Advance Notice: Briefs

Dingell calls for EPA to act on Huron River spill

By: - August 9, 2022 2:38 pm

Sailboats sit idle on the shores of Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark, with MDHHS recommending residents avoid contact with the lake water due to a hexavalent chromium spill in the connected Huron River | Kyle Davidson

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor) is calling for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) assistance in Southeast Michigan following a chemical spill into the Huron River. 

During the weekend of July 30, Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom, Michigan released industrial chemicals containing hexavalent chromium into the sewer system leading to the Wixom wastewater treatment facility. The facility discharges into Norton Creek, which flows into the Huron River. 

Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen and can cause health issues when inhaled, ingested or put in contact with skin. 

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) speaks at the Mackinac Policy Conference, June 1, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has taken 144 samples in the Huron River since the spill, with three detecting hexavalent chromium in the water. Two detections came from Hubbell Pond in Milford, while the third came from the middle of Kent Lake. All three were at or below the state’s value to protect aquatic life.

While investigators continue to test sludge from the Wixom treatment plant, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is recommending people and pets avoid contact with the river between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County. This includes Norton Creek downstream from the treatment facility, Hubbell Pond in Milford, and Kent Lake, which is accessible through Kensington Metropark.  

DHHS also advises against using water from these areas to water plants or lawns, or drinking water or eating fish from the river.

On Monday, Dingell sent a letter to tEPA Region 5 Regional Administrator Debra Shore asking for the EPA’s direct involvement in the investigation. 

With an unknown amount of chemicals drifting toward Ann Arbor’s drinking water intake, Dingell and the city have urged the EPA to assign a on-scene coordinator, a community involvement coordinator, and an emergency response team with a laboratory and analytic support unit to address the spill. 

Dingell also noted that the state and public would benefit from the EPA’s involvement, including additional technical assistance as state agencies review testing data and the additional resources and expertise the EPA could provide. 

The congresswoman provided a list of questions, asking for details about the EPA’s involvement since the public was made aware of the spill, details regarding the spill, and if any action has been taken against Tribar to address or prevent future spills. 

“All stakeholders and every level of government must work together now to effectively identify, contain and remediate this contamination release, as well as properly hold Tribar Technologies Inc. accountable,” Dingell said in her letter.  

“Please know I stand ready to work with you and all parties to protect public health and our environment,” Dingell said.

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Kyle Davidson
Kyle Davidson

Kyle Davidson is a reporting intern for the Michigan Advance. A recent MSU graduate, Kyle studied journalism and political science. He has reported on community events, breaking news, state policy, and the environment for outlets including the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and Capital News Service.

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