35 Dump Sites Confirmed in Wolverine Worldwide Groundwater Contamination
Water is one of our most precious natural resources, and nowhere is that sentiment felt more than in Michigan. For years, the bodies of water that make up the Great Lakes have been a point of local pride, drawing thousands of tourists to the state each year. But as of late, the water in and around Michigan has become a source of fear and despair.
Even now, while Flint residents are still struggling for clean drinking water, state officials have confirmed nearly three dozen possible dump sites containing toxic chemicals located in Michigan’s northern Kent County that have been linked to shoemaker Wolverine Worldwide.
The story gained media attention earlier this fall, revealing that Wolverine Worldwide had allegedly dumped barrels of toxic chemicals used to waterproof shoes during the 1960s and 1970s. After the story went public, the number of potential dump sites kept growing. One resident of Plainfield Township even found exposed barrels and leather scraps in a ravine behind his home, only 20 yards from his well. As of this writing, the number of sites has climbed to 35.
The chemicals Wolverine Worldwide is accused of dumping contain Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), a toxic chemical that was once used in Scotchgard. Even though an earlier form of the chemical was banned in the early 2000s, sites where it was dumped have had decades to slowly leech into the groundwater.
Even more troubling are the potential health risks associated with PFAS. Studies link the chemical to higher rates of kidney and testicular cancer, suppressed immune systems, weakened antibody responses to vaccinations in children, thyroid problems, fibromyalgia, higher cholesterol levels, and other health issues. Health officials are unsure how long someone needs to be exposed to contaminated water before showing adverse health effects, but the EPA has set the safe drinking limit on the chemical at 70 parts per trillion (PPT). To put the potential risk to local residents into perspective, one well on the 1800 block of House Street tested at 37,800 parts-per-trillion; 540 times above the EPA limit.
As residents await further testing and announcements, they are left with more questions than answers. “How was this allowed to happen?” “What damage will this cause in the future?” And, possibly worst of all, “what damage has it already done?”
Wexler Wallace is currently investigating claims regarding the contaminated groundwater sites. If you are a resident of the affected area and have suffered injury or property damage due to PFAS exposure, contact us to discuss your potential claim.