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

Officials say area drinking water is safe

The state sent an urgent warning on Tuesday, telling people to stay out of the Huron River in Oakland and Livingston counties. READ:

WIXOM, Mich. – Officials are warning residents not to swim, fish or take water from certain areas of the Huron River after a dangerous chemical spill.

Hexavalent chromium was released into the Wixom Sewage Treatment Facility from Tribar Manufacturing.

Contaminated water from the treatment facility was released into the Huron River system.

Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen. Contact with the chemical can cause numerous health effects through ingestion, skin contact or inhalation.

What happened?

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy was notified at 3:21 p.m. Monday by Tribar that it had released several thousand gallons of liquid containing 5% hexavalent chromium into the sewer system.

The company said it discovered the release on Monday, but believed it could have started as early as Saturday morning. Officials believe much of the contaminant already made its way through the treatment plant.

Previous: Chemical spill on Huron River sparks warnings due to contamination

Where should you avoid the Huron River?

Officials say all people and pets should avoid contact with Huron River water between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County.

That includes Norton Creek downstream of the Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant (Oakland County), Hubbell Pond (also known as Mill Pond in Oakland County) and Kent Lake (Oakland and Livingston counties).

“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. “As we gather additional information through sampling, this recommendation may change or be expanded.”

Is the drinking water safe?

Officials said that “there is no immediate threat to drinking water” in the area.

That is because the nearest drinking water intake is in Ann Arbor. Officials said it would take the contaminant several weeks or more to make it sway to the city’s water intakes.

Ann Arbor has been notified and is taking steps to monitor incoming water.

Read: Substance made famous by Erin Brockovich is what was seeping onto I-696

What is Michigan doing?

EGLE is taking water samples from multiple areas downstream from the treatment plant and is working to determine the extent of the contamination.

Testing is also taking place within the Tribar facility and the Wixom wastewater treatment plant. They will continue monitoring the water in the coming weeks.

An update will be provided when the results come in, officials said.

“This is a significant release into a large, much-loved waterway,” said Liesl Clark, EGLE director. “Our teams are in the field now assessing the situation. We will stay on the job as long as it takes to ensure residents are safe and impacts to the ecosystem are minimized.”

Previous: State urges locals to avoid contact with Huron River due to contamination in 2 counties

What is hexavalent chromium?

It’s one of the chemical states of the element chromium. It forms chemical compounds that are colorful, according to MIOSHA,

It’s often used as pigments in dyes, paints, inks and plastics. It can also be used as an anticorrosive agent added to paints, primers and other surface coatings.

Adverse health effects include the following: Occupational asthma, eye irritation and damage, perforated eardrums, respiratory irritation, kidney damage, liver damage, pulmonary congestion and edema, upper abdominal pain, nose irritation and damage, respiratory cancer, skin irritation, and erosion and discoloration of the teeth.

View the fact sheet from MIOSHA below for more information.

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.