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EPA in Michigan

Wolverine World Wide Tannery

July 12, 2019

EPA and EGLE Working on Cleanup of Contamination 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) are coordinating their investigation and cleanup of tannery pollution found in the Rockford and Belmont, Mich., areas. The contamination comes from Wolverine World Wide’s former tannery in Rockford and a waste dump known as the House Street Disposal Area in Belmont. Contaminants include per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. The pollution also contains heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and semi- volatile organic compounds, or SVOCs. Pollution has affected groundwater, so filters and bottled water have been provided to impacted residents. EGLE remains the lead agency investigating PFAS contamination in groundwater, surface water, and drinking water. EPA is directing the investigation of other contamination that may be associated with Wolverine’s former tannery and the House Street Disposal Area.

Site Update

In 2018, EPA issued a Unilateral Order for Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (Wolverine) to take certain actions including the collection over 2,000 samples from the former tannery and the House Street Disposal Areas. Based on what was found, EPA has determined that action needs to be taken at both properties in both the near and long term. The following work Wolverine will need to complete soon, or under a “Time-Critical” cleanup action:

  • Locate and remove contaminated soil from two areas of the former tannery and five areas from the House Street Disposal area.
  • Locate and remove contaminated surface soil (0-3 feet below ground) near the former tannery and adjacent to the paved trail and the Rogue River.
  • Remove contaminated sediment in areas near the shore of the Rogue River.
  • Provide signage along the White Pine Trail and river access points providing users safety and contact information.
  • Install fence around the House Street Disposal area where contamination had been identified to prevent trespassing and direct contact.
  • Conduct additional investigations at the property west of the House Street Disposal Area and adjacent wetland.

EPA and EGLE are in the process of discussing longer term cleanups that may be required in addition to the above actions.

Community Engagement

EPA is assisting the community in establishing a Superfund Community Advisory Group, or CAG. Members have been selected and the group is currently working out organizational matters like charters, ground rules and meeting schedules. Once determined, CAG meetings will be held and open to the public. Check back for future meeting information.

EPA is currently working on a draft of a communication document called a Community Involvement Plan (14 pp, 1.28 MB, About PDF). This document, drafted from information gathered during community interviews conducted last fall, will document EPA’s communication goals for the site as well as the methods used to reach them. A draft document is expected to be shared for public input this summer.

EPA and EGLE held a public meeting on March 26, 2019 to update the community on the Wolverine World Wide investigation. To view recorded meeting, visit EGLE’s link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrMC8W0Pgbw&feature=youtu.be

For more information:

Concerned residents can contact the State of Michigan Environmental Assistance Center at 800-662-9278 or deq-assist@michigan.gov.

  • For questions about exposure to PFAS in drinking water, please contact the MDHHS Toxicology Hotline at 800-648-6942.
  • For information from the Kent County Department of Health about health effects of PFAS, please call 616-632-7100 or email KCPFAS@kentcountymi.gov.

Sampling Data

EPA PFAS Method 537 Validated Results from Wolverine, Michigan(1 pg, 37 K)

Documents