An Open Letter to Erin Brockovich from Wolverine Worldwide

Wolverine Worldwide would like to welcome Erin Brockovich to our hometown. We know how deeply you care about environmental issues, especially when it comes to water quality, and how they impact health and quality of life.

We know and respect your work in California as well as in many other places across the country and we agree with some statements you have made in the past about the pervasiveness of PFOA and PFOS, two of the family of compounds known as per- and polyflouroalkyl substances (PFAS), due to the vast array of products they have been used in for many decades.

While we are familiar with you, we also hope you take the time to learn about the work we’ve been doing for more than a year to restore the community’s faith in its water.  In case your national team of law firms – which includes Miller Law Firm, Robbins Geller Rudoman & Dowd LLP, and Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. – didn’t brief you, here are some of the facts:

We’ve been working closely with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on this issue since last year, when we became aware of the possible presence of PFOA and PFOS in groundwater at our former Tannery location.

We also have been working collaboratively with the Kent County Health Department, Plainfield Township, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the state’s recently formed Michigan PFAS Action Response Team.

We have been working aggressively to respond to concerns about PFOA and PFOS even though human health effects from exposure to these chemicals are unknown, and there is no human study that has been conducted that proves exposure of an individual to any PFAS, including PFOA or PFOS, causes any illness. For more information, see: https://wearewolverine.com/2017/11/20/facts-about-pfas/

We, along with regulators and scientists, are still learning about these chemicals, which were used in a wide range of products and industries, including aerospace, automotive, construction, electronics, packaging and textiles.

We have hired a leading environmental consulting firm to conduct testing for PFOA and PFOS for more than 1,000 homes in our community and we have paid for every test.

We have supplied bottled water to residents in testing areas for free while they have waited for test results for their wells.

We have paid for the installation of more than 300 custom, whole house filters for individual residents.

We have made a commitment to install whole house filters and point-of-use filters for homes in study areas identified in consultation with MDEQ that test positive for any level of PFOA or PFOS.

We assembled a team within Wolverine to deal with this challenging and evolving situation on a daily basis. Executives from this team have attended two community town hall events and we answer every question from the community. We’ve answered over 2,000 calls and emails from our friends, families and neighbors.

In November, we set up this blog site – WeAreWolverine.com – to provide the community with updates and factual information on a regular basis.

Why did we take these actions?  Simply because these are our friends, family and neighbors.  We wanted to be sure you knew what we’re doing so that you understand that we haven’t just said that we are committed to doing the right thing, but we’re really striving to do the right thing.

We are doing all of this because we have been here for nearly 140 years and we plan to be here for another 140 years.  We live here and work here – every employee at Wolverine cares deeply about this community.

Thanks again for taking the time to come to West Michigan, we hope you’ll enjoy your day here.  We’d like to invite you back this summer (the weather is little nicer then, we promise) and host you at our offices.  We could update you on this situation and all the steps we’ve taken to help make this right for our community and to be a part of the solution for our hometown.

We Are Wolverine.