Diamond Chrome Plating Restarts Degreasing Process

A Howell company has restarted its chemical degreasing process that 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 S. 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. But in a notice today, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE, stated that Diamond Chrome Plating started to use a new degreasing fluid on December 23rd as an acceptable alternative to TCE.

EGLE says they, “evaluated available information and confirmed the new degreasing fluid and the expected emissions to the outdoor air from the degreaser are acceptable” within what’s called Rule 290. That rule allowed the degreaser to release emissions inside the plant without obtaining an air permit. Jennifer Dixon is an Air Quality Specialist with EGLE and says the new compound, called NEXT 5408, met all of their safety standards. “We took out time really, really digging into it, looking at what they gave us, making sure that we agreed and that all of our things came up the same as theirs did. So we had toxicologists looking at it. The Department of Health and Human Services toxicologists worked with us on that. Our inspection staff did their own review, which is a typical thing that they do, just to ensure that all the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed to ensure that this material was going to able to meet that Rule 290 and be acceptable for the use that they wanted to have it for and acceptable for the public.”

Dixon added that EGLE staff will continue inspections of the vapor degreaser and evaluate the usage and emission records for the new degreasing fluid on a regular basis. In addition, EGLE says they will continue to require Diamond Chrome to address all other outstanding noncompliance issues related to overall operations.

Among other issues connected to Diamond Chrome Plating are PFAS contamination into the Shiawassee River and hexavalent chromium into groundwater around the plant. Hexavalent Chromium is the same material that drew national attention when pictures were released of “green ooze” leaking onto I-696 in the Madison Heights area. Matt Bolang, the Director of Environmental Health for the Livingston County Health Department, tells WHMI that the contamination is several decades old but isn’t an immediate health concern as the groundwater around Diamond Chrome Plating is not used for drinking water for Howell City residents and the few individual wells in the area have not turned up positive results for contaminants. (JK)

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