Things are said to be going in the right direction with a Howell company that has since has ended the use of a chemical that created a recent public health hazard.

Previous air sampling found high levels of TCE in the area around the Diamond Chrome Plating facility at 604 S. Michigan Avenue, creating a public health hazard. The company has stopped operation of its degreaser, the suspected source of the emissions, and is no longer using tri-chloro-ethylene (TCE). It has removed the compound from its Howell facility and is working with various regulatory agencies. An update was provided at Monday night’s Howell City Council meeting.

Interim City Manager Erv Suida says they have been having frequent conference calls with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Livingston County Health Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. He says they all continue to test along with Diamond Chrome Plating and so far the results have been very positive. Suida says testing is being done on ambient air in neighborhoods as well as indoor air testing and everything has been non-detect to this point. He tells WHMI the company will be going through this process for a while but was able to find a degreasing solvent that Boeing and the US military will accept that is not TCE.

Suida says Diamond Chrome is still not operating and continues to work on an air quality plan with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to hopefully get back up and running soon and get everything resolved. He added that EGLE still looking at the new solvent, determining its use and making sure it’s something they can permit through the Air Quality division. Suida says part of the work plan being put together with EGLE will be reviewing the substituted solvent, its makeup, potential hazards and specific requirements to make sure it’s properly used. He noted a lot has to do with the boiling temperature and the chilling temperate, as well as how it’s used and contained. Suida says even though it’s a different product and doesn’t have the same hazards as TCE, it is still a chemical used in degreasing and requires oversight. He says the state Air Quality division is likely going to be permitting that use in the future.

Prior to this, Diamond Chrome had an exception and was under a different exemption. Suida says they weren’t being regulated for those emissions but being regulated for the degreasing unit - adding it was kind of a gap in the regulatory agency but they have now closed that gap. He says Diamond Chrome is working with all of the regulatory agencies and has volunteered to go through the permitting process with Air Quality to eliminate issues and there should be better oversight continually. Suida says the agencies are doing what they’re supposed to be doing so hopefully this will be permanently resolved and they don’t have any issues again.

More information can be found through a state webpage that was set up. The link is provided. (JM)