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State Files Legal Action to Solidify PFAS Remediation Plans with Wolverine

Suit calls for providing long-term solutions

LANSING –The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has filed a legal suit that would order Wolverine World Wide, Inc. to provide long-term solutions for Kent County residents who have been affected by Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in areas the state believes contain Wolverine waste. The complaint was filed today in the U. S. District Court, Western District, Southern Division.

The department is taking this legal action under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and state Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA).

Under the complaint, the state requests that Wolverine institute protective measures to mitigate risks to public health, continue environmental investigations, address contamination in ground and surface water and pay for the state’s past and future costs associated with enforcement of state clean up laws.

This legal action does not stop the current investigations, testing and cleanup efforts underway in the area.

While Wolverine has been responsive to DEQ requests for resources, testing and alternative water for neighborhood contamination attributable to Wolverine thus far, this court filing is the next step in formalizing the process, timelines and expectations the state has for the company moving forward.

“The state of Michigan is committed to holding responsible parties accountable. We have filed this action today because we want to ensure that immediate and long-term solutions are confirmed by the courts,” said Heidi Grether, DEQ director. “This action will be helpful in providing a clearly defined path forward to implement permanent solutions for the community.”

The department takes this step following a recent decision to establish new environmental clean-up rules for groundwater at 70 parts per trillion, similar to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lifetime Health Advisory level.

“Our new state clean-up standard now gives us the ability to take additional legal actions such as this, which provides the state with more options to ensure long-term compliance plans are in place and enforced,” said Grether.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as PFCs, have been classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as an emerging contaminant on the national level. PFAS are a suite of chemicals historically used in thousands of applications throughout the industrial, food, and textile industries. They are stable, breaking down very slowly in the environment, and are highly soluble, easily transferring through soil to groundwater.

For more information on the State of Michigan’s PFAS response, visit