Wolverine Worldwide has been working diligently with regulators over the past 24 months to conduct testing and collect data from our former Tannery and House Street sites. We shared preliminary results from the Tannery in November 2017, and from House Street in May 2018. We announced plans to conduct additional testing at these sites in May 2018 and June 2018.
Wolverine operated the Tannery in Rockford from the early 1890s until it was closed in 2009, then decommissioned, demolished, and tested under EPA and MDEQ supervision. For a period of time while the Tannery was in operation, certain leather was treated with Scotchgard™, which 3M developed and profited from by selling it to Wolverine and millions of others. House Street was a state-licensed and regulated disposal site where byproducts from Wolverine’s tannery operations were disposed of during the 1960s and beginning of 1970.
The additional testing completed at these two locations in 2018 was extensive, and included more than 1,700 groundwater, surface water, sediment, soil, and vapor gas samples, along with the installation of 107 monitoring wells and almost 800 soil borings. Substances tested for included PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS compounds, along with metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), and organic compounds.
The work completed is depicted on these maps, and work at the former Tannery is described in this detailed Summary Report we submitted to the EPA in January 2019. We submitted a similar report to the EPA regarding 2018 testing at House Street, and we will release that report once the EPA has completed its review.
The results of the extensive groundwater testing at the former Tannery were largely consistent with those received in earlier testing and, as a reminder, this groundwater is not used for drinking water. A few locations had elevated levels of certain compounds in soils below the surface, and Wolverine has proposed to remove those soils and to also take the following actions that are under review by the EPA:
- Kayak Launch Area: The installation of a protective matting in the area around the boat launch where the public may walk in the water during boat launch or removal. Once the matting is installed, it will be covered with gravel similar to the gravel currently installed at the boat launch near the water line.
- Rum Creek Access Area: Install a fence between the river and the White Pine Trail to minimize access to this area while the investigation continues.
- Lead and Chromium: Continue testing to identify and locate the extent of these materials and excavate those materials where necessary.
Rogue River Tannery Filtration System
We also wanted to provide an update to the community on the filtration system we announced last year to intercept and treat groundwater from the former Tannery before it reaches the Rogue River. We took the initiative to develop and implement a solution to remove PFOA and PFOS (two of the chemicals from 3M’s Scotchgard product), as well as a range of other substances from groundwater at the former Tannery because the Rogue River is important to Wolverine, and we know how important it is to the community.
Currently, we are completing the design and engineering of the system. Earlier this year, we drilled three extraction wells in the locations shown on this map, which will be used in the system to intercept groundwater from the former Tannery site and divert it to a filtration system.
Over the next few months, we will be installing and testing the filtration equipment, which will remove PFOA, PFOS, a range of other PFAS compounds, metals, VOCs, SVOCs, and organic compounds. We expect the system will be installed and ready to begin operating by Fall of this year. Wolverine will regularly monitor its effectiveness and provide additional details as they become available.
All of these efforts represent additional examples of Wolverine’s commitment to working proactively and aggressively to address groundwater issues in the area, and to doing its part to address them. Residents with questions are encouraged to visit our blog at www.WeAreWolverine.com, or to contact us directly at (616) 866-5627 or HouseStreet@wwwinc.com.