UPDATE: Samples from Hubbell Pond, Kent Lake detect traces of cancer-causing toxin after chemical leak in Wixom

A no-contact recommendation remains in effect, officials said.
 Two water samples taken from waters in Hubbell Pond and one from Kent Lake picked up traces of hexavalent chromium released into the Huron River system by a Wixom manufacturing company, state officials said Saturday.
Photo credit Andrei Naumenka/Getty

MILFORD (WWJ) - Two water samples taken from waters in Hubbell Pond and one from Kent Lake picked up traces of hexavalent chromium released into the Huron River system by a Wixom manufacturing company, state officials said Saturday.

The test samples collected from Hubbell Pond in Milford on Thursday were at and below the state's vales to protect aquatic life, registering at 11 parts per billion (ppb) at the surface, and 9 ppb near the bottom, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed.

The sample from Kent Lake, which completed testing late Friday evening, registered at 5ppb.

The state’s chronic aquatic life value is 11 ppb.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) said more testing is needed to gather "a more complete picture" of the location and movement of the toxin that escaped into the Huron River last weekend from Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom.

The chemical, Hexavalent chromium, is a known cancer-causing agent and exposure through ingestion, skin contact or inhalation can lead to a number of adverse health effects, authorities said.

Crews with the EGLE worked to collect water samples from various locations in and around the pond on Friday and Saturday.

"Investigators are also testing sewage material within the Wixom treatment plant to determine if contamination remains bound up with the sludge inside the plant," MDHHS said on Saturday.

So far, state officials said only three out of 69 water samples collected throughout 42 miles of the Huron River system came back with the low-level detections of hexavalent chromium downstream from where the release occurred.

"More than 30 samples were taken from varying depths from near the point of release downstream to Barton Pond in Ann Arbor," authorities said in a press release.

MDHHS advised that people and pets avoid coming into contact with water in the Huron River system between North Wixom Road in Oakland County and Kensington Road in Livingston County, including 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).

MDHHS said recommendations may change as the results of other water samples are received, but so far as as follows:

• Don’t swim in, wade in, play in or drink water directly from the Huron River.
• Don’t water your plants or lawn with Huron River water.
• Don’t eat fish caught in this section of the Huron River. A do not eat advisory for PFOS is already in effect.

The EGLE said it is continuing it's investigation into what caused the release, how much of the chemical got into the water and the timeline of the incident.

State and local officials said public information and assistance is available to keep residents informed on the matter.

People in Oakland and Washtenaw county health departments can stay up to day through oakgov.com and washtenaw.org.

To reach the MDHHS’ MI Toxic Hotline for questions about potential health effects or exposures, dial 800-648-6942, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Extended hotline hours will be offered this weekend, Saturday, Aug. 6 and Sunday, Aug. 7, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To learn more about the Huron River watershed, visit hrwc.org.