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Wolverine Worldwide

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

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.