Neighbors near Michigan tannery dump site threaten lawsuit

Neighbors near Michigan tannery dump site threaten lawsuit

Wolverine World Wide’s tannery waste reportedly contains cancer-causing chemicals.

October 16, 2017
Waste Today Staff

Neighbors of a Wolverine World Wide tannery waste dump in Belmont, Michigan, are reportedly threatening a lawsuit against the Rockford, Michigan-based footwear company so that it will clean up a toxic landfill that is part of a growing groundwater contamination investigation, according to a report on

A notice of intent to sue was mailed to Wolverine and its lawyers on Oct. 13. Copies were sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the Varnum Law firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says the article.

The 40 residents living near the 76-acre site at 1855 House Street NE in Belmont reportedly want the company to remove all of the contaminated soil property, build a hazardous waste liner, put the soil back, cap the land and encircle the property with a slurry wall to prevent further spread of polluted water, the article states. They also want Wolverine to cover the cost of blood tests and some medical care for people who have drank contaminated water, pay for municipal water extension to properties with polluted wells and expand home water filtration to a wider area.

The 14-page notice alleges Wolverine "turned a blind eye" to the House Street dump and ignored early warnings the property was spreading pollution, the article states. Wolverine reportedly tested homes east of the dump site earlier in the year, but did so on the east side of the dump which is reportedly less contaminated that the south side. The notice accuses Wolverine of knowing that its use of Scotchgard at the Rockford tannery could pose environmental problems.

Scotchgard was made by 3M and contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) or perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), a class of chemicals which are linked to cancer, thyroid problems and other illnesses, the article states.

Wolverine says it didn't know PFAS was in Scotchgard until last year. Waste sludge from the tannery was dumped into unlined trenches and lagoons on House Street in the 1960s. Tannery sludge was also dumped at other sites around the area.

The DEQ is asking anyone with firsthand knowledge of leather scraps, hides, other tannery waste or who may have witnessed sludge dumping in the past to call 1-800-662-9278.

Wolverine reportedly committed in early October to provide whole-house filtration systems to 338 homeowners in Plainfield Township. The attorney for the residents says they also want blood samples taken to know if PFAs are in their body and at what levels.

Wolverine reportedly has not responded to any of those requests.

Plainfield Township reportedly designing a municipal water main extension that would serve House Street, Chandler Drive and other residential streets on well water near the landfill.