The Howell City Council met Monday night and authorized the signing of a restrictive covenant with Diamond Chrome Plating, which was the focus of a health hazard alert late last year.

Air sampling last March found high levels of trichloroethylene, also known as TCE, in the area around the Diamond Chrome Plating facility at 604 South Michigan Avenue. State officials eventually suspended operation of the company’s degreaser in November after follow-up testing showed higher-than-allowed levels of the compound in the neighborhood to the northeast of the facility. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy or EGLE later announced that Diamond Chrome started to use a new degreasing fluid on December 23rd as an acceptable alternative to TCE. As part of negotiations with EGLE, a restrictive covenant on the property is being required as part of a remedial action plan. Diamond Chrome advised the City that additional caution and restrictions were necessary in the event the City undertakes any activities on the property that require soil handling and/or contact with groundwater.

Interim Howell City Manager Erv Suida tells WHMI through negotiations with EGLE, Diamond Chrome is required to get a restrictive covenant on their property. Since the City has a few easements that run through that property, Diamond Chrome is required to notify the City of the restrictions. Suida says the covenant essentially restricts the use of the property and what can be done on it. He says it’s something that goes with the deed and is attached to the property so no matter who owns it, the restrictions would follow it. Suida said the consent they sign is just acknowledging the City has been made aware of those restrictions.

As for the larger picture, Suida says everything is going good now and EGLE is looking at possibly issuing some historical fines for violations. He noted Diamond Chrome has been under a consent order for quite some time and the City’s hope was through that process the state would maybe realize there are better ways to go about things than just fines, such as maybe having the company invest more in remediation, but that’s really up to the enforcement agency and how they handle that. Suida added the company is now using a different product and meeting air quality limits so everything else seems to be under control. (JM)