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Belmont woman wonders if contaminated water played a part in husbands death

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Sandy Wynn-Stelt lives on House Street in Belmont, and next to the dump site Wolverine Worldwide used to legally dispose of waste sludge back in the 1960’s. Today, her water is contaminated with toxic pre-and polyfloral alkyl substances, known as PFAS, and out of all the homes in the area, her water has the highest level of the toxic chemical. She says, when she found out, it took time for the gravity of the situation to sink in. 

“I guess I was just in disbelief, I had never heard of PFAS," Wynn-Stelt said. "Then they started handing me water and gift cards, and telling me some of the dangers, that’s when it kind of struck me that this was kind of a big deal.”

At the time she had bought her home in 1992, no one told her that directly across the street lived a long retired dump site that Wolverine Worldwide had used to dispose of waste sludge that contained toxic chemicals. Which, if consumed, can increase chances of cancer. 

“You know, the hard part for me is that my husband passed away a year and a half ago from liver cancer. So all of that started coming back to me at that point. Was this a contributing factor?" Wynn-Stelt said. "It’s more the shock and the sadness of this. That if this is something that they could have prevented, maybe my husband wouldn’t have died, or maybe he wouldn’t have died so soon, or maybe he would have had more time.”

While Wynn-Stelt says there is no way to be sure that her well water contributed to her husband’s death, many residents in the House Street development are still questioning why Plainfield Township approved building homes near a toxic dump site in the first place.

In a 2004 report obtained by WGVU Plainfield Township knowingly cited “Environmental Issues” at the dump site, confirming that the water had been contaminated, and that there could be a number of harmful byproducts from the waste.

Plainfield Township Superintendent Cameron VanWyngarden, said that report is misleading. In an email to WGVU, he states that the time of the report, PFAS testing didn’t exist, and the contamination’s impact did not appear to be significant.”

Wynn-Stelt says that answer isn’t good enough for House Street residents many of whose homes were built after that initial report.

“That is just wrong. You know it’s kind of like saying my kid has a bump on their skull, and I’m not a doctor, so I am not going to check it out," Wynn-Stelt said. "It feels that vague and stupid, and what that tells me is they never should have been developing all the homes that just went in here, from 2009 on. Why is Plainfield Township letting other homes build and sink wells here if they had reason to believe there was contamination of any kind, whatever that meant?”

WGVU reached out to Wolverine Worldwide for comment. They issued this statement,

“Our focus remains on providing area residents confidence in their drinking water, as further evidenced by our decision to provide whole house filtration systems to 338 homeowners in Plainfield Township, regardless of test results.”

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