Wolverine Agrees to Pay Nearly $70M to Fix Water Contamination Issues in Michigan

Wolverine World Wide Inc. is making progress in addressing water contamination issues stemming from previous waste management practices at several of its Michigan facilities.

In tandem with what the company has described as ongoing environmental remediation efforts, the Rockford, Mich.-based shoe manufacturer said today that it has made a tentative agreement to provide $69.5 million toward the extension of municipal water to more than 1,000 properties in Plainfield and Algoma Townships in Michigan.

Over the past two years, Wolverine Worldwide — the parent of Sperry, Saucony, Merrell and other shoe brands — has faced more than 90 lawsuits related to its prior waste management practices and use of 3M’s former Scotchgard ingredients that some claimed are harmful and contaminated drinking water and damaged properties in parts of Michigan.

The company said today that when it learned Scotchgard PFAS chemicals were discovered in area groundwater in 2017 it “acted quickly and voluntarily” to ensure “all affected residents had access to safe and reliable drinking water.” (It also filed suit last year against chemical manufacturer 3M, alleging the latter concealed information about the potential environmental risks of chemicals in Scotchgard and other products.)

Wolverine said it also” worked closely” with regulators to conduct environmental investigations at its House Street and former Tannery properties — “including drilling dozens of monitoring wells and collecting hundreds of soil, groundwater, sediment, and surface water samples.”

“Wolverine Worldwide has been part of this community for almost 140 years, and we are committed to being part of water quality solutions for our friends, families, and neighbors in the years to come,” said Blake Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide president, chairman and CEO. “That’s why we took fast, proactive steps from the very beginning, and that’s also why we are taking the additional steps being announced today.”

Wolverine’s $69.5 million financial contribution will also be used to help fund Plainfield Township’s planned construction of a permanent PFAS filtration system and a new municipal well field. Plainfield Township will manage the construction of the municipal water extension, which is expected to begin in 2020. The project will take at least five years to complete.

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