State issues multiple violation notices to Tribar Manufacturing after Huron River spill

Huron River chemical spill
Posted at 12:19 PM, Aug 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 12:26:30-04

(WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has issued several violation notices to Tribar Manufacturing following the company's improper disposal of cancer-causing compound hexavalent chromium.

RELATED: Huron River Spill: What is hexavalent chromium and how dangerous is it?

According to the state, the company released several thousand gallons of liquid containing hexavalent chromium to the Wixom Sewage Treatment Facility which discharges into the Huron River.

Environmental watchdogs urge caution with new, legacy threats of contamination

Since last week the state has been testing the river for signs of contamination. Since the chemical release, 144 water samples were taken on 42 river miles. Three of those samples came back with detections of hexavalent chromium — two on Milford Pond and one in the middle of Kent Lake.

The detections on Kent Lake from lab analysis Friday found 5 parts per billion. The two on Hubbell Pond detected 11 and 9 parts per billion. The detectable limit is 5 parts per billion, EGLE said. The three samples were at or below values to protect aquatic life.

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.

RELATED: EGLE: Hexavalent chromium not detected on Huron River system downstream
RELATED: More test results from Huron River samples expected Friday

EGLE’s Water Resources Division (WRD) has cited Tribar for violations including:

  • Failing to immediately notify EGLE immediately after discovering the discharge as required under the law and their industrial user discharge permit.
  • Sending an unauthorized discharge of pollutants to the wastewater treatment facility that resulted in interference to the treatment process, violating pretreatment rules in the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA).
  • Failure to maintain a properly updated Pollution Incident Prevention Plan (PIPP) and failing to certify compliance with NREPA rules regarding spillage of oil and polluting materials.

WRD gave the company until August 20 to respond in writing to the violation notices, including responses to a series of questions designed to determine exactly what happened and when.

The Air Quality Division (AQD) also issued violations to the Wixon company.

The AQD notice includes multiple instances of records not being kept as required in the company’s air permits.

Because records were not upheld, they say the company could not show compliance with several pollutants, including volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants.

They say the company was also uncertain of how much chemicals were used in certain time frames.

AQD violations include:

  • Metal treatment tanks not being properly controlled, which may have allowed unauthorized emissions of nickel and total chrome.
  • Failure to keep proper records that would document compliance with air permit conditions for various processes.

The company has until Aug. 30 to submit explanations to AQD of how the violations occurred and what actions are being taken to resolve them.

According to EGLE investigators, repeated requests by EGLE have not been adequately addressed by Tribar.

Due to the seriousness of the violations, EGLE has initiated accelerated enforcement, which will initiate an administrative consent order process and seek full cost recovery from Tribar.