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Polluters Paying for Their Pollution: A Simple Solution that Michigan's Congress Refuses to Adopt

Michigan House Bill 4314 will hold polluters accountable for their pollution of our beloved and fragile natural resources - unless our representatives continue to ignore it.

On July 29, 2022, an employee at Tribar Manufacturing’s Wixom plant made a series of terrible decisions. The employee overran Tribar’s on-site alarms 460 times between 4:59 and 7:46 p.m. that night, all during a period when the plant was not in production. Those actions allowed 10,000 gallons of hexavalent chromium solution - a highly toxic carcinogen - to empty out of a tank and into disposal channels that lead into Wixom’s sewers and the Huron River.

Regulators initially feared that 4,100 pounds of hexavalent chromium contamination had been dumped into the Huron River. This fear prompted a two-week “no contact” advisory; fortunately, only 20 pounds made its way downstream into the Huron.

The Detroit region absolutely dodged a bullet with the limited extent of this leak. However, this is unfortunately not Tribar’s first violation with polluting the Huron. In 2018, Tribar was identified as the primary polluter of polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAs”) - toxins capable of affecting the growth and behavior of children, lowering a woman's chance of pregnancy, interfering with the body's natural hormones, increasing cholesterol levels, affecting the immune system, and increasing cancer risk. Most concerning of all is that PFAs are “forever chemicals” that break down very slowly over time. Unsurprisingly, a "do not eat" advisory has remained in effect for over four years now for fish caught in the Huron River and its connected streams, lakes, and ponds.

How Habitual Polluters are Currently Punished under Michigan Law

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