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Chemical manufacturer delivers sulfuric acid to MI water treatment plant, loses certification

The mix-up cost an estimated $10,000 in damages.

Updated: August 17, 2021 - 5:38pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

All Michigan municipal water treatment plants were notified by the state last Wednesday that the certification of chemical manufacturer PVS Nolwood was revoked after delivering sulfuric acid instead of fluoride to New Baltimore's municipal water treatment plant.

PVS Nolwood is no longer accredited to distribute chemicals for water treatment following the mix-up, The Epoch Times reported. The chemical manufacturer was supposed to deliver hydrofluosilicic acid, also known as fluoride, to New Baltimore's municipal water treatment plant, but the mislabeled containers that were delivered ended up being sulfuric acid.

The error caused an estimated $10,000 in damages to equipment at New Baltimore's municipal water treatment plant, the outlet reported.

PVS Nolwood is a wholesaler, meaning it receives chemicals in bulk and repackages them in custom container sizes.

On July 11, a water technician at New Baltimore's municipal water treatment plant realized the error when he pumped the sulfuric acid, which was supposed to be fluoride, into a large fluoride storage tank, according to The Epoch Times. The chemical caused an unusual reaction with the fluoride, as a lot of heat was generated when the two mixed. The worker was not injured.

That day, the treatment plant was inactive, so the toxic chemical mixture was not released into the water supply system that serves 14,000 customers, the news outlet reported.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy released a bulletin on Aug. 5, describing what happened as "a serious incident" and alerting Michigan municipal water suppliers to verify the chemicals they received from PVS Nolwood were exactly what they ordered.

"This incident is an important reminder for water suppliers to review their standard operating procedures for chemical delivery and releases," the bulletin read.

"We stopped buying from PVS Nolwood as soon as we found out about the incident," New Baltimore Mayor John Dupray told The Epoch Times. "We will no longer be a customer of theirs.

"I was surprised and very concerned," he continued. "It should be a concern to everyone how this mistake happened so easily with products being mislabeled. There should be better safety precautions."

PVS Nolwood did not respond to The Epoch Times' multiple requests for comment.

The certification was revoked by National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), which is an independent, international organization that tests, audits, and certifies products and services through a worldwide network of laboratories that serves 180 countries.

The NSF revocation notice of PVS Nolwood's certification said, "certification for all products is withdrawn due to PVS Nolwood’s failure to comply with NSF certification requirements, including unauthorized use of the NSF mark and applying the NSF mark to non-certified product(s). PVS Nolwood labeled a product as hydrofluosilicic acid and applied the NSF mark to the product packaging when the product was in fact sulfuric acid."

No other Michigan municipalities had reported any similar issues at their water treatment plants as of Aug. 16.

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