Health Care, Manufacturing, and Sustainability

Tests show safe water at old Wolverine Worldwide waste sites

October 25, 2017
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Test results show well water is safe to drink at a number of Wolverine Worldwide’s old dump sites in the area.

The Rockford-based maker of apparel and footwear — in partnership with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, or MDEQ, Kent County Health Department and local municipalities — began testing the water at several locations earlier this month after landowners reported evidence of historical waste disposal on their properties from Wolverine’s leather tannery operations in the 1960s and ’70s.

The MDEQ tested wells and drinking water at East Rockford Middle School, a property along Ramsdell Drive in Cannon Township and the Rockford and Plainfield Township municipal water systems for the presence of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS.

The company, as well as the MDEQ, said today that no PFAS were detected, and the water is safe to drink.

PFAS are a class of man-made chemicals introduced in the 1950s to make products that resist heat, stains, grease and water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified the chemical as an emerging contaminant in recent years.

MDEQ placed the middle school on a precautionary bottled water alert on Oct. 12 while water testing took place.

“We are happy to see that the results demonstrate the school has not been affected by this potential contamination,” said Abigail Hendershott, acting district supervisor of the MDEQ Grand Rapids office.

Cannon Township landowners recently reported evidence of historical waste disposal on their properties along Ramsdell Drive between Nine Mile and 10 Mile roads. MDEQ staff inspected the property and confirmed the presence of waste material, including leather scraps. Documentation provided by the owner indicates that the previous owner had allowed Wolverine Worldwide to use the gravel pit as a disposal area.

“As we had expected, the test of water samples from East Rockford Middle School and the Ramsdell property confirm safe water,” said Chris Hufnagel, SVP of strategy, Wolverine Worldwide. “The waste at the property on Ramsdell Drive was primarily construction debris with a few leather and rubber scraps, and PFAS were not detected in the wells. We appreciate the current property owner bringing this to the MDEQ’s attention.”

For more information on testing, residents can call the MDEQ Environmental Assistance Center at 1-800-662-9278. 

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