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Nervous residents pack contaminated water townhall in Rockford

Rockford Public Schools

As contaminated water continues to be a growing concern in Rockford, public health officials hosted a town hall style meeting Wednesday evening at the Freshman Center for Rockford Schools. Many in the crowd were nervous residents who came to hear the latest results from public health officials in regards to toxic chemicals that may have made its way into their drinking water.

A panel of experts included representatives from the Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Department of of Health and Human Services as well as Wolverine Worldwide.

The shoemaking company both legally and potentially illegally dumped waste back in the 1960’s that contained toxic per and poly floral alkyl substances better known as PFAS.

Department of Environmental Quality’s Abbey Hendershot began by saying the problem had a further reach than expected back when they started looking into the issue in September.

“So today, these numbers are hot off the press,” Hendershot said. “As of last night, we have 640 homes that were sampled, 614 results have come back, 30 houses are above 70 parts per trillion.”

To be clear, the Environmental Protection Agency has established that water containing PFAS above 70 parts per trillion is unsafe to drink.

While the DEQ has received 88 phones calls of potential Wolverine Worldwide dump sites, Hendershot says that number has been blown way out of proportion.

“And I know that this where a lot of your fear comes from is because you hear that number of 88 and it sounds like the entire northern Kent County is impacted. This is not the case.”

Meanwhile Wolverine Worldwide says that the company is actively working with health officials as well as residents.

For many, that answer may not good enough. On Tuesday, lawsuits had already been filed by residents against Wolverine Worldwide. Varnum Law attorney Aaron Phelps told WGVU that the firm represents over 100 residents who have already attached their name to a pending class action lawsuit.


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