Manufacturer ending use, production and storage of toxic chemical

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Firefighters respond to a fire at the Kassouni Manufacturing plant in Belding. Courtesy Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

A maker of chlorine pool tablets in the area that was shut down last summer for endangering residents reached a consent decree with the local government to stop the usage and storage of a toxic chemical.

The city of Belding reached a consent decree with Kassouni Manufacturing Inc. (KMI) that ends the company’s ability to use, produce or store trichloroisocyanuric acid (TCICA).

Approved by Judge Ronald Schafer, the binding agreement effectively ends Kassouni Manufacturing’s ability to produce pool and spa tablets at its 815 S. Front St. facility in Belding that contain TCICA or similar compounds.

The chemicals were designed to kill bacteria and control algae in swimming pools and hot tubs but are highly reactive and present a dangerous explosion hazard.

When handled incorrectly, TCICA releases toxic gases that can irritate and burn the nose, throat and lungs.

“We are very pleased to have reached this settlement with Kassouni Manufacturing, which protects the health, safety and well-being of our residents,” said John Niemela, Belding city manager. “The company has reorganized, and we feel confident the new leadership will live up to the letter and spirit of this agreement.

“Dangerous chemicals like TCICA have no place in Belding. This consent decree ensures they will never be used again but will allow the company to continue to manufacture other products and retain jobs in our community.”

Kassouni Manufacturing, which is in a residential neighborhood, had two incidents involving TCICA last summer.

The first incident in June released a gas cloud over the city, resulting in dozens of complaints from residents.

Less than a month later, in July, TCICA was responsible for a dumpster fire and another gas cloud, drawing more complaints and a demand for action.

Belding Mayor Brad Miller, Niemela and members of the city council worked with KMI’s owners and plant manager to reach the consent decree, which established a permanent injunction against any manufacturing within city limits that uses TCICA.

The company, which employs 20 people, will continue to operate in Belding and focus on its production of melting agents under the popular Roofmelt brand.

The Belding City Council unanimously approved the consent agreement — which is effective immediately — during its March 3 meeting.

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