Wolverine to Intercept and Treat Groundwater from former Tannery site

As Wolverine Worldwide continues to work with regulatory agencies to monitor our former Tannery site and House Street disposal area, we wanted to update you on our latest efforts to address groundwater issues in our area.

Over the past several months, Wolverine has been developing a plan to intercept and treat groundwater from the former Tannery site that contains PFOA/PFOS, preventing it from reaching Rum Creek or the Rogue River.

We are now working in coordination with MDEQ to expedite this process following a recent test result showing the presence of PFOS in foam in one location in the Rogue RiverThe Kent County Health Department (KCHD) announced the test result today and issued an advisory.  In that advisory, KCHD indicates that people using the river for recreational purposes should avoid ingestion of the foam, but that skin contact does not pose a health risk.

While additional testing will be conducted and sources of PFOS in the river and foam are still being identified, we are doing our part to address it. Wolverine expects that the interception and treatment of groundwater at the former Tannery site will help reduce PFOS levels in this foam.

In water bodies where foam with PFOS is generated, the PFOS is concentrated in the foam and is not reflective of the PFOS level in the underlying river and creek water.  For example, as we shared on our blog last fall, the Rogue River was tested in multiple locations in 2017 and levels ranged from 6.2 – 16.8 ppt for PFOA/PFOS combined.

While not applicable to river water or foam because they are not used for drinking water, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has issued a drinking water lifetime health advisory and the State of Michigan has established drinking water criteria at 70 ppt combined for PFOA/PFOS.  Additional water and foam testing will be conducted in the future in coordination with MDEQ to provide additional data and help identify potential sources.

We are sharing this information because we want residents to know what we know. Our first priority has been and continues to be the health and well-being of the community. We will continue to be proactive and transparent as we work through these issues related to our legacy tannery operations.

Wolverine began closing its tanning operation in Rockford in 2009 through a process monitored by the MDEQ and other government regulators, and we have been working with the MDEQ since then to monitor this site.  We continue to work in collaboration with the MDEQ and other agencies on this issue.  As we develop and deploy this plan and more information becomes available, we will continue to keep our neighbors and the community informed through our blog – www.WeAreWolverine.com

Additional Testing to Begin at Former House Street Disposal Area

Wolverine Worldwide has been working diligently with regulators to collect data and develop long-term water solutions for our community, and we promised to keep you informed about our ongoing efforts.  Consistent with this commitment, we want to tell you about additional groundwater and soil sampling that will be taking place over the next few months at our former state-licensed House Street disposal area.  This was a location where byproducts from Wolverine’s leather tanning operations were disposed of during the 1960s and until 1970.

Wolverine has already conducted extensive testing at the House Street disposal area, including many waste and soil samples, drilling 12 on-site monitoring wells, drilling 18 off-site monitoring wells, and taking more than 25 groundwater samples from the monitoring wells.  Wolverine posted preliminary results from this earlier testing on its blog.

The upcoming work is being performed by Wolverine and its consultants pursuant to work plans that were submitted by Wolverine and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).   It will kick off this week with site preparation activities, and take place primarily over the next two months with a second round of testing this fall.  The work will be overseen by the EPA and the MDEQ, and we anticipate that as many as 250 soil samples, 50 groundwater samples, and also soil gas samples will be taken and assessed for organic compounds, metals, PFAS, and other compounds.

Residents near the House Street site have been notified about this work, and over this time you may see trucks, work crews, warning signs and equipment at the House Street site.  We will attempt to complete this work with as little impact on and disruption to the surrounding neighbors as possible.

The upcoming testing is another example of the Company’s commitment to work diligently with regulators and the community to address groundwater issues.  We anticipate implementing a work plan at Wolverine’s former tannery site this summer as well, and will share additional details about that work on this blog as they are available.  Residents with questions or concerns are encouraged to visit our blog at www.WeAreWolverine.com, or to contact the Company directly at 616.866.5627 or HouseStreet@wwwinc.com.

Wolverine Worldwide Releases Preliminary Testing on House Street Disposal Area

Wolverine Worldwide has been working diligently with regulators to collect data and develop long-term water solutions for our community and we have promised to keep you informed about our ongoing efforts.

Over the past year, Wolverine has conducted extensive testing at its former House Street disposal area in Plainfield Township, a state-licensed disposal site where waste from Wolverine’s leather tanning operations was disposed of during the 1960’s and until 1970.  This testing included taking many waste and soil samples, drilling 12 on-site monitoring wells, drilling 18 off-site monitoring wells, and taking more than 25 groundwater samples from the monitoring wells.

