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MDHHS Lifts No-Contact Recommendation In Huron River Chemical Spill

(CBS DETROIT) -- A recommendation for no contact with Huron River has been lifted Friday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

This comes after hexavalent chromium was released by Tribar Manufacturing into the Wixom Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) the weekend of July 29. Officials say the sewer feeds WWTP, which discharged to the Huron River.

Tribar notified the city of Wixom of the chemical release on Aug. 1.

"MDHHS is lifting its no-contact recommendation for the Huron River based on testing results we have received over the past week," MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. "The collaboration between local and state officials illustrates the strong commitment our state has to the health and safety of Michigan families."

According to a press release, data from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) found that "chromium levels in the river were below levels of concern for effects on human health."

The data review found:

  • The amount of hexavalent chromium released into the Huron River was much less than originally thought.
  • The release was predominantly trivalent chromium, not hexavalent chromium. Trivalent chromium is a micronutrient that is part of humans' diet and is far less concerning from a health perspective.
  • Hexavalent chromium was not detected in the majority of the surface water samples. The detections in three samples were well below the level that could cause harm.

Officials say 146 water samples were collected throughout 42 river miles. Of those samples, only three detected hexavalent chromium and six detected chromium.

EGLE says there is no immediate threat to drinking water.

"Public health and safety are paramount to EGLE's mission," said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. While diligent sampling and testing continue on miles of the Huron River system, along with additional support of communities, the hard work and long hours of EGLE and MDHHS teams have led us to where we are today."

Earlier this week, EGLE announced it has issued violation notices to Tribar Manufacturing.

The department's Water Resources Division says Tribar violated the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, citing the company for failing to notify EGLE immediately about the discharge, sending an unauthorized discharge to the Wixom WWTP, and failure to maintain a properly updated Pollution Incident Prevention Plan (PIPP).

Tribar must submit a written response to the violation notice by Aug. 20 and provide details, such as a rundown of events before the spill, the exact time the material entered the water treatment plant and ceased, and the exact time Wixom was notified of the discharge on Aug. 1.

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