‘Very unsafe’ toxin levels at more Belmont homes

High levels of PFOS in wells about half a mile from old Wolverine Worldwide site

plainfield township, wolverine worldwide, contaminated water
A well in Belmont that was contaminated, likely by chemicals from an old Wolverine Worldwide dump site. (Sept. 26, 2017)


PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Families who live a half-mile south of an old Wolverine Worldwide dump site in Belmont told Target 8 they were notified Saturday that dangerously high levels of a toxin were found in their wells.

The tests revealed what state and county health officials had feared: That the plume of pollution has spread well beyond the dump, crossing US-131.

Neighbors on the north side of Chandler Drive NE, a half-mile south of Wolverine’s long-defunct House Street dump, said they’re worried because they’ve been drinking the water for years.

“I felt like crying,” said Seth McNaughton, who lives on the north side of Chandler. “I’m worried about our son’s development and his health, mainly. I really want him to be healthy and safe, so I’m very concerned with his future.”

He says he and three neighbors — four homes in a row on Chandler — got the word from a Kent County Health Department official.

“They said that our levels were high and very unsafe,” McNaughton said. “She felt sorry for us.”

Neighbors said levels of the chemical PFOS at the four homes on the north side of Chandler ranged from 124 parts per trillion to about 10,000 parts per trillion — 140 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory limit of 70.

McNaughton said his level was about 2,000 parts per trillion, about 30 times the EPA limit.

Kent County Health Department spokesman Steve Kelso confirmed that a health official spoke to the residents Saturday about test results. He said the department could not release further details.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Target 8 investigation into toxic tap water

The homes on Chandler were part of the second round of tests for the chemical known as PFOS, which was an ingredient in Scotchgard, which Wolverine used for decades on its boots and shoes. Wolverine used a dump on House Street for years until closing it around 1970.

The first round of tests in August found high levels at homes immediately around the old dump — one at 38,000 parts per trillion — along with the Belmont Armory.

The neighbors on Chandler said they’ve been drinking bottled water since August, just in case.

But Seth McNaughton and his wife had been drinking well water since they moved there four years ago. Their son is 18 months old.

“Since we’ve moved in, she became pregnant and we’ve been drinking the water the whole time and our son, since he’s been born, has just been devouring the water,” McNaughton said. “He loves water, he’s drinking it all the time.”

PFOS is a likely carcinogen also linked to other medical problems, including some that can affect childhood development. The health department is conducting its largest ever cancer cluster study around the House Street dump, as well as two other long-closed dump sites.

Neighbors on the south side of Chandler said they are still waiting for their test results.

“I’m really concerned for our health and our family’s and the  families on our street and the other people on House and possibly further south,” McNaughton said.