‘No immediate threat’: Ann Arbor officials issue update after Huron River chemical spill

Officials warn people not to swim or fish in Huron River due to dangerous chemical spill.

ANN ARBOR – Following the contamination of parts of the Huron River this week, officials are reaffirming that Ann Arbor’s drinking water is safe.

On Monday, those living between North Wixom Road and Kensington Road were told to avoid contact with river water after several thousand gallons of water contaminated with Hexavalent chromium were released into the Huron River system.

The chemical is a known carcinogen and can cause numerous health effects, including lung cancer.

“There is no immediate threat to Ann Arbor’s drinking water. It remains safe for all uses,” officials said in a Wednesday update.

Officials noted that time-of-travel modeling indicates that it could take “several weeks or more” for the contaminant to make its way to Ann Arbor’s drinking water intakes.

“The city is increasing its monitoring in the Huron River so we are able to identify when and if the chromium plume reaches our intake. We are also working with EGLE to identify means to optimize our treatment for chromium removal should it become necessary,” the release states.

City staff are working with both local and state agencies to develop a response plan and have implemented sampling protocols for the river. Updates to the city’s plan and analytical test data related to the spill will be available to the community through this website.

Officials said the site will be updated as information about the situation becomes available.

Here’s what happened:

On Monday at 3;21 p.m. the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) was notified by Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom that the liquid, containing 5% hexavalent chromium, was released into the sewer system.

The release was discovered on Monday but the company believes it could have started on Saturday, July 30.

Currently, the “no contact” recommendation is only for residents between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County. There are no limitations in the river for Ann Arbor’s canoe liveries or recreation, officials said.

Those with questions about hexavalent chromium, and concerns about potential health effects or exposures should call the MI Toxic Hotline at 800-648-6942 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The hotline will also be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6 and Sunday, Aug. 7.

Watch: Officials warn people not to swim, fish in Huron River due to cancer-causing chemical: What to know

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.