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Dem candidates urge tough action against Tribar

Democratic candidates for the Livingston County Board of Commissioners have urged the board to pass a resolution that calls for Tribar Manufacturing to be penalized for spilling a cancer-causing chemical into the Huron River.

Caitlyn Perry Dial of Brighton and Lori Cowan of Unadilla Township addressed commissioners on Monday.

“Clean water is life and is essential for Livingston County residents,” said Dial, who is running in county commission district 7 which includes the city of Brighton and a portion of Brighton Township.

“Tribar has to be held accountable,” added Cowan, who is running in county commission district 3 which includes the townships of Iosco, Unadilla, and Putnam plus southern Handy Township and southwest Hamburg Township.

Both urged the commission to adopt a resolution similar to one already approved unanimously by the Hamburg Township board of trustees.

It calls for:

–Tribar to be disconnected from the Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant while the careless procedures that caused the release of hexavalent chromium are investigated.

–Investigation of criminal charges against Tribar by agencies including the Michigan attorney general, Michigan State Police, the Oakland County Prosecutor, Michigan Occupation Safety and Health Agency, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

–Tribar to be fined to the maximum extent possible to cover the costs of investigations, testing, and cleanup costs, including improvements and enhancements to the Huron River ecosystem.

–Requiring all significant industrial users to have an approved industrial pretreatment program.

–Requiring that wastewater treatment plants that empty into the Huron River system, including Wixom’s, not provide service to significant industrial users until they have an approved industrial pretreatment program.

During the weekend of July 30, one of Tribar Manufacturing’s facilities in Wixom released between 8,000 and 10,000 gallons of water containing a 5% solution of hexavalent chromium. The release went first into the Wixom wastewater treatment facility, which then discharges into Norton Creek, and from there into the Huron River. 

Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen and can cause health issues when inhaled, ingested or put in contact with skin. 

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) says their Water Resources Division (WRD) issued violations to Tribar after noting that the company’s operator overrode alarms 460 times, allowing a large tank containing the toxic chemical to drain into Wixom’s wastewater treatment system unimpeded.

The news resulted in EGLE issuing a No Contact order for much of the Huron River, disrupting recreational uses of the river and causing concern about the water supply for the city of Ann Arbor downstream. The no contact order has since been lifted after determining that the amount of hexavalent chromium released into the Huron River was much less than originally thought. 

However, the incident is the second time Tribar has been accused of being the source of pollutants in the Huron River. In recent years, Tribar was named as the primary source of PFAS/PFOS so-called “forever chemicals” that have polluted the Huron River all the way to where the river meets Lake Erie. An advisory against eating fish from the Huron River was issued due to that pollution. That still remains in effect.

The board took no action on the proposed resolution Monday night. Resolutions typically are reviewed by the board’s general government subcommittee prior to presentation to the full board.


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