DEQ: 35 potential dumps investigated in Rockford area

Crews start cleaning up second illegal dump site near House Street NE

Plainfield Township, Imperial Pine Drive NE, toxic tap water
Crews cleanup suspected Wolverine Worldwide waste along Imperial Pine Drive NE in Plainfield Township. (Oct. 24, 2017)


PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is now investigating nearly three dozen potential dump sites possibly connected to contaminated water in the Rockford area.

A DEQ spokesperson told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday it is looking into approximately 35 potential dumps.

The department has received dozens of reports from concerned residents after wells along House Street NE in Belmont started testing positive for a likely carcinogen. Chemicals that Wolverine Worldwide used in waterproofing shoes that were dumped at a landfill decades ago are being blamed for the contamination.

Three illegal dump sites believed to be connected to Wolverine Worldwide have been discovered along House Street, including one on Michigan Department of Transportation property across the road from the company’s legal landfill. Workers have finished cleaning up at that site. On Tuesday, they started pulling up waste at a second illegal dump site on nearby Imperial Pine Drive.

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

Mel and Marlene Nylaan live right across the road from Imperial Pine site. They never thought the contamination concerns would spread so far beyond their neighborhood.

“We just thought it was a few little areas and that would be the end of it,” Marlene Nylaan told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.

The Nylaans water tested over the Environmental Protection Agency advisory level for PFOS, the chemical causing concern. A water company stopped by Tuesday to install a water filtration system at their home. Wolverine Worldwide is footing the bill for them and for hundreds of other homes in the area.

“I celebrated all night,” Mel Nylaan said of learning when the filtration system would be installed.

>>App users: Interactive map of toxic tap water

But with so many unanswered questions and potential dump sites, the Nylaans wonder how long it will take to determine the scope of the problem and fix it.

“I would think years, actually,” Marlene Nylaan said. “I don’t think it’s going to get done overnight.”

Last week, the DEQ announced it had expanded the area of testing for toxic tap water. More than 600 homes with wells are in the buffer zone.

Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Mike Shibler told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday that school leaders are still awaiting results from tests on wells at four of the district’s schools. Shibler expects results to come back for East Rockford Middle School sometime this week.

RESOURCES FOR BELMONT RESIDENTS:

If you are eligible for a whole-house water filtration system from Wolverine Worldwide, you can call 616.866.5627 or email HouseStreet@wwwinc.com.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Environmental Assistance Center can be reached at 1.800.662.9278.

Websites with additional information on the contamination: