March 2019 Community Update

In our continuing effort to keep the community informed about Wolverine Worldwide’s efforts to address water quality issues in the area, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide an update to the community on the steps we have taken to-date and will be taking in 2019.

Wolverine’s Commitment to the Community

Wolverine Worldwide’s commitment to helping our friends, family, and neighbors address water quality issues in the area has never wavered.  From the start, we’ve taken proactive, aggressive actions to ensure all affected residents have access to safe drinking water.  In addition, we have worked closely with U.S. EPA, MDEQ, and other regulators to test sites for the presence of PFOA and PFOS, two of the chemicals from 3M Scotchgard™ used in Wolverine’s legacy operations.

Some of our other actions include:

  • Sampling more than 1,500 residential wells for PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS compounds
  • Providing proven, highly effective water filters to over 700 homeowners. For the latest information demonstrating the effectiveness of these filters, please click here
  • Monitoring over 500 whole house filters and resampling the water in those homes, some as often as weekly
  • Conducting thorough environmental investigations at the House Street and former Tannery properties – including drilling over 70 monitoring wells and collecting and analyzing over 1,350 soil samples, 350 groundwater samples, 100 sediment samples, 100 soil gas samples and 14 surface water samples. For more information about this work, including a description of recent testing and next steps, please click here
  • Designing and installing a filtration system at our former Tannery, to capture and treat groundwater before it reaches the Rogue River. For the latest information about this system and other actions we are taking, please click here
  • Meeting weekly with the State of Michigan and other regulators to analyze data and discuss next steps
  • Committing over $35 million to these efforts directly benefiting our community

Despite ongoing litigation and administrative actions, our collaborative relationship with regulators has not changed, and we continue working productively with them on solutions for our community.

Wolverine’s Commitment to Collaboration and Response to Litigation

At the same time Wolverine continues to work tirelessly on behalf of our community, we have repeatedly said that we will vigorously defend ourselves against litigation and take action to ensure that all involved parties – including 3M and our insurers – take responsibility for this matter.  Most recently, for example, Wolverine filed a lawsuit in federal court against 3M, which developed, tested, manufactured and sold Scotchgard™ to Wolverine and millions of others for decades, yet has repeatedly refused to accept any responsibility for the consequences.

One subject that has come up is a Plainfield Township plan to extend its municipal water system to certain homes in the area.  Wolverine has said from the start that we intend to be part of developing water quality solutions for our community – and our actions to-date have backed up these words.  Whether these solutions include the extension of municipal water, and whether Plainfield Township or a different entity would be the supplier, however, has not yet been decided.  Those decisions will be based on facts and data that are still being gathered, as well as discussions with regulators and other involved parties – not through rhetoric and grandstanding by Township officials.

Finally, we firmly believe all parties – including 3M – must be involved in discussing and developing solutions.  Far from representing a change in position, as Township officials have claimed, this has been Wolverine’s position from the start, which we have expressed publicly, privately, and in court by suing 3M and our insurers.

Wolverine’s Next Steps

Over the coming months, we will continue working hard every day on behalf of our friends, family, and neighbors in the community, and working collaboratively with regulators and other involved parties on next steps.  Additional information will be posted on our blog, WeAreWolverine.com, as it becomes available, and in the meantime please feel free to reach out to us directly at (616) 866-5627 or HouseStreet@wwwinc.com.

Wolverine Worldwide Sues 3M For Concealing Information About Scotchgard and Causing Environmental Issues

Today, Wolverine filed a lawsuit in federal court against 3M, which developed, tested, manufactured, and sold ScotchgardTM to Wolverine and millions of others for decades, but has repeatedly refused to accept any responsibility for the impact of ScotchgardTM.  Wolverine also called for the State of Michigan to sue 3M, as other states have already done, and as Governor Snyder asked for earlier this year.  In addition, last week Wolverine sued its insurers, who have refused to honor their policies and participate in the defense and remediation efforts that Wolverine has been leading for over 18 months.

Even while Wolverine is taking these necessary legal actions, its commitment to helping our friends, family, and neighbors remains steadfast.  Over the past 18 months we have:

  • Sampled over 1,500 residential wells and installed more than 70 monitoring wells;
  • Offered bottled drinking water to every home being sampled;
  • Provided over 500 whole-house filters and over 200 point-of-use filters that are proven to eliminate PFOA and PFOS, two of the chemicals contained in Scotchgard; and
  • Worked at an accelerated pace with the MDEQ and EPA at the Company’s House Street disposal site and former Tannery site to fully determine the possible sources and extent of PFOA and PFOS.

