More neighbors worry about tainted water

Plainfield Township, illegal dump site
A dump site off House Street NE in Plainfield Township. (September 2017)

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The growing concern over the contamination caused by the dumping of chemical-laced debris connected to Wolverine Worldwide has yet another neighborhood worried that their water is not safe.

They live in a Plainfield Township neighborhood on Bittersweet Drive NE, north of Boulder Creek Golf Club.

Officials had believed that this area was OK, because it was served by municipal water, but about 16 residents say the water system never came to them.

They wonder what is in their water.

“I been drinking it quite a while, that water, and when I’ve had four times my bladder cancer, cancers removed from my bladder,” said John Freville, who has lived in the neighborhood for 44 years. “I just haven’t been well.”

The houses in this neighborhood date back several decades to the 1960s and 70s.

While new developments that went up around this neighborhood were connected to municipal water, the 17 houses here keep their wells.

“I had a dog die with tumors all over him,” Freville said.

Bob Bennett’s wife, Georgia, died this year.

“I lost her in January, due to sclerosis of the liver and parts of it was cancer towards the end,” Bennett said.

Mary Hunter moved here two years ago with her husband and young child.

“Ever since we’ve moved here, I’ve been in and out of the doctor’s office, numerous blood tests, everything comes back normal, but I’ve always known something’s wrong,” Hunter said.

Cindy Burden has lived in the neighborhood for 24 years and she lists the illnesses she knows of.

“There’s a lady that’s two houses down — she died of cancer, the woman next door to us – she’s got cancer now, down the street – she has MS and her husband had bladder cancer, across the street — there’s been a couple of deaths and a woman with liver cancer, the young boy over here had leukemia – they’ve moved out now, and everybody’s got stomach problems,” Burden said.

The nearest dump site that has been identified is about a mile south, off Brewer Avenue NE.

Officials believe that the flow of water hopefully would carry anything away from this area.

“I think with heavy rains and floods that the water could go in any direction,” Bennett said. “I buy bottled water now, just to be on the safe side, I just don’t trust this water.”

The neighbors also believe there was a dump site much closer that disappeared in the course of development in the area.

“We know this was a septic drop off over here, so why wouldn’t we be affected?” Burden said. “What are our choices? We can’t afford to sell, nobody’s gonna buy it.”

They want to get their water tested, but have been told that testing can cost as much as $1,000.

“I just want to know what’s in my water, I’m scared,” she said. “It’s not right, something’s not right.”

Wolverine has committed to testing in areas where PFOS has been shown to be present.

But testing is expensive and time-consuming, and there are very few labs in the state equipped to do it.

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