Residents excluded from PFAS facility express frustration
KENT COUNTY, MI – The Andersons want to sell their house. They are looking to downsize. But they said they had a problem – no one would ever buy their house because the water has been tested for PFAS in the past.
900 parts per trillion at any given time, they said.
And unlike around 1,000 households around them, they will not benefit from a free connection to municipal water.
“I don’t think it’s a fair choice for them to choose who they want to hook up water to,” said Marilyn Anderson.
Rockford-based shoe maker Wolverine World Wide announced in December that it pay $ 69.5 million for new municipal water pipes and filtration in northern Kent County.
Years ago, the company dumped tannery waste that contaminated the area’s groundwater with toxic fluorochemicals that were in the company’s leather manufacturing waste.
The tentative construction schedule for 1,000 new municipal service lines in the Plainfield and Algoma Townships area was explained in a public forum on February 4. This is part of a consent decree between the townships, the state and Wolverine.
During the forum, several people from outside the area who will either get new municipal water connections or free filters in their homes spoke out.
“Why can’t they bring us water? Fiona Williams asked during the forum. She lives in the Childsdale area of Plainfield Township. She said there are water pipes that could be hooked up around them, so why aren’t they part of the colony.
“It’s an old section, a long time ago. I feel like we’re going to be overlooked, ”said Williams. “It’s just a small section.”
Others asked why the Boulder Creek area was not included. Or the Spring Valley Mobile Home Park near Boulder Creek.
“Unfortunately, when you have a crisis like this, you have to tackle it one area at a time,” Plainfield and Algoma Township lawyer Doug Van Essen said after the forum.
“The state and Wolverine were primarily responsible for determining which areas were going to be investigated first. And that was House Street and the Algoma Township area. The northern Kent study areas are therefore the ones that received the most initial attention in the first two years.
Van Essen said the parties were all able to come to a compromise on the North Kent study area, but people outside the area will have to wait to find out the extent of the pollution, where it is coming from. and who is the responsible party. .
The question of who is responsible for the pollution could make it difficult for others to get help.
For example, during the forum, Van Essen explained that in the Boulder Creek area, it is not clear how much responsibility Wolverine has in this area, in part because it has not been studied like the townships of Plainfield and Algoma.
Boulder Creek Golf Course built on 12 acres of Wolverine tannery waste in the late 1990s. Golf has since filed a complaint against Wolverine, accusing him of hiding his knowledge of the environmental risks posed by 3M Scotchgard. Scotchgard has been applied to shoe leather for years at the the company’s former Rockford tannery.
Wolverine said he was not responsible for the contamination of Boulder Creek as other companies dumped there.
“There are other responsible parties, frankly, who were involved in the Boulder Creek garbage dump,” Van Essen said.
“The bad news is, I don’t have a resolution for you guys yet.”
But there is nothing in the consent decree that would prevent future lawsuits against Wolverine for that region, Van Essen said.
Spring Valley Mobile Home Park is near the contaminated Boulder Creek Golf Course and has since had its own PFAS issues in its wells.
“Ours would be an easy fix, because if they installed this whole house filter on our two wells, our 68 residents would be safe,” Helen Fiser said after the forum. She is the coordinator of the Spring Valley Citizens Association.
Spring Valley’s wells are under review by the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Fiser said, but they fall short of any sort of resolution.
“We are in the first phase of the six stages of the investigation. We’re not even close to a trial yet. And so we’re trying to find a way to speed it up because you’ve got people suffering from it, there’s no relief in sight until we can do something to make the water safe.
Spring Valley manager Gina Harrington did not find the forum useful. But Fiser was more optimistic.
“It lets you know that it’s possible for people to take responsibility,” she said. “But the reason I went ahead was to reinforce what I understood, that it doesn’t affect us in any way.”
During the meeting, Van Essen said he would speak to the attorney general’s office about what is going to be done for people like Fiser and the people of Spring Valley. But he said the benefit of eliminating this regulation is that it frees up time for EGLE to study other areas.
Exposure to chemicals was bound to a range of health problems, including cancer, autoimmune diseases and changes in hormone levels. They have been nicknamed “chemicals forever” because the compounds resist degradation in the environment.
The Attorney General’s Office and EGLE are hosting the State Forum from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, February 10 at Rockford High School. The state will accept email comments on the proposed consent decree until February 13.
The townships of EGLE, Plainfield and Algoma filed a complaint in 2018 against the global footwear company. In December, it was announced that Wolverine had agreed to pay $ 69.5 million for new municipal water lines and filtration in northern Kent County.