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Ann Arbor city council authorizes legal action against Tribar

Posted at 5:31 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 23:16:58-04

WIXOM, Mich. (WXYZ) — "Tribar's pollution of the Huron River needs to end," said Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor at the City Council meeting Thursday.

At the meeting, Ann Arbor City Council voted 10-0 to direct City Attorney Atleen Kaur to investigate all legal courses of action against Tribar for their recent chemical spill.

On Tuesday it was announced the auto-parts maker spilled 10,000 gallons of the cancer-causing compound hexavalent chromium into the Huron River, it's the second time in four years Tribar has been responsible for major pollution.

"Tribar’s periodic pollution of the Huron River is, of course, outrageous and entirely unacceptable," said Mayor Taylor.

"Our response cannot be strong enough or swift enough," said council member Jen Eyer.

The company is also responsible for the PFAs contamination in the Huron river in 2018 that resulted in the "do not eat" advisory for fish.

Nick Occhipinti, Government Affairs Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters told 7 Action News; "Now this was discovered in 2018 and actions have been taken to address it but that fish advisory still exists today."

In regards to the 2018 spill and 2022, Atleen Kaur, Attorney for the City of Ann Arbor said, "The community as a whole is quite outraged with what happened, they would like to see Tribar be held accountable."

When Tribar discharges these toxic chemicals, they go into the Wixom Sewer System.

From there, the wastewater passes through Wixom's sewage plant, then it's discharged into Norton Creek, flowing to the Huron River, upstream of where Ann Arbor draws most of their drinking water.

At this time, Ann Arbor's drinking water is safe.

Travis Radina, city council member for Ann Arbor stated, "We need to do everything in our power and our legal scope to make sure that there are consequences for this."

This latest pollutant from Tribar contains hexavalent chromium, a cancer-causing compound with many adverse side effects.

The Michigan Department of Great Lakes and Energy has been conducting water tests along the Huron River all week to detect if any of the toxic compound is present in the water.. Friday, two test samples showed a low-level presence of the chemical in Milford's Hubbell Pond.

The state is still recommending that people and pets avoid any contact with Huron River water between North Wixom road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County.

The lack of water access affects many people and businesses, this time Ann Arbor wants to see Tribar held accountable.

"Right now we’re just looking literally at all options and all legal theories available to us and watching what happens," said Kaur.

7 Action News did reach out to Tribar for an interview.

They declined but issued the following statement:

On Monday, August 1, Tribar Technologies discovered a release to the City of Wixom’s wastewater treatment plant of approximately 10,000 gallons of a 5% hexavalent chromium plating solution used in its production process at its Alpha Drive facility in Wixom, Mich. Upon discovering the release, Tribar took immediate action, including making certain the release was stopped and contacting the wastewater treatment plant. The company also self-reported the incident to the State of Michigan.

Tribar takes the health and safety of our neighbors and community, as well as the protection of the environment, very seriously. We are working with the City of Wixom and the State of Michigan on continued testing and response activity. Since Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (‘EGLE”) has processed eleven surface water samples from the Huron River system and those samples detected no presence of hexavalent chromium. Tribar continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the release and will take appropriate action to prevent a reoccurrence. We will continue to provide updates as we learn more.