Wolverine Worldwide Submits Reports of 2018 Testing at Former Tannery and House Street Sites; Provides Additional Details on Tannery Filtration System

Testing Reports

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.

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 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.

Wolverine Worldwide Releases Test Results From Former Tannery Site, Rogue River & Rum Creek

No Drinking Water at Risk; Experts Say No Health Risk From Swimming or Recreational Contact

Wolverine Worldwide today announced results of the water sampled for testing from its former Tannery site in Rockford. This testing was done to further evaluate the groundwater and surface water – the sources of water sampled at these sites, including the Rogue River and Rum Creek, are not used for drinking water.  The Company has worked closely with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on this testing, and has already submitted a proposal to the MDEQ outlining next steps to further evaluate the Tannery site.

To read the full press release, click the link below.

Wolverine Worldwide Releases Test Results From Former Tannery Site, Rouge River & Rum Creek

Rogue River Map