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Hartland farmer files lawsuit against Tribar

Hartland farmer files lawsuit against Tribar

A Livingston County farmer has filed a lawsuit against the company responsible for a recent toxic spill into the Huron River, although the legal action is for a previous toxic release.

Jason Grostic of Hartland Township filed the lawsuit earlier this month against Tribar Manufacturing, an automotive parts supplier that state officials say was responsible for the release of water contaminated with hexavalent chromium  on the weekend of July 30.

However, Grostic’s lawsuit concerns Tribar’s earlier release of the toxic compounds known as PFAS which resulted in the contamination of his farm. In January, after tests found elevated levels of PFAS in the meat he sold. the state of Michigan issued a consumption advisory for consumers against his farm’s beef.

PFAS are a group of chemicals commonly used in a wide range of industrial processes and found in many consumer products.

According to MLive, the lawsuit seeks punitive damages that Grostic’s lawyers describe as “tens of millions,” which they contend is what it would cost to remediate the farm’s soil and groundwater.

The suit also says Grostic’s reputation was “destroyed overnight” by the state’s consumption advisory, which was the result of wastewater biosolids that came from the city of Wixom’s wastewater treatment plant and were used on his farm to stimulate the growth of plants used to feed the cattle.

The biosolid contamination was due to Tribar’s release of PFAS and also resulted in a “Do Not Eat” advisory for fish in the Huron River.

While state officials say the issue is confined to Grostic’s farm, the Hartland Township resident disagrees and believes other farms in Michigan which have used the biosolids as fertilizer have the same issues, but just have yet to be discovered.

In response to the lawsuit, Tribar issued a statement saying it “stopped its use of products containing PFAS in 2015, well before the compounds were regulated by the State of Michigan.”

The company also said the use of wastewater sludge was an issue between the city of Wixom and its customers and that it was not consulted nor gave approval for that use.

Meanwhile, Grostic says the contamination has resulted in his farm’s mortgage going into default, forcing him to sell equipment and use up his family’s savings in order to pay bills.

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