An operator ignored and then canceled an alarm more than 450 times before a toxic chemical spill into Michigan’s Huron River last month, according to documents filed by state regulators. Image by Tim Kiser/Wikimedia
August 10 (UPI) — An operator ignored and then canceled an alarm more than 450 times before a major spill of toxic chemicals into Michigan’s Huron River last month, according to documents filed by state regulators.
Tribar manufacturing released about 10,000 gallons of materials containing approximately 5% hexavalent chromium in the city of Wixom, Michigan’s wastewater treatment system on July 29.
The automotive supplier’s tank contained a chrome plating solution containing potentially carcinogenic hexavalent chromium. Prolonged exposure to the compound may cause “eye and skin irritation or damage if hexavalent chromium comes into contact with these organs at high concentrations.” according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Tribar manufactures chrome auto parts.
“Please explain how the operator cleared the waste handling alarms 460 times between the PLC timestamp of 4:59 p.m. and 7:46 p.m.,” reads one. notice of violation issued on Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.
“Please explain what happens when an alarm is canceled with respect to the on-site waste treatment system from Tank A to the GAC treatment system.”
“Due to the seriousness of the violations, EGLE has initiated an expedited application, which will initiate an administrative consent order process and seek full cost recovery from Tribar,” the official said. department said on Twitter on Wednesday.
The notice was the second violation note issued since the incident.
The company did not report the release until August 1, and the state said Tribar had not fully cooperated with the investigation.
The state agency has so far cited the company for failing to immediately notify the regulator upon discovering the release as required by law, for sending an unauthorized release of pollutants to sewage treatment facility and failing to maintain a properly updated pollution incident prevention plan.
The department’s air quality division also filed violations for the metal. poorly controlled treatment tankswhich may have allowed unauthorized emissions of nickel and total chromium, and failure to keep proper records that would document compliance with air permit conditions for various processes.
The department found “no detectable presence” of hexavalent chromium in nine surface water samples taken from the river on August 3.
A no-contact order remains in place along the river and at the Wixom sewage treatment plant.
State authorities are also expanding their environmental monitoring by testing wastewater from the facility, as well as 29 other sites.