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Attorney claims Wolverine World Wide refusing to pay for municipal water to PFAS contaminated areas

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An attorney representing Plainfield and Algoma Townships says Wolverine World Wide is refusing to pay for the extension of municipal drinking water to residents affected with PFAS. That’s the chemical the Rockford-based shoemaker dumped decades ago contaminating drinking water wells in the House Street and Wellington Ridge areas.

Throughout 2018 there have been negotiations between Plainfield and Algoma Township officials and Wolverine World Wide that it would contribute to a $25 million dollar municipal water extension from Plainfield Township’s system to 300 residents whose ground water well were contaminated by Wolverine’s dumping of PFAS chemicals.

“Now that we’ve finished that process, we’re ready to turn the shovel, they backed out.”

That’s municipal attorney Doug Van Essen. He claims Wolverine World Wide is backing out because it contends the chemical manufacturer, 3M, should contribute to the cost. Van Essen argues the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is suing Wolverine World Wide in federal court in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. 

“This is a RCRA lawsuit. RCRA holds people accountable for their waste disposal practices. 3M had nothing to do with the waste disposal practices of Wolverine. So, while there may be other theories that they can use, you know, that’s their responsibility in a separate lawsuit after they’ve been found responsible here to go after 3M. But they don’t even belong in this lawsuit.”

In response, Wolverine World Wide says it remains at the negotiating table seeking drinking water solutions. “From the beginning, we have said that multiple parties contributed to the water quality issues in our community, and any solutions must include all relevant parties.”

Patrick Center, WGVU News

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.