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MI AG Nessel Announces PFAS Settlement

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced the filing of a settlement document in a case against Wolverine Worldwide Inc., which was sued by the State and Plainfield and Algoma townships for contaminating residential drinking water wells and the environment with PFAS compounds.

The proposed Consent Decree puts in place remedies to be provided by Wolverine Worldwide to resolve the lawsuit filed against it in January 2018 by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (then called the Department of Environmental Quality). Plainfield and Algoma townships later joined the suit. 

Attorney General Nessel and EGLE have scheduled a public comment session to hear residents’ input on the proposal. The community forum will be held 6:30-8 p.m. Feb. 10, 2020, at Rockford High School in the Creative Teaching and Learning Center, 4100 Kroes St., Rockford, MI. A summary of the settlement will be presented, followed by an opportunity for community members to submit comments.

For the proposal to resolve the lawsuit, the Consent Decree must still be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Janet T. Neff.

The State and townships sued for relief following the discovery of PFAS contamination in northern Kent County residential drinking water wells from Wolverine’s use and disposal of PFAS-containing materials in its historic operations.

The proposed Consent Decree requires Wolverine to pay $69.5 million to extend municipal water to more than 1,000 properties. It must also continue to operate and maintain drinking water filters in the North Kent County study area where PFOA + PFOS concentrations exceed 10 ppt or other applicable criteria, and continue residential drinking water well sampling to ensure the protection of public health.

The settlement also requires Wolverine to, among other actions: conduct groundwater investigations to monitor contamination in the area; investigate and address PFAS contamination entering surface waters; and undertake response activities at the House Street Disposal Site and Wolverine’s Tannery to control these source areas. Wolverine will conduct these activities under an enforceable Consent Decree that provides EGLE the necessary tools to ensure that the required work is completed.

Anticipated new regulatory standards for PFAS compounds will apply to Wolverine.

“It is time to bring relief to the residents of North Kent County whose lives were upended by Wolverine’s PFAS contamination, and this settlement will begin that process,” Nessel said. “PFAS contamination is a serious problem, and completing this work will be a lengthy process, but EGLE and my office will be there every step of the way to ensure it gets done. This settlement further expands on the details of the December announcement, but the process will not be complete without input from residents, which is why I fought for a public comment period prior to finalizing the settlement. We must hold Wolverine accountable, but we also must hear from the people hit hardest by PFAS contamination in the affected communities.”

EGLE Director Liesl Eichler Clark said: “This settlement will bring much needed relief to the residents and environment of North Kent County. EGLE looks forward to seeing the important work outlined in this agreement completed.”

The full text of the proposed Consent Decree and attachments are available here.

In recognition of the public’s critical role in the resolution of this litigation, the Attorney General’s office and EGLE are providing a public comment period prior to finalizing the settlement terms in court, to allow the affected community an opportunity to review and comment on the proposal.   

The State will accept comments via email on the proposed Consent Decree through Feb. 13, 2020. 

The State will review the comments and prepare a responsiveness document that will be publicly available and filed with the court.