Neighbor finds 3rd illegal dump site in Belmont

Likely carcinogen found in wells near where Wolverine Worldwide waste was left

Belmont, illegal dump site
Debris at a third illegal dump site in Belmont near where wells have been contaminated. (Oct. 16, 2017)


PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP. Mich. (WOOD) — Belmont neighbors have discovered a third illegal dump site near Wolverine Worldwide’s former legal dump, raising fears that chemical-laced debris is buried through much of the neighborhood.

“It makes me think behind all of us, it’s just all these houses were built on garbage, just a giant dump site,” said Tedd Ryfiak, who lives on House Street NE in Plainfield Township. “They didn’t care where they were going with it, as long as it wasn’t Wolverine’s problem anymore.”

It likely means the cleanup of the illegal dump sites on House Street NE will take much longer than expected.

Ryfiak said he discovered leather scraps, chunks of a glue-like substance and barrels in a ravine directly behind his home. The debris is 20 yards from his well, which has dangerously high levels of a likely carcinogen previously used in Scotchgard, which was once used by Wolverine to waterproof shoes.

Ryfiak is raising three kids here; his youngest was born three years ago.

“I’m worried about the effects later in life,” he said. “Right now, they’re healthy, but what if there’s late onset of anything, liver disease, kidney failure, late onset of puberty? How is that going to affect them later? Is that just something I’m going to have to deal with on my own? Or is that something that the perpetrator who is poisoning me is going to have to deal with?”

The barrels at this third illegal site are partially embedded and the leather scraps are buried in the side of a hill, just like at the two other known illegal sites — one on Michigan Department of Transportation land on the south side of House Street, and the other just west.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Complete coverage of the toxic tap water investigation

Crews working for Wolverine started cleaning up the MDOT site this week, saying they found much more than expected — 21 barrels and 40 yards of leather scraps.

The new site is about 150 yards from that.

Ryfiak’s home has among the highest levels of PFOS found around the dump sites — more than 2,000 parts per trillion. That’s nearly 30 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory level for drinking.

The PFOS contamination has spread. It’s been found in at least 36 wells, one as far as 1.3 miles to the south and even in a couple on 10 Mile Road to the north.

“I’ve got two kids under 8, one’s 5 and one’s 3, the oldest is 11,” Ryfiak said. “They’ve been drinking this water the majority of their lives, if not their entire lives. Now to find out it was poisoned, it’s completely unacceptable.”

He said he wants his backyard cleaned up:

“It’s leaching into the groundwater; it’s not going to get better sitting there.”