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Wolverine Worldwide

The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI
From Google map provided by Wolverine Worldwide

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is advising people to avoid swallowing the foam that appears on top of the water in the Rogue River near Rockford, Michigan.

The foam is highly contaminated with PFAS, an emerging group of chemicals linked to reproductive, developmental, liver, and kidney problems. 

The agency says PFAS is not easily absorbed through the skin, so contact with the water is OK. But children who might accidentally ingest the foam should be kept from face contact with the water, or swimming.

The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI
From Google map provided by Wolverine Worldwide

This post has been updated to more accurately describe the EPA's role in Wolverine Worldwide's testing at the company's former tannery site. 

West Michigan shoe-manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide is under more federal scrutiny.

The Grand Rapids Press reports the EPA wants Wolverine to begin testing groundwater and soil at the company’s former tannery in Rockford mid-month.

John Westrock / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

New information has come to light about the way the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality handled an important warning on possible toxic chemical contamination of groundwater in Belmont, in west Michigan. 

A rusty barrel in the woods
Bryce Huffman

A Kent County woman believes groundwater contamination caused complications during her pregnancy, and that PFAS exposure may be to blame for the newborn's death.

Wolverine Worldwide is the shoe manufacturer believed to have contaminated groundwater near Rockford with PFAS. That's a family of chemicals often used to waterproof leather.

Ashlee Naffziger lived in Rockford for about 13 years before moving out of her mom’s house. She was on private well water during that time.

Judge's gavel
Pixabay.com

The state has filed a lawsuit against the shoe company believed to have caused ongoing groundwater contamination in Kent County.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality wants Wolverine Worldwide to come up with a timeline for the remediation.

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Michigan has set new cleanup rules for chemicals that have contaminated drinking water sources all around the state. The chemicals in question are per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

They were used in firefighting foam and in a wide range of products, from fast-food paper wrappers to textiles and carpeting, pesticides, printing inks, and more. They have since been linked to some cancers and other health problems.

Rogue River
Trout Unlimited

More Kent County residents will have their private wells tested for toxic chemicals after the state expanded its testing zone this week.

Wolverine Worldwide manufactures shoes for brands like Hush Puppies and Merrell. The company is believed to be the source of the groundwater contamination.

Senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry joins Morning Edition host Doug Tribou to reflect on the major stories of 2017: 

A rusty barrel in the woods
Bryce Huffman

On Monday, environmental activist Erin Brockovich spoke at a west Michigan town hall.

She was there in support of a class-action lawsuit filed against three companies – 3M, Wolverine Worldwide, and Waste Management.

The suit accuses them of dumping toxic waste and polluting the groundwater in several areas of Kent County with a family of chemicals known as PFAS, which stands for per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Erin Brockovich speaking to West Michigan residents at town hall meeting
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Consumer advocate and environmental activist Erin Brockovich wants West Michigan residents to join a class action suit against shoe manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide.

Brockovich held a town hall meeting Saturday to let residents know what work she has done and plans to do for them.

The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI
From Google map provided by Wolverine Worldwide

A West Michigan lawmaker wants the CEO of a major shoe manufacturer to testify in front of state House oversight committee.

Wolverine Worldwide, which is based just north of Grand Rapids, is believed to be responsible for groundwater contamination in northern Kent County.

A courtroom
Bill Ledbetter / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some national law firms filed a class action lawsuit today against Wolverine Worldwide and 3M Corporation over a toxic chemical plume in West Michigan.

The suit alleges that Wolverine dumped harmful chemicals in the environment. It also alleges that the company didn't do enough to fix the problem.

MDEQ

Health officials in Kent County plan to investigate whether there are cancer clusters near waste dump sites once used by  the shoemaker Wolverine World Wide tannery in Rockford.

Brian Hartl, an epidemiologist with the Kent County Health Department, joined Stateside today to explain what the department knows now, and how it plans to move forward.

Wolverine tannery neighbors threaten suit to force cleanup

Oct 15, 2017
Map from the MDEQ of affected area
MDEQ

Residents who live near an old leather tannery waste dump in western Michigan are threatening to sue Wolverine World Wide to force it to clean up the site.

Attorneys for 40 residents near the long-forgotten dump sent Wolverine a notice of intent to sue on Friday.

They want the Rockford-based global footwear company to remove contaminated soil from the 76-acre property, rebury it in a pit lined with a hazardous waste liner and then encircle the property with a slurry wall to contain polluted water.

East Rockford Middle School
Rockford Public Schools

A West Michigan shoe manufacturer is sending bottled water to East Rockford Middle School. 

An old dumpsite for shoemaker Wolverine Worldwide is believed to be responsible for a chemical leak in the area that could pose health risks. That dumpsite is within a mile of the school.

About 800 students are drinking bottled water until groundwater test results come back.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A West Michigan shoe company is supplying whole-house water filters to some residents affected by water contamination near Grand Rapids.

Chris Hufnagel is with Wolverine Worldwide, the company believed to be responsible for the toxic chemicals, called PFASs, that were discovered in private drinking wells.

Map from the MDEQ of affected area
MDEQ

The shoe manufacturing company believed to have contaminated groundwater in two West Michigan communities still doesn't know exactly how it happened.

Chris Hufnagel is with Wolverine World Wide, the shoe company believed to be the source of the toxic chemicals.

water faucet
Laura Nawrocik / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is investigating whether a shoe manufacturer is responsible for water contamination in West Michigan.

In the 1960s, Wolverine Worldwide used a licensed dump site near Rockford to get rid of waste from its leather tanning process. Two chemicals used in the process, PFOS and PFOA, are now showing up in nearby residential wells.

Staff Sgt Brandon Aird 173rd ABCT PAO - Flickr
MarsRover/Wikireporter / Creative Commons

Hundreds of employees at Bates Footwear in Big Rapids, Michigan manufacture shoes and boots for the general public and the military.

But the jobs could be at risk because of a federal rule change.

The change means Bates Footwear can no longer bid on military contracts set aside for small businesses - because Bates Footwear is now considered part of the larger corporation that owns it - Wolverine Worldwide.