Tribar Manufacturing issues report following hexavalent chromium release in Huron River

Posted at 2:38 PM, Aug 12, 2022

(WXYZ) — Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom issued a report Friday detailing what happened before and immediately after thousands of gallons of a liquid containing hexavalent chromium were released into the Huron River.

EGLE: Tribar alarm system overridden 460 times on night of Huron River chemical release

Until further notice, 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.

FBI questioned Tribar about spill

MDHHS has the following recommendations:

  • Don’t swim in, wade in, play in or drink water directly from the Huron River.
  • Don’t water your plants or lawn with Huron River water.
  • Don’t eat fish caught in this section of the Huron River.

According to the report, a company says a now former employee at Tribar overrode alarms and systems on July 29, the night of the release. The company says the individual was not authorized to be in the facility while it was closed for the weekend. He reportedly voluntarily resigned after the event.

In a statement, Tribar Manufacturing said a third-party investigation concluded "that environmental controls at Plant 5 and the city’s wastewater treatment plant appear to have captured the discharge before any material environmental impact to the Huron River system could occur. "

Read the report and technical memorandum below:

Tribar issued the following full statement regarding the report and technical memorandum:

An extensive, third-party investigation into the unauthorized release at Tribar’s Plant 5 in Wixom has concluded that environmental controls at Plant 5 and the city’s wastewater treatment plant appear to have captured the discharge before any material environmental impact to the Huron River system could occur. Testing at Tribar’s plant, the wastewater treatment plant and the Huron River system show that greater than 99% of the hexavalent chromium was converted to non-toxic trivalent chromium or caught within the Plant 5 granular activated carbon (GAC) system prior to its release into the city’s wastewater system. Only de minimis amounts of chromium were found during testing along a 42-mile stretch of the river systems downstream of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, and no test results have yet exceeded safety limits for any applicable human contact, surface water or aquatic life.

Tribar has taken and continues to take our obligations to the environment and community very seriously. As previously reported, a now former employee, who was not authorized to be in our facility while it was closed for the weekend, intentionally overrode our alarms and systems on multiple occasions which caused the release of the hexavalent chromium. Tribar Management became aware of the situation on Monday morning, confronted the former employee with questions and removed him from his role in our waste treatment department as we began our investigation into the situation. The employee then voluntarily resigned. 

While it’s very disappointing the discharge occurred, the Tribar filtration system performed as it was designed, capturing nearly all the hexavalent chromium prior to release. Additionally, the quick action taken by the City of Wixom wastewater treatment operators helped contain any discharges to the Huron River system. In order to make sure these types of events do not occur in the future, Tribar is making changes to the Company’s environmental operations. Additionally, Tribar has engaged professional environmental consultants Barr Engineering and August Mack to assist the company with ongoing environmental issues, processes, and procedures.

Rally held against Tribar Technologies as company faces violation notices in Huron River pollution

Tribar also said there was a recent incident involving vandalism at a private residence. They released the following statement regarding that incident:

We respect everyone's right to peacefully and lawfully hold a rally. However, there is never an excuse for vandalism, harassment and criminal behavior at a private residence. We are in close contact with local police regarding the incident last night, and want to thank them for their quick action and support.