There has never been a time when the Great Lake State’s water supply has been more precious, or under as much assault. Whether its invasive carp, low lake levels, or contaminated drinking water, Michigan – a peninsula with so much water surrounding us – has its share of water problems.

The latest environmental disaster occurred this summer near Grand Rapids. Dangerous Scotchgard chemicals used to waterproof shoes produced at Wolverine World Wide’s Rockford-based tannery were dumped years ago on sites in Plainfield Township. The hazardous chemicals infiltrated the groundwater over time and are now present in drinking water wells in the area. The dumping took place when liners and other protective measures were not required by law.

As of October 9, 2017, 15 properties on either side of U.S. 131, including the Michigan National Guard armory, have tested above the 70-parts per trillion (ppt) health advisory level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One well tested in August was 542 times above the EPA benchmark, and another well tested in October was more than 140 times the limit.

Residents are reporting thyroid issues, cancer, and other symptoms consistent with PFAS exposure, and are now left to wonder whether deceased loved ones perished due to exposure to the toxic chemicals.

According to officials, approximately 200 Plainfield Township homes are being tested around a “buffer zone” area around the dump site at 1855 House Street NE.

Plainfield Township Contamination

Photo Credit: Kent County Health Department

  • The testing boundary extends:
  • North to 10 Mile Road
  • East across U.S. 131 to Belmont Avenue NE.
  • South to includes an area of homes between Chandler Drive and Herrington Avenue NE situated in a glacial valley that drains into the Rogue River.
  • West of the dump site, the expanded boundary includes all homes on House Street NE, as well as property around Clear Bottom Lake, Duck Lake, and part of Freska Lake.

Those residing or owning property within this zone should be aware of the risks and follow up with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Environmental Assistance Center. 

The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Complex Litigation Group are interviewing local residents and landowners regarding their experiences. If you live or own residential property near the contaminated groundwater sites and have suffered injury or property damages due to toxic chemical exposure, please contact us today to discuss your situation.

Photo Credit: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Jason J. Thompson

View all posts by
Jason J. Thompson

Jason Thompson is a nationally board certified trial attorney and co-chairs Sommers Schwartz’s Complex Litigation Department. He has a formidable breadth of litigation experience, including class action and multidistrict litigation (MDL), and practices nationwide in both state and federal courts.