PFAS found near North Kent Landfill

Kent County setting up testing for nearby properties with wells

plainfield township, wolverine worldwide, contaminated water
A well in Belmont that was contaminated, likely by chemicals from an old Wolverine Worldwide dump site. (Sept. 26, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — New tests have found high levels of PFAS, a likely carcinogen, around the North Kent Landfill on 10 Mile Road NE, prompting the county to provide bottled water to nearby residents, Kent County announced Monday.

The Kent County Department of Public Works, which runs the landfill just east of US-131 in Plainfield Township, said records show Wolverine Worldwide dumped there from 1980 to 1986.

But the Rockford-based shoemaker, who used PFAS to waterproof shoes, decided it won’t be involved in the testing or providing water because “they feel it’s the landfill’s responsibility,” said DPW Environmental Compliance Manager Molly Sherwood.

In a statement provided to 24 Hour News 8 Monday, Wolverine noted the North Kent Landfill “has had multiple users and parties over the years that could have contributed to the potential existence of PFOA and PFOS,” referring to chemicals in the PFAS family. The company went on to say it “is in favor of others becoming part of the solution.”

“From our perspective, it doesn’t make sense to waste time and money to argue that,” Sherwood said. “Our focus is to make sure residents are safe.”

>>Inside Complete coverage of the toxic tap water investigation

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality tested eight monitoring wells around the landfill in December. A well at the southwest corner of the landfill showed PFAS level of 237 parts per trillion — triple the 70 parts per trillion level established by the state for drinking water, Sherwood said.

Only one of the wells showed no traces of PFAS. Two others, both on the north side of the landfill, had levels of 161.4 ppt and 93.7 ppt, she said.

Residents who live west and south of the landfill have private wells for drinking, she said.

Consultants working for the county could start going door to door as early as Tuesday to set up times for testing their wells, while also providing bottled water at the county’s expense.

Map: The area near the North Kent Landfill where county authorities are testing for PFAS contamination in wells.

Wolverine is footing the bill for well testing, bottled water and whole-house water filtration systems for contaminated residential wells in established zones around its former House Street landfill in Belmont, which is only a short distance southwest of the North Kent Landfill.

The full Monday statement from Wolverine:

“Wolverine Worldwide is pleased that Kent County is stepping forward and taking the lead to test homes near the North Kent landfill. This landfill was owned and operated by Kent County at all times, and has had multiple users and parties over the years that could have contributed to the potential existence of PFOA and PFOS. Wolverine is in favor of others becoming part of the solution, and we will cooperate with the County and give the County and its consultant access to the expertise of our consultants and in-house personnel.

“Wolverine has demonstrated its willingness to do its part when it comes to issues that are potentially related to our operations and historical waste disposal practices. We have paid for extensive residential groundwater testing in our community, and have installed and maintained more than 70 monitoring wells in the area with plans to install more in the future. Wolverine remains as committed as ever to resolving groundwater issues in our community that may be tied to our past operations, and wants to restore the community’s faith in its water.”


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

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

Websites with additional information on the contamination: