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State widens testing, probe into hexavalent chromium release, health hotline available for public

Today, state investigators widened their water sampling effort at and downstream of a release of hexavalent chromium into the Huron River system as the first test results began to come in.

Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen that can cause a number of adverse health effects through ingestion, skin contact or inhalation. Residents with questions about hexavalent chromium, potential health effects or exposures can call the MI Toxic Hotline at 800-648-6942, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Extended hotline hours will be offered this weekend, Saturday, Aug. 6 and Sunday, Aug. 7, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy sampled nine locations today, with results expected tomorrow, to help track the pollutant’s location as it moves downstream. The agency, in concert with partners from across the watershed, is developing a testing plan for coming days and weeks. State investigators also met with Tribar Wednesday to gain information about how the release occurred and other details that may help regulators better protect the public.

Inspections are also taking place within the Tribar Manufacturing facility in Wixom, where the release occurred. One goal is to better define the volume/amount of liquid containing 5% hexavalent chromium that was discharged to the sanitary sewer system from Tribar over the weekend and routed to the Wixom wastewater treatment facility. The wastewater is discharged to Norton Creek, which flows into the Huron River system.

Results of the first two tests, taken Tuesday at the mouth of Norton Creek and on the Huron River just downstream from Norton Creek, did not detect the presence of hexavalent chromium. Officials stressed that as the first two data points in what will be a lengthy testing process, those two samples aren’t sufficient to draw conclusions about the effects of the pollutant on the Huron River watershed.

Until further notice, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that all people and pets avoid contact with the Huron River water between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County. This includes Norton Creek downstream of the Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant (Oakland County), Hubbell Pond (also known as Mill Pond in Oakland County) and Kent Lake (Oakland and Livingston counties).

This recommendation may change or be expanded as additional information becomes available through test results.

For the section of the Huron River described above:

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