Read full article by Garret Ellison (MLive)

“GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Wolverine World Wide will enter ‘structured, confidential’ mediation under proposed settlement discussions with the state of Michigan and two Kent County townships, which want the shoemaker to pay for extending municipal water to areas where its tannery waste has contaminated the groundwater.

This week, the parties agreed to mediation in federal court following months of argument about whether whole house filters that Wolverine installed in 2017 to remove PFAS contamination from potable groundwater are an adequate long-term solution for the area.

Wolverine claims the filters work fine and it can maintain them on hundreds of homes in perpetuity. The state, and Plainfield and Algoma townships, disagree.

Wolverine spent much of 2018 in similar negotiations with the state and local governments before deciding it wouldn’t pay to extend water mains unless 3M — which made the PFAS that Wolverine used, and which the company is now suing — also agreed to help…

The state and townships are asking for a trial before March to resolve questions about Wolverