Snyder: A lot of unknowns remain in toxic tap water probe

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


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Rick Snyder says the PFAS contamination Michigan is dealing with now may only be the beginning.

“What’s going on in Kent County is one of the most serious in the state,” Gov. Rick Snyder said.

The investigation started in January, when a Rockford citizens group notified the state of potential PFAS at Wolverine Worldwide’s former dumpsite at House Street.

Tests east of the dump found low levels of PFAS, which was previously found in the Scotchguard Wolverine used to waterproof shoes.

>>Timeline: History of Wolverine Worldwide and PFAS

So far, dozens of wells have tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for the likely carcinogen. Another 180 had lower levels of the suspected carcinogen, as of July.

Snyder says that there is much we don’t know about PFAS.

“This is something that we need to take very seriously because we don’t even know the real standards. There isn’t a standard, it’s an advisory still, but it’s a problem. It’s a threat to our health,” he said.

But the governor says there is a lot that can be done.

“Hopefully we’re being proactive about getting information out to people. Not making it a panic situation, but let’s take this in a very thoughtful, aggressive approach to say, ‘How do we walk through the steps to make sure we’re doing the right things,” Snyder explained.

The governor set up a statewide task force to deal with PFAS, which pulls together multiple government agencies to address the overall problem.

So far, there are at least 14 Michigan municipalities with 28 sites containing PFAS. However, the Governor says the task force may very well be dealing with more than just one chemical.

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

“This is the issue that we’re facing now. The challenge is, I think, we find other issues in the future. I mean that’s just the problem we have… it was most everywhere and it wasn’t treated as a toxic chemical back then. People could dispose of it different ways. That was a mistake. How many other cases could that happen with other items?” Snyder questioned.

The governor also said he has been consulting with the EPA and other groups that may be able to help in the cleanup efforts.

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: