Wolverine World Wide to Give Presentation to CAG Members on Thursday, 1/28/21

Wolverine World Wide will be making a presentation to the CAG on Thursday from 7:00-8:00 p.m., concerning the House Street Feasibility Study (FS). The FS document is required to be submitted to EGLE by February 19, 2021. Updates will be provided on the remediation alternatives proposed for the House Street Site. The link for the Zoom presentation is below:

Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Link: https://wwwinc.zoom.us/j/99669782148

Meeting ID: 996 6978 2148

Phone: 877-369-0926 (toll free)

Reflection and Reassurance

Wolverine CAG Member Blog Post

The opinions expressed in the following blog post belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Wolverine Community Advisory Group.

by Carol Butts

I want to send my prayers out to everyone that they stay safe and healthy. One of the toughest things in 2020 is dealing with a pandemic while also trying to weather the waters of the long term PFAS health and environmental crisis. Being a part of the community action group (CAG) is a nice way to promote environmentally friendly goals to rejuvenate development for healthier living. Like many others, I have had to refocus and contend with immediate issues hitting us all, everywhere imaginable.  Both PFAS and the COVID-19 virus pandemic affect each of us differently in many ways and unpredictably. Current attentions must turn to meet immediate needs as we face serious threats to our children’s futures, their education, their livelihoods, our work lives, financial stability, personal health, and family health. For many, loss of social structures that normally bring a sense of security, strength, and community are vastly interrupted. What is comforting to know is that together we will weather this storm and once this short-term fight is over, we will still be here, as a PFAS CAG, with the common goal to support our community welfare for this and future generations.

All the best,

Carol Butts, MPH

MiPEHS, a Study of PFAS Effects on Health, Gets Underway

Wolverine CAG Member Blog Post

The opinions expressed in the following blog post belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Wolverine Community Advisory Group.

by Tammy Bergstrom

The Wolverine Community Advisory Group (CAG) continues to meet monthly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Meetings (via Zoom) are open to the public and include updates on various activities stemming from the PFAS contamination in Rockford and Belmont.

At a recent meeting, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services toxicologist Joost van ‘t Erve provided an overview of the upcoming Michigan PFAS Exposure and Health Study (MiPEHS), which is now underway.

“The study is designed to look at health effects related to PFAS and includes testing to see if there’s a relationship between blood levels of PFAS and certain diseases,” said van ‘t Erve.

The study will be ongoing through 2026. Participants will complete an online health survey and provide blood samples three times over the course of the study. Van ‘t Erve noted that the study is voluntary and participants can join at any time throughout the study.

Van ‘t Erve stated that  roughly 1,800 households from the northern Kent County area, whose water was previously sampled by or at the direction of a state agency, will be directly contacted to participate; letters are now being mailed to eligible households. The research team will continue to recruit participants until the optimal number of people is reached.

In order to be eligible for the study, residents must have had their wells previously tested by a state agency for PFAS and have used that water within the last 15 years. Their well is not required to have contained a detectable level of PFAS in order for the resident to be eligible for the study, but rather, their well just needs to have been tested for PFAS prior.

“You need to have lived there and used the water after 2005,” van ‘t Erve explained.

MiPEHS will also include residents in the Parchment and Cooper Township area in southwest Michigan. Although residents of the City of Rockford, and other areas with municipal water, are not eligible to be part of MiPEHS, van ‘t Erve noted the possibility of a future study of newborn blood spots from people born since 1987. These samples would be related to the level of PFAS in the mother’s blood at the time of birth. MiPEHS is laying the groundwork research for using these sample in the future to address public health questions. Study participants will be asked to provide access to their newborn bloodspot as part of enrolling in MiPEHS.

More information about the Wolverine CAG including upcoming meetings can be found at https://wolverinecag.org/ and blog posts from other members can be found here.

More information about the Michigan PFAS Exposure and Health Study (MiPEHS) can be found at the new website launched by the MDHHS.

Summer of 2020

Wolverine CAG Member Blog Post

The opinions expressed in the following blog post belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Wolverine Community Advisory Group.

Tree removal and water line installation along Chandler Drive
Water line connection to our home

by Jennifer Carney

2020. The year that has brought a lot of unexpected and unpleasant things for most of us. For me, one of those things was being connected to our local municipal water source. When we bought our home in Belmont 10 years ago, one of the main selling points for us was the fact that we would have all-natural, no cost, well water. The home we moved from was in downtown Rockford. We had just had an increase on our city water bill due to the Wolverine World Wide Tannery being removed. The explanation we received went something like, ”We are raising the cost of water service for residents to make up for the loss in contribution from the tannery.” I didn’t know how water systems worked. All I knew was that my water bill grew a great deal.

After being in my Belmont home for 7 years, I was told by a law firm that there was a highly contaminated dump site located near my home and my well water was likely contaminated. I’d seen the Erin Brockovich movie, and that was the extent of my understanding of water contamination. Never did I imagine something like that would happen here, or to me. Getting our water test results was bittersweet news. On one hand, I was obviously devastated that my contamination was high, and on the other hand I now knew the reason for all my unexplained health issues; Drinking poison affects everyone differently, but the consensus is it doesn’t do a body good.

After years of legal battling back and forth, Wolverine World Wide is liable to fund the connection of municipal water to homes they’ve negatively impacted due to their past actions. Construction for my street started in April of 2020. Like many, I was assigned to work from home due to COVID-19. What timing. I was able to witness the progress of tree and road removal, limited (or no) access in and out of my driveway, ditch digging, utility outages (many utility outages), water line laying, missed deliveries and trash pickups, dangerous surprises while driving down the road, holes in my yard, well removal, spotty road repaving, etc.

While it’s great that I now don’t have to worry about my well going out (because I wouldn’t be allowed to get a new one), and there will be no more testing and filter issues, I’ll now unfortunately have a water bill again and a bill for continued bottled water service. You may wonder why we would continue with bottled water since we have municipal water now.  Well, it’s hard to know exactly how you’d handle a situation until you’re in it. For us, it was being so blindsided by this entire situation at the hands of those previously in charge at DEQ, those at Wolverine World Wide and those at Plainfield Township who were aware of the toxic site. Yet they allowed me, my family, friends, and neighbors to ingest these chemicals; I simply don’t have much trust left.

I’ve learned so much the past 3 ½ years, a lot of which I honestly wish I was still naïve to. Learning about regulatory and legislative processes took a toll on me. I feel that business is not more important than public health, However business seems to rule, and our health ends up paying the price. We need to do better. There can be a balance. There is no reason that a business should cause their community and consumers pain and change their lives forever.

I urge everyone to take it upon themselves to learn what they can about the environment around them and speak up to make change to better our community. There is no doubt there are many areas in the country in the same situation that we are, and unfortunately, most are not yet realized. I will never forget sitting in a Senate hearing and listening to the Kentucky senator, after hearing about Michigan, say, “I’m glad we don’t have a PFAS issue in Kentucky”. That sticks with me because Kentucky wasn’t testing for PFAS. No testing would obviously lead to no problem detected. Again, we can do better.

I’m glad to finish this chapter; however, this isn’t the end of the story.

PFAS Cleanup Criteria Development Information Sessions

Session I: Monday 11/2/2020 3pm – 4pm

https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3093176208320619023

Session II: Monday 11/16/2020 1pm – 2pm

https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5971861477071630093

This informational meeting, hosted by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), is a follow-up to the first meeting on 11/2/2020 in which the process and rules for establishing cleanup criteria were discussed. In accordance with the state drinking water standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that became effective 8/3/2020, this second part of two sessions will present the results of the first part of the process. Attendees will see the calculations for generic cleanup criteria for groundwater that is used as drinking water.

Wolverine Response Activity Plans – Public Comment Period

On Tuesday, August 18th, EGLE will be holding a public meeting to discuss the Wolverine Groundwater Investigation Response Activity Plans for Areas 5, 6, 11 & 12, and 19. The .PDF below outlines the meeting, public comment period, and how to participate in them.

The details as to how to access the meeting can be found at www.Michigan.gov/belmont, alongside an overview of Michigan’s PFAS response.

If you wish to skip straight to registering for the meeting, click here.