(CBS DETROIT) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy are urging residents in Monroe, Oakland, Livingston, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties to avoid the Huron River after a chemical spill.
Officials say that hexavalent chromium was released from Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom, to the Wixom Sewage Treatment Facility, which discharges to the Huron River system.
According to officials, hexavalent chromium is a carcinogen that could cause a variety of negative health effects in people, through ingestion, skin contact, on inhalation.
On Monday, at about 3:21 p.m., Tribar notified EGLE that it had released several thousand gallons of a liquid containing 5% hexavalent chromium into the sewer system.
Although officials at Tribar said they discovered the chemical release on Monday, they believe that it could've started spilling into the water system on Saturday morning.
Due to the spill, the MDHHS is recommending that all people and pets avoid contact with the Huron River between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County. This area 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).
When officials say to avoid contact with the water, they are saying not to swim, stand, or drink water from the Huron River, water plants with this river water, or eat fish caught in this area of the river.
In addition to this, health officials say there is no threat to drinking water.
Officials say Ann Arbor is the closest city and it would take several weeks for the hexavalent chromium to travel into the city's drinking water, but city officials will still monitor the water.
"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."
Officials have begun sampling the affected water and will provide updates as the results are received.
Additional information is expected to be released within the coming days.
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