Published in Economic Development
Wolverine agrees to $69.5 million PFAS settlement with Plainfield, Algoma townships COURTESY RENDERING

Wolverine agrees to $69.5 million PFAS settlement with Plainfield, Algoma townships

BY Tuesday, December 10, 2019 05:06pm

Plainfield and Algoma townships have reached a tentative $69.5 million settlement in the case filed by the state of Michigan against Rockford-based Wolverine World Wide Inc. over PFAS contamination.

The agreement ensures that footwear and apparel marketer and retailer Wolverine (NYSE: WWW) will pay the sum toward the extension of Plainfield Township’s municipal water system, which would enable it to reach about 1,000 homes in Plainfield and Algoma townships, as well as funding for granular activated carbon filtering system for the water plant.

The townships entered the federal lawsuit in March 2018 after concerns over PFAS surfaced. Wolverine used PFAS-based chemicals to waterproof its boots and shoes. 

In a joint statement, Plainfield Township Manager Cameron Van Wyngarden and Algoma Township Supervisor Kevin Green, said: “All parties have been working on this complicated settlement for a long time, and we appreciate the patience of the residents who have been waiting more than two years for a resolution. Plainfield has already invested in developing plans for water main extensions and, assuming the settlement is finalized, will be ready to bid the projects after the first of the year so we can begin construction in 2020. We will be addressing priority areas first for those who have been most impacted in both townships.”

Wolverine will pay hookup and connection fees for homeowners that will be served by the new lines. For those not receiving municipal water, Wolverine will continue maintaining the water filters it has installed where PFAS levels are over 10 parts per trillion.

“Wolverine Worldwide has been part of this community for almost 140 years, and we are committed to being part of the water quality solution for our friends, families and neighbors in the years to come,” Blake Krueger, chairman, CEO and president of Wolverine said in a statement. “That’s why we took fast, proactive steps from the very beginning, and that’s why we are taking the additional steps announced today to fund the extension of municipal water to more than 1,000 properties and continue our environmental remediation efforts.” 

The townships expect work to begin in spring 2020 and take at least five years to complete. Neighborhoods with the highest contamination levels will be prioritized first.

The tentative settlement agreement requires approval of Judge Janet Neff of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Once finalized, the settlement ends the legal dispute between the parties.

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