed into the Rouge and Detroit rivers after a rainstorm. The waste ended up in Lake Erie, and cost $2.2 million to clean up. This was the largest spill in the Great Lakes in 12 years.

The Detroit Free Press reported that among those charged were Michael G. Panyard, former president of the company, Bryan S. J. Mallindine, former CEO, and former oil recovery manager, Charles D. Long. Donald Kaniowski, another employee, plans to plead guilty.

Those being charged are accused of ordering employees to discharge millions of gallons of liquid industrial waste into the sanitary sewers without treatment. This would then dilute the discharges to get by pollution monitoring equipment. The men are also charged with falsifying records and lying to investigators.