Jessica Mathews /

The state has widened testing and expanded the probe into a chemical release in the Huron River.

State investigators have widened their water sampling effort at and downstream of a release of hexavalent chromium into the Huron River system as the first test results began to come in.

Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen that can cause a number of adverse health effects through ingestion, skin contact or inhalation.

Residents with questions about hexavalent chromium, potential health effects or exposures can call the MI Toxic Hotline at 800-648-6942, 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday. Extended hotline hours will be offered this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, also from 8am to 5pm.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy sampled nine locations today, with results expected tomorrow, to help track the pollutant’s location as it moves downstream. The agency, in concert with partners from across the watershed, is developing a testing plan for the coming days and weeks.

State investigators also met with Tribar Wednesday to gain information about how the release occurred and other details that may help regulators better protect the public. Inspections are also taking place within the Tribar Manufacturing facility in Wixom, where the release occurred.

A press release states one goal is to better define the volume/amount of liquid containing 5% hexavalent chromium that was discharged to the sanitary sewer system from Tribar over the weekend and routed to the Wixom wastewater treatment facility.
The wastewater is discharged to Norton Creek, which flows into the Huron River system. Results of the first two tests, taken Tuesday at the mouth of Norton Creek and on the Huron River just downstream from Norton Creek, did not detect the presence of hexavalent chromium.

Officials stressed that as the first two data points in what will be a lengthy testing process, those two samples aren’t sufficient to draw conclusions about the effects of the pollutant on the Huron River watershed.

Until further notice, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that all people and pets avoid contact with the Huron River water between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County. That includes Norton Creek downstream of the Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant, Hubbell Pond, also known as the Mill Pond, and Kent Lake in Oakland and Livingston Counties.

Officials advise the recommendation could change or be expanded as additional information becomes available through test results.

The state advises to not swim in, wade in, play in or drink water directly from the specified section of the Huron River; don’t water plants or lawns with Huron River water and do not eat fish caught in that section. A “do not eat” advisory for PFOS remains in effect.