In February, Wolverine submitted a report to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) including preliminary findings from this testing.  The report Wolverine submitted, known as a “Conceptual Site Model” or “CSM,” provides an analysis of the compounds present in the waste, soil, and groundwater samples taken at the House Street site.  To date, this testing suggests that with the exception of PFAS compounds like PFOA and PFOS, metals and compounds in tannery waste disposed of at the House Street site are not migrating into soil or groundwater at unacceptable levels.

As noted by Mark Westra of Rose & Westra, a division of GZA, “Sampling performed for the Conceptual Site Model identified tannery waste as expected, containing copper, lead, chromium, mercury, zinc, PFOA, PFOS and other compounds.  While additional investigation is pending, soil samples collected underneath the waste to date did not contain any non-PFAS compounds at concentrations greater than Michigan’s generic cleanup criteria for soil, suggesting  that the non-PFAS compounds are not leaching significantly from the waste.  In addition, materials typically associated with tanning operations, such as chromium, were not detected in groundwater at the House Street site.”

In addition to the testing Wolverine has done at the House Street disposal area, MDEQ has tested groundwater at surrounding properties for metals and other non-PFAS compounds, and received no results above state and/or federal guidelines.  This is further evidence that, with the exception of PFAS compounds, tannery waste does not pose a threat to area groundwater, health or the environment.

We will continue working with EPA and MDEQ to analyze this data, and will be collecting additional data in the coming months pursuant to a work plan Wolverine proposed that is currently being reviewed by EPA.  We anticipate providing information about the upcoming work on this blog within the next couple of days.

Also, now that MDEQ has completed its analysis and redacted personal information, the preliminary House Street CSM can be found here.

All of these actions announced today underscore how seriously Wolverine is taking this issue and our continued commitment to see it through the end.  Residents with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the Company directly at 616.866.5627 or HouseStreet@wwwinc.com.

Additional Monitoring Results Demonstrate Continued Effectiveness of Whole House Filters

In our ongoing commitment to provide residents confidence in their drinking water and share information with the community, we are providing the most recent monitoring results for whole house filters installed by Wolverine.

Wolverine summarized the first set of monitoring results in late January, which included results from over 280 homes.  That first group of results demonstrated that the whole house filters effectively reduce PFOA/PFOS to levels far below the EPA’s lifetime health advisory level of 70 ppt.

Wolverine is pleased to report that the latest results are consistent with the earlier results, and continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of the whole house filters.  Wolverine has now collected over 600 monitoring samples from over 500 homes over a period of more than five months.  Some of the highlights of the most recent test results:

  • Samples from homes with the highest concentrations of PFOA/PFOS (over 7,500 ppt) are taken weekly, and the results of the effluent (filtered) water continue to be less than 3 ppt for PFOA/PFOS.
  • Samples from homes with PFOA/PFOS concentrations of 1,000-7,499 ppt are taken monthly, and the results of the effluent (filtered) water continue to be less than 5 ppt for PFOA/PFOS.
  • Samples from homes with PFOA/PFOS concentrations of 71-1,000 ppt are taken quarterly, and the results continue to range from non-detect to less than 8 ppt for PFOA/PFOS.  These results were taken between the two carbon canisters, and the water continues through the second carbon canister of the system for further reduction.
  • Homes with PFOA/PFOS concentrations at or lower than 70 ppt continue to be monitored, and for these homes the water between the two carbon canisters has remained well below 70 ppt for PFOA/PFOS.

To date, Wolverine has paid for the installation, testing, and maintenance of more than 500 whole house filters and 150 point-of-use filters, and additional installations are taking place every week.  Wolverine has also paid for sampling of over 1,500 residential wells, provided bottled water to over 1,200 homes, and installed over 70 monitoring wells.

In late November, Wolverine provided details about the operation and maintenance of the Culligan/Calgon whole house filter systems that Wolverine selected, which have been used to treat water for PFAS in over 1,500 homes around the country and have been demonstrated to effectively remove PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS, ensuring that these compounds are not returned to the environment.  These filters include at least two granular activated carbon canisters and two sediment filters.  The frequency for carbon canister replacement will be determined based on post-installation testing results, and Culligan will remove and dispose of these canisters when they are replaced.  The sediment filters will be changed by Culligan every four months, and homeowners can place the used filters in their garbage.  Homeowners will be notified by Culligan when either the carbon canisters or sediment filters need to be replaced.

Additional information about this filtration system and a diagram depicting the different filters can be found here.  We will continue to keep the community updated about monitoring results and filter maintenance through our blog at WeAreWolverine.com.  Any residents with questions are encouraged to contact us directly at (616) 866-5627 of HouseStreet@wwwinc.com.