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East Rockford Middle School on Precautionary Bottled Water Alert During PFC Testing; No current evidence of Groundwater Contamination

ROCKFORD, MI – Beginning today, East Rockford Middle School will be provided with precautionary bottled water until the results of groundwater sampling for Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are obtained. There is currently no evidence of PFC contamination in the school’s drinking water, but as a precaution, the drinking water wells have been sampled and bottled water will be provided until test results are returned.  Testing is being done at this location because a historic disposal area containing leather scraps has been discovered nearby.

Wolverine World Wide (Wolverine), in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and the Kent County Health Department (KCHD), is providing students, faculty, and staff with bottled water until Wolverine completes groundwater sampling for PFCs and obtains the results.  Wolverine is funding the bottled water effort at this location and in the local subject area.

“While we have not confirmed any level of contamination in the school or adjacent properties, in an abundance of caution we are providing alternative drinking water, until we know what the results reveal,” said David O’Donnell, MDEQ Field Operations Manager – West.

At this time, eight properties adjacent to the subject area will also be included in the testing area as a precautionary measure. 

“Any information will be shared with residents via the Township's Facebook page, as soon as it is available,” said Cannon Township Supervisor Steve Grimm. “The Township will work with all involved to ensure the safety of its residents, the staff and students of the middle school."

The MDEQ has recently been contacted by Cannon Township land owners who reported to have evidence of historical waste disposal on their property in the vicinity of Ramsdell between 9 Mile and 10 Mile Roads.  DEQ staff inspected the property and confirmed the presence of waste material including leather scraps on the property.  Documentation provided by the owner indicates that the previous owner had allowed Wolverine to use the gravel pit as a disposal area.  Recent experience in Kent County has demonstrated that these conditions may indicate the presence of PFCs in groundwater.

Testing of this subject area is the latest in an effort by state and local agencies to investigate citizen information regarding alleged waste disposal locations.

PFCs have been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an emerging contaminant on the national landscape. PFCs are a class of man-made chemicals introduced in the 1950s to make products that resist heat, stains, grease, and water. 

For more information, residents can visit or call the DEQ Environmental Assistance Center at 1-800-662-9278.

Message from Rockford Superintendent of Schools

To East Rockford Middle School Staff and Parents:

Late Wednesday afternoon, I was notified by the DEQ, the Kent County Health Department, and Wolverine Worldwide that a disposal area containing leather and rubber scraps has been located between 9 and 10 Mile Roads, approximately ½ mile northeast of East Rockford Middle School. 

My immediate concern is the safety of students and staff at East RMS.  Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, all drinking fountains will be disabled and Wolverine will provide bottled water to the school starting Thursday morning for consumption and cooking, and will do so until we know the status of our well water.

Wolverine and the DEQ took water samples from our well yesterday, and the results are being expedited and expected to be available within two weeks.  As soon as those are provided to me, I will communicate them to you.

Please be assured that until we receive the test results, only bottled water will be used for consumption and cooking at the school.  I have been assured that this only affects the use of water for consumption and not by contact.

Again, once we receive the results about the quality of the water, I will promptly provide those to you. 

Thank you,
Michael S. Shibler
Superintendent of Schools

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