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

Additional Testing to Begin at Former Tannery Site

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, surface water, sediment and soil sampling that will take place over the next few months at our former tannery in Rockford.  Wolverine operated the tannery from the early 1900s until it was closed in 2009, then decommissioned beginning in 2010 under agency supervision.

Wolverine has already conducted testing at the former tannery site, including many soil samples, drilling 42 on-site monitoring wells, and taking more than 165 groundwater samples from the monitoring wells.  Wolverine reported preliminary results from this earlier testing in our blog in November.

The upcoming work is being performed by Wolverine and its consultants pursuant to work plans submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

Work kicked off this week with site preparation activities and will take place primarily over the next three months, with a second round of testing this fall.  The work will be overseen by the EPA and MDEQ.  We anticipate that approximately 100 soil samples, 100 groundwater samples, 14 surface water samples and 35 to 70 sediment samples will be taken and assessed for organic compounds, metals, PFAS, and other compounds.  Up to 10 additional monitoring wells may also be added to the site.

Over the next three months, you may see trucks, work crews, warning signs and equipment at the site, which will be fenced off for the duration of the work.  There will also be some work in the White Pine Trail for approximately a week.  We will attempt to complete this work with as little disruption as possible.

In addition, even while testing is still taking place, Wolverine is already moving forward with a plan announced earlier this month to intercept and treat groundwater from the former Tannery site that contains PFOA/PFOS to prevent it from reaching Rum Creek or the Rogue River.  Wolverine expects that the interception and treatment of groundwater at the former tannery site will help reduce PFOA/PFOS levels and is working with MDEQ to develop that plan.

The efforts announced today are examples of Wolverine’s commitment to work diligently with regulators, our neighbors and the surrounding community to address groundwater issues.  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.