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Officials urge residents to avoid section of Huron River after hexavalent chromium spill

Posted at 4:45 PM, Aug 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-02 23:45:13-04

(WXYZ) — Officials are urging residents in Monroe, Oakland, Livingston, Wayne and Washtenaw counties to avoid the Huron River between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County until further notice after a reported spill of hexavalent chromium.

The Michigan departments of Health and Human Services, along with Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and local officials are recommending that all people and pets avoid contact with the river in that section. This includes Norton Creek downstream of the Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant, Hubbell Pond (Mill Pond) and Kent Lake.

According to the MDHHS, hexavalent chromium was released from Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom to the Wixom Sewage Treatment Facility. The state says the sewer feeds the plant, which then discharges to the Huron River system. Hexavalent chromium is reportedly a known carcinogen that can cause health issues through ingestion, skin contact or inhalation.

“This recommendation is being made to help protect the health and safety of families who live, work and play in the Huron River in the affected area,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director, in a press release. “As we gather additional information through sampling, this recommendation may change or be expanded.”

The spill affected areas like Kensington Metropark.

Park visitor Ritta Sayah told 7 Action News, "We came in, and we saw that the beach is closed. So we were kind of like disappointed."

Sayah said her sister drove over nine hours from northeast Ontario for the family outing. Her son came prepared in his swim trunks, but only got to use the splash pad just before it closed.

"We figured we won't touch the water. We'll just sit here, and just enjoy the sunset," Sayah explained.

The MDHHS says in a press release that sampling efforts are underway.

Residents are advised:

EGLE was reportedly notified at 3:21 p.m. of the spill of several thousand gallons of a liquid containing 5% hexavalent chromium was released into the sewer system by Tribar.
According to a release from MDHHS, the company discovered the release on Monday, but officials say it may have started as early as Saturday morning.

We're told there is no immediate threat to the drinking water.