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.

Wolverine Extends Water Filtration Program

In our ongoing commitment to provide residents confidence in their drinking water, Wolverine Worldwide has made the decision to extend its filtration program to residents in the MDEQ-defined Rogue River, Wolven Northeast, and North Childsdale Study Areas.  While sources are still being identified, we remain committed to the community and to doing what we believe to be the right thing for our friends, family and neighbors.

On January 10, 2018, the State of Michigan adopted a drinking water criterion of 70 ppt combined for PFOA and PFOS, which set an official standard for acceptable concentrations of these substances in groundwater used for drinking water purposes.  This is the same conservative level adopted by the EPA in May 2016, which includes a significant safety buffer and assumes continued exposure over an entire 70-year lifetime.

As a result of the state’s new criterion of 70 ppt for PFOA/PFOS, Wolverine has changed its water filtration program in the study areas, including  the Rogue River, Wolven Northeast, and North Childsdale Study Areas, as follows:

  • Residents who have received confirmed results with a combined detection over 70 ppt for PFOA/PFOS are eligible to receive a whole house filter. Eligible residents will be contacted by Culligan to arrange for installation.  These systems use dual canister granular activated carbon adsorption, and retesting from over 500 systems installed locally has demonstrated that they effectively remove PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS, while at the same time ensuring that these substances are not returned to the environment.  Post-installation sampling and filter replacement for whole house filters is being conducted at Wolverine’s expense while additional data is collected.
  • Residents who have received confirmed results with a detection of PFOA or PFOS, but at a combined level that does not exceed 70 ppt, are eligible to receive a point-of-use filter for their kitchen sink. These systems are simple to operate, certified for the removal of PFOA/PFOS, and Wolverine has successfully installed over 100 of them in area homes.  Filter replacement for point-of-use filters is being conducted at Wolverine’s expense while additional data is collected.

Even though the State has determined that 70 ppt of PFOA/PFOS is an acceptable level in drinking water, Wolverine is offering point-of-use filters to residents with lower concentrations because we are committed to providing residents confidence in their drinking water, and to doing what we believe to be the right thing for our friends, family and neighbors.

We started this blog to speak directly to the community and to help keep the facts straight, and we intend to do just that.  Any residents with questions are encouraged to contact Wolverine directly at (616) 866-5627 or HouseStreet@wwwinc.com.

We Are Wolverine.

Wolverine Continues to Work with the State to Develop Long-Term Water Solutions; Welcomes Plainfield Township Input

Wolverine Worldwide has consistently said that all options remain on the table related to resolving the water quality issues facing our community, and that it is open to a comprehensive solution based on the right data and involving all necessary parties.

Wolverine’s commitment to being part of a long-term solution is apparent from its actions – it has paid for over 1,500 groundwater tests, provided bottled water to over 1,200 homes, installed over 70 monitoring wells, and installed over 500 whole-house filters and over 100 point-of-use filters.

The vast majority of these filters are in homes with no detections of PFOA/PFOS or with levels far below the conservative 70 parts per trillion (ppt) level set by the EPA and the State for PFOA/PFOS.  In addition, we recently committed $40 million towards our continuing efforts to address water quality in the area.

These proactive steps have ensured that residents have safe, high quality water that exceeds the safety levels set by the EPA and the State of Michigan.  They have also provided all parties the time and opportunity to gather the necessary data, involve the appropriate parties, and identify and implement the right long-term solutions for our community.  Wolverine has been working diligently and cooperatively through this process with the State for nearly a year, and last month the State filed a lawsuit seeking to formalize and solidify the timeline and next steps.

We understand Plainfield Township is considering a resolution tonight to try to become a party to the State’s lawsuit.  It is possible an expansion of the Township’s municipal water system could be part of a comprehensive plan, along with other solutions used around the country, like drilling deeper wells and using filters similar to those Wolverine has already provided.  Given this, we welcome the Township’s input into our discussions with the State about long-term solutions.

Due to the involvement of the State and the process it has initiated, however, we are not in a position to move forward with separate, premature discussions with the Township on its proposal to begin construction of a municipal water extension this summer.  This would short circuit the State’s involvement and our responsibility to them. It also would not be based on the right data, would not take into account the significant water solutions Wolverine has already implemented, and would not involve the right parties.

We’ve said from the start that we will see this issue through to the end, and we are committed to providing the residents of our community the confidence they deserve in their water.  To accomplish this, we will continue our collaborative and expedited efforts to develop long-term water solutions for the community and, as appropriate, we welcome the Township to participate in our discussions and actions with the State on this topic.

We started this blog to speak directly to the community and to help keep the facts straight, and we intend to do just that.  Any residents with questions are encouraged to contact Wolverine directly at (616) 866-5627 or HouseStreet@wwwinc.com.

We Are Wolverine.