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Judge approves PFAS settlement between state, Wolverine

Posted at 5:44 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 21:18:02-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A U.S. District Court judge has approved a settlement between Wolverine Worldwide and the State of Michigan to remediate PFAS contamination.

The $69.5 million settlement was agreed upon in December and went to the judge for approval.

“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,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “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.”

Wolverine released a statment on the judge's approval:

"Wolverine Worldwide is very pleased that Judge Neff has approved the Consent Decree we reached earlier this month with the State of Michigan, Plainfield Charter Township and Algoma Township. This Consent Decree resolves the litigation between the parties and includes significant next steps in Wolverine’s extensive efforts to ensure long-term water quality and continued environmental remediation in and around its hometown. These steps includes extending municipal water to more than 1,000 properties in Algoma and Plainfield Townships, continued maintenance of highly-effective water filters and resampling of certain residential wells for PFAS, ongoing remediation at the Company’s former tannery and House Street sites, and investigations to further assess the presence of PFAS in area groundwater.

Wolverine has been committed from the very beginning to being part of comprehensive water quality solutions for the community, and the Consent Decree provides the right framework for that to occur. We appreciate the Court’s recognition that the Consent Decree was reached in record time, provides expedient and expansive relief, and is in the best interests of affected homeowners, the surrounding communities and the state of Michigan."

A Plainfield Township newsletter from December says work is expected to start this spring and take at least five years. The homes with the highest level of contaminants will be serviced first.

Plainfield Township Manager, Cameron VanWyngarden told Fox 17 via statement, "We are very pleased that Judge Neff has signed off on the consent decree. Now we can begin the work of extending municipal water to residents in need in Plainfield and Algoma Townships."

U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff called the consent decree between Michigan and Wolverine a “model resolution of a very complex problem” in her order.

The state says the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will continue to be present and involved in the contaminated areas to ensure the problems are being addressed.