DEQ making new demands of Wolverine in PFAS crisis

Belmont, Wolverine Worldwide, PFOS contamination
Water runs in the kitchen of a Belmont home where wells have been contaminated with a chemical called PFOS. (Oct. 12, 2017)

PLAINFIELD TWP. (WOOD) — The state is making new demands of Wolverine Worldwide and setting deadlines for ensuring residents get safe water and health care, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ is requesting is Wolverine provide “immediate access to safe drinking water” to all residents; identify all contamination sites, characterize the nature and extent of contamination in the Rockford area and work with health care experts to “ensure that residents in the impacted areas have access to appropriate health care resources to monitor health implications.”

The state said tests show 22 homes around Wolverine’s former House Street NE dump with well water above the EPA’s advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion of PFAS. Many more have tested with lower levels of the chemical.

PFAS is the chemical once used in Scotchgard, which Wolverine used to waterproof shoes.

The dump closed in 1970, but tests this year starting finding high levels of PFAS in some residential wells — one of those 542 times the EPA limit.

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

Tests also show the contamination has spread more than a mile to the southeast.

The state says it is investigating 57 possible dump sites in the Rockford area.

Wolverine already is installing whole-house filters to more than 338 homes around the House Street dump. It also has provided bottled water and gift cards to other homes.

Plainfield Township is making plans to extend municipal water to the area, but Wolverine hasn’t said whether it will pay for it.

The state is asking Wolverine to develop a plan by Nov. 27 to determine how far the contamination has spread from the House Street dump.

It wants Wolverine’s plans for installing monitoring wells on state Department of Transportation property on House Street where workers recently cleaned up mounds of Wolverine pigskin scraps and rusty barrels.

The state also is demanding monitoring wells in the right-of-way along US-131, which borders the House Street dump, and to determine the impact on the nearby Rogue River.

The DEQ also is demanding Wolverine develop a plan by Nov. 27 to “fully define” the extent of contamination from its former tannery in Rockford. The tannery closed in 2010, but residents have complained about scraps of pigskin along the banks of the Rogue River.

The state also has established PFAS advisories for some fish caught in the Rogue River.

The state is demanding Wolverine provide “all existing data” from the tannery site by Nov. 8.

Websites with additional information on the contamination: