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Wixom approves Tribar to begin releases to wastewater plant

Just a little over a month after a company’s Wixom facility released a toxic chemical into the Huron River, officials say it will be allowed to resume wastewater discharges to the city’s treatment plant.

A cease and desist order was issued by the City of Wixom against Tribar Technologies in August, just days after the company notified the city and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) that it had released several thousand gallons of wastewater containing hexavalent chromium into the sewer system. From there it went to the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and then into the Huron River.

A press release from City Manager Steven Brown’s office said despite the release, regulations appear to have been followed to limit potential damage.

“Initial concerns were that that discharge, which was contrary to the company’s Industrial Pretreatment Program (IPP) requirements, might contain hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogenic, that is part of Plant #5’s production process. Fortunately, other processes at Tribar and the WWTP served to contain the hexavalent chromium prior to discharge from the WWTP as testing results, conducted at the time of the incident and after, indicated the WWTP discharge was compliant with regulatory guidelines.” stated the release.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), continues to conduct an investigation of the chemical spill, which prompted an advisory from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services warning people and pets to avoid coming into contact with water directly from the river between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County.

While the advisory was later lifted after tests showed minimal traces of the compound, EGLE still issued a violation notice on Aug. 10 and indicated it could seek “full cost recovery” from Tribar for costs associated with the spill.

According to the city’s release, there are several required improved wastewater treatment processes Tribar will need to comply with:

  • A requirement that at least two operators with wastewater treatment experience must be working whenever the Tribar is generating and processing wastewater.
  • Three additional probes to monitor compliance with the IPP requirements.
  • the addition of an automatic WWTP shut-off valve to stop discharge to the WWTP and recirculate wastewater through the onsite Tribar treatment system in the event the probes determine non-compliance with IPP requirements.
  • The automatic WWTP discharge shut-off valve and controls are located in a locked, steel cage.
  • Only Tribar senior management team members will have the code required to resume discharge to the WWTP after the automatic WWTP discharge shutoff valve is activated.
  • Comprehensive documentation of existing and new process controls/processes and associated training of Tribar staff in order to maintain ongoing compliance. 
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