Wolverine’s actions today related to 3M and the State of Michigan are fully consistent with what Wolverine has said from the start – that all involved parties must be involved in discussing and developing solutions.

To read the Company’s press release and its lawsuit against 3M, please click the links below.

Wolverine Worldwide Sues 3M For Concealing Information About Scotchgard and Causing Environmental Issues

Wolverine World Wide, Inc. vs. 3M Company

Update on discussions with Plainfield Township, State of Michigan

Wolverine always has been and remains committed to the community, as evidenced by its actions over the past 18 months.  Wolverine has installed over 500 proven, highly effective whole-house filters and over 200 point of use filters that virtually eliminate any presence of PFOA and PFOS.  In addition, we continue to provide Culligan drinking water to hundreds of homes.  Finally, we’ve worked at an accelerated pace at our House Street property, former Tannery, and the surrounding areas, sampling over 1,500 residential wells, installing over 70 monitoring wells, collecting hundreds of soil and groundwater samples, and working closely with the DEQ and EPA to fully determine the possible sources and extent of PFOA and PFOS.

This commitment carries through to discussing water quality issues and additional long term water solutions for the community, including the Township’s proposal for an extension of its municipal water system.  Wolverine Worldwide has been and remains at the table to discuss these issues.  This is a position we have held since day one, and any suggestion that Wolverine is unwilling to negotiate, has stepped away from the table, or has recently changed its position is simply untrue.

From the beginning, however, we have also said that multiple parties contributed to the water quality issues in our community, and that any solution must include all relevant parties. We made this position clear in a February 23, 2018, letter to the Township saying, “We wholeheartedly agree with the Township that many parties contributed to the water quality issues facing our community, and believe that any long-term solution must involve all those parties.” In addition, both Plainfield Township and the State have recognized the role that other parties have played in area water quality issues, and the need to involve those parties.

Negotiating through the media is counterproductive, and that is why we have tried to remain silent about the status of the discussions.  Even so, through our words and our actions, we’ve demonstrated that Wolverine is committed to continuing its efforts to work with the experts, gather the right data, involve the right parties, and find the best solutions for our community.

State’s review of cancer rates in northern Kent County finds few differences with statewide averages

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services along with the Kent County Health Department on Tuesday released a review of health data that, with the exception of prostate cancer,  found no consistent elevation in cancer rates for the selected areas of northern Kent County.

However, the MDHHS report made it clear that any potential link between PFAS and prostate cancer is “weak and there are other factors known to influence prostate [cancer] incidence that are beyond the scope of this review to address.”  These include differences in genetics, environmental exposures, PSA screening rates and socioeconomic status.

Michigan’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eden Wells said, MDHHS is “not convinced” that the elevated incidence for prostate cancer is fully explained by PFAS, and MDHHS could not “make that linkage” between prostate cancer and PFAS.

Kent County Health Officer Adam London concluded the meeting saying  he was relieved by the results.

“I’ve been very concerned. I think a lot of people in our community have been very concerned and had a fear that we were going to see, when we looked at the data, that we were going to see some extraordinary difference in the rate of cancer in this area. I’m encouraged and I’m thankful that overall, we’re not seeing that,” London said.

The lack of definitive and elevated results presented by health officials underscores how complicated issues related to PFAS continue to be.  As MDHHS notes, the ability to draw any more specific conclusions is constrained by the limitations of the study.  These include:

  • The study cannot determine the linkage of any cancer occurrence with environmental conditions including PFAS exposure nor the cause of observed increases or decreases of any cancer types over time.
  • The areas analyzed as part of the study do not exactly match the MDEQ Study Areas.
  • The study cannot determine which individuals (with or without cancer) residing with the evaluated geographic area have been exposed to PFAS.

The MDHHS report released today is the first step in an ongoing and long-term scientific analysis of the potential health impacts of PFAS exposure in our community.  Wolverine Worldwide continues to work diligently with all local, state and federal regulators to collect the right data and develop long-term solutions for our community.

You can read the state’s full report here: https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/MIDHHS/2018/08/14/file_attachments/1054874/2018-08-14%2BKent%2BCounty%2BCancer%2BIncidence%2BReport%2BFINAL.pdf

A replay of the joint press conference hosted by the Kent County Health Department and the state can be found here: https://livestream.com/wood/special-events/videos/178928776