Neighbors worry as more tainted wells identified

Recent tests found toxin in wells half a mile from old Wolverine Worldwide dump

PFOS, Belmont
An old Wolverine Worldwide dump in Belmont is believed to have contaminated well water with a chemical called PFOS.


PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — More neighbors in Belmont are worried after a Target 8 report that toxins from a long-closed Wolverine Worldwide dump had spread.

Target 8 reported that follow-up tests released to some residents Saturday found high levels of PFOS — a chemical once used in Scotchgard — in five wells for the first time on the east side of US-131, about half a mile south of Wolverine’s old House Street dump north of Grand Rapids.

All five were over the Environmental Protection Agency advisory limit for drinking water; one of them was 142 times the limit. Four of the affected homes are on Chandler Street NE.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said new tests also found smaller amounts of the toxin in about 10 other homes away from the House Street dump, which is on the west side of the highway.

Wolverine Worldwide used Scotchgard to waterproof shoes and boots. A chemical in Scotchgard at the time, PFOS, is a possible carcinogen and has been linked to other medical problems.

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

“I don’t feel safe,” said Laurie Chappell, who lives on Herrington Avenue NE on the east side of U.S. 131, not far from Chandler Street.

She and other neighbors — about 200 in all — anxiously waiting results of tests on their well water.

“Well, I’m trying to be patient and know that we’ll get our answers soon,” Chappell said.

She worries not only about the water at her home of 30 years, but also about the water her daughter and grandchildren drink just down the street.

“At this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever drink my water again without a whole house water filter, even if it has low levels,” she said.

Earlier tests in August found PFOS in 14 of 21 homes immediately around the House Street dump on the west side of the highway, seven of which were over the EPA advisory limit. One of those was more than 500 times the limit.

For now, like many of her neighbors, Chappell is drinking bottled water.

“At least I know it’s safe,” she said.

The DEQ said it expects more test results this week, while results for wells a bit farther away from the dump could take a few more weeks.

On Monday, Wolverine announced it would provide whole house water filtration systems for any homes around the dump over the EPA limit.