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AG Nessel, EGLE Director Commend US District Judge Neff's Swift Approval of Wolverine Worldwide Settlement
February 19, 2020
LANSING – In response to the approval by U.S. District Court Judge Janet T. Neff of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan of the proposed settlement in the lawsuit brought by the State of Michigan and Plainfield and Algoma townships against Wolverine Worldwide Inc. for contaminating residential drinking water wells and the environment in North Kent County with PFAS compounds, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel provided the following statement:
“I am pleased that the Court acted so quickly to enter the Consent Decree – this enables a push for construction to begin this spring to bring relief to residents of North Kent County most heavily impacted by PFAS contamination from Wolverine,” said Nessel. “At the public comment session I hosted in Rockford last week, residents made clear that getting work started to address the threats posed by PFAS contamination – real, tangible action – was the top priority. This settlement does that.”
The Director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), Liesl Clark, provided the following statement:
“This settlement is an important step forward in addressing PFAS contamination. EGLE will continue to be present and involved in North Kent County to ensure that Wolverine continues to address the human and environmental impacts from its PFAS contamination in the North Kent Study Area as required by the Decree. EGLE will also continue to investigate PFAS contamination outside the North Kent Study Area and will continue to push liable parties, when they are identified, to comply with State and Federal environmental laws.”
The proposed Consent Decree requires Wolverine to pay $69.5 million to extend municipal water to approximately 1,000 homes. Wolverine 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. Anticipated new regulatory standards for PFAS compounds will apply to Wolverine.
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 EGLE oversight, and the Consent Decree includes tools that ensure that the required work is completed.
The Court’s Order approving entry of the Consent Decree called the settlement a “model resolution of a very complex problem” that was completed “by all accounts, in record time for environment litigation of this nature.” The Court’s full order is available here.
Prior to seeking entry of the proposed settlement by the Court, the Attorney General and EGLE conducted a public comment session and accepted written comments on the proposed Consent Decree. The Department of Attorney General and EGLE staff responded to the comments received in a responsiveness summary that was sent to commenters, posted publicly, and filed with the Court. “Public input on this proposed settlement was very important,” said Attorney General Nessel, “both to ensure that we are explaining the settlement completely and clearly, and to understand the ongoing concerns of the affected community.”