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Criminal probe underway into toxic release into Huron River

A criminal investigation has begun into the release of a toxic chemical into the Huron River.

The Wixom Police Department says they are looking into the circumstances that led to the release of hexavalent chromium at Tribar Technologies into the city’s wastewater treatment system.

Also known as hexchrome, the compound is used in plastic finishing and is a known carcinogen. It is banned in Europe and is no longer used by many companies in the U.S. Because the discharge passed through the Wixom sewage plant, state health and environmental officials on Tuesday issued a “no contact” advisory for the river.

Police officials told MLive.com that their investigation is assessing whether the release was something the company is either “negligent or criminally liable for.”

This is not the first time the company has released contaminants into the river. Tribar’s release of PFAS chemicals through the Wixom wastewater plant is the chief cause for the “Do Not Eat” fish advisory issued for the river in 2018.

Based in Howell, Tribar operates four plants in Wixom, and it is unknown from which the toxic release came from. However, it is believed the release consisted of between 8,000 and 10,000 gallons of water with 5% hexchrome.

Until further notice, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that all people and pets avoid contact with the Huron River water between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County. This 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).

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