News Feature | December 7, 2017

At Town Hall On PFC Contamination, Answers Absent

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

town hall.reg

Wolverine Worldwide, a shoe manufacturer, is among the latest companies to receive scrutiny for its practice of dumping perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) into source water, thus imperiling drinking water.

In September, contamination caused by the company in Belmont, MI, was discovered, with water testing at nearly 400 times the U.S. EPA’s advisory level for two critical PFCs. In October, it was still unclear how the community or company would recover from that revelation.

And late in November, a town hall was hosted to allow local residents to publicly address the company and relevant state departments.

“The biggest things people at the meeting wanted to know were who is going to clean it up, and, more urgently, who will give them clean water in the meantime?” reported Fox 17.

Unfortunately, the meeting seemed to lead to more questions than answers.

“The Kent County Health Department began the town hall meeting by saying that they understand people are afraid because they don’t know exactly what is going on,” the report continued. “They admitted that there is a lot that they don’t know as a public department of health. They’re calling the situation an ‘emerging contaminant.’”

Wolverine Worldwide has maintained that it complied with applicable laws at the time of the dumping and that it is committed to cooperating with regulators and cleaning up the contaminants. The company claims that it is doing as much testing and clean up as it can.

“We are dedicated to doing the right thing, getting the right data, working with the right experts and finding solutions,” Chris Hufnagel of Wolverine Worldwide said, per Fox 17. “We’re not going anyplace.”

While they await more answers and the completion of cleanup efforts, residents are having to take extraordinary measures to try and protect their own health.

“As uncertainty festers, residents said they were struggling to adjust,” The New York Times reported. “People have discarded vegetables from backyard gardens. Parents have limited outdoor playtime for their children. Many residents said they fear their houses will never sell now.”

To read more about PFC issues visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: "2012-07-12 052," Liz Strauss, 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/