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Update: Hubbell Pond in Milford area focus of today’s testing

 

LANSING, Mich. – State investigators today focused on the Hubbell Pond area in Milford, where two test samples from yesterday showed a low-level presence of a toxic chemical released into the Huron River system by a manufacturing company.

Two crews from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) sampled waters upstream, downstream and within the pond Friday morning to gather more information about the potential location of hexavalent chromium, which was released from Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom last weekend.

Two samples taken Thursday detected the chemical in Hubbell Pond. They were at and below the state’s values to protect aquatic life*. The Hubbell Pond results were the only detections of hexavalent chromium from widespread sampling Thursday along the Huron River system downstream from the release. More than 30 samples were taken from varying depths from near the point of release downstream to Barton Pond in Ann Arbor.

Investigators again stressed that more data is needed to develop a more complete picture of location, movement, and concentration of the contaminant.

Liquid containing 5% hexavalent chromium was discharged to the sanitary sewer system from Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom last weekend and routed to the Wixom wastewater treatment facility. The wastewater discharges to Norton Creek, which flows into the Huron River system. Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen that can cause a number of adverse health effects through ingestion, skin contact or inhalation.

Until further notice, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that 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).

As additional water test results are received, MDHHS may expand this recommendation to other areas of the Huron River.

For the section of the Huron River described above:

Investigators are also testing sewage material within the Wixom treatment plant to determine if contamination remains bound up with the sludge inside the plant.

Officials stressed that properly constructed and permitted drinking water wells should not be directly influenced by surface water, and therefore, are unlikely to be contaminated by chromium from the river.  Hexavalent chromium from this release is unlikely to enter the groundwater. Unpermitted driven sand points and submerged irrigation pumps installed by property owners along the river may be vulnerable and should never be used for drinking water. 

EGLE staff continues the investigation to determine why the release occurred, the exact volume and product that was released, and the timeline of events.

State and local officials continue to work together to keep residents informed and answer questions. Some resources for the public include:

  • Dedicated web pages from the Oakland and Washtenaw county health departments, and the City of Ann Arbor.
  • MDHHS’ MI Toxic Hotline for questions about potential health effects or exposures. 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.
  • EGLE’s Environmental Assistance Center, a single point of entry into the agency’s programs: EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov or 800-662-9278.

*The state’s chronic aquatic life value is 11 parts per billion (ppb) of hexavalent chromium – designed to protect organisms from long-term exposure harm. Its Acute Aquatic Life Value is 16 ppb, designed to protect from short-term exposures. The samples at Hubbell Pond registered 11 ppb at the surface, and 9 ppb near the bottom.

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