Advance Notice: Briefs

State health dept. lifts no-contact recommendation after Huron River chemical spill

By: - August 15, 2022 12:43 pm

Canoes on the banks of the Huron River in Milford, Aug. 10, 2022 | Kyle Davidson

After almost two weeks, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has lifted its no-contact recommendation on parts of the Huron River following a chemical spill.

On the weekend of July 29, Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom released hexavalent chromium into the Wixom Sewage Treatment Facility, which feeds the Wixom wastewater treatment plan, which discharges into the Huron River system. 

Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen and can cause negative health effects if ingested, inhaled or through contact with skin.

After reviewing data from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, DHHS has lifted its no-contact recommendation for areas of the Huron River between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County. The recommendation included Norton Creek, downstream from the Wixom wastewater treatment plant, Hubbell Pond in Milford and Kent Lake, which is accessible through Kensington Metropark. 

In reviewing the data, DHHS found chromium levels in the river were below levels of concern for effect on human health. The amount of chromium released into the Huron River was also much less than originally thought. 

The data also revealed the release was mostly trivalent chromium, which is a micronutrient that is part of human diets.

Hexavalent chromium was not detected in 143 of the 146 samples taken throughout the Huron River. The three samples that contained the chemical were well below the threshold that could cause harm. 

The spill poses no immediate threat to drinking water, with the closest drinking water intake on the Huron River located in Ann Arbor. The city has been notified of the release and the state will continue sampling for hexavalent chromium three times at locations upstream from Barton Pond, where the intake is located. There will also be testing once a week for PFAS, a hazardous group of chemicals which can cause multiple harmful health effects for humans and animals. 

Test results will be available online at Michigan.gov/EGLETribarResponse.

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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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