MILFORD, MI – Following a devastating spill of several thousand gallons of hexavalent chromium from Tribar Manufacturing that reached the Huron River, dozens of concerned citizens, lawmakers, and activists gathered at Heavner Canoe Rental on Wednesday to address the need for state action to hold polluting corporations accountable.
“I've been part of the Huron River all my life– from visiting grandparents in what is now my family home up on the hill, to working summers at the family business that Grandma started in 1953, to moving my family to the area to continue the family legacy. I have many fond memories of growing up on the Huron and hope to add more memories for my kids and beyond,” said Bruce Heavner, co-owner of Heavner Canoe Rental. “Now under third-generation management, our business has dropped 70% in the week since the Do Not Contact recommendation was issued. But, while our livelihood and others on the river are directly and materially affected, the loss of business is not the most important topic here.”
“Tribar has for the second time in four years, used our river as a dumping ground—it must stop. We need to reinstate our polluter pay laws in order to hold companies accountable and prevent future spills from happening in our community and others,” said local resident and Sierra Club member, Tiffany Stewart.
“This is not the first time that both Michigan residents and family-owned Michigan businesses have been impacted when polluting corporations break the rules, and without immediate legislative action, it won’t be the last,” said Sean McBrearty, Legislative and Policy Director for Clean Water Action.
“For over two decades, Michigan residents have been calling for the restoration of our polluter pay laws. I’ve been proud to sponsor that bill in each of my legislative terms. Yet, even with wide public support, the majority has refused to even give this bill a hearing,” said Minority Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor). “For too long, corporate polluters have used their money to buy legislative influence. Today, we’re renewing the call for an immediate hearing on House Bill 4314 to require polluters to clean up their own messes. Elected officials are supposed to be representing the Michigan residents who are harmed when big polluters aren’t held accountable, not the corporations who are at fault.”
“When polluting corporations aren’t held accountable, residents in Oakland County and across our state pay the price. It is past time for our state legislature to hold polluters accountable,” said Dave Woodward, Chair of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. “Today I am instructing Oakland County’s lobbyists in Lansing to prioritize passage of polluter pay. The health of our residents and our natural resources are far too important to be traded for the private financial gains of polluting industries.”
Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. Clean Water Action has over 135,000 members across the state. Through direct advocacy and education we organize Michigan residents to protect the Great Lakes and our water resources. Learn more at cleanwateraction.org/mi
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 4 million members and supporters nationwide, and over 150,000 in Michigan. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit sierraclub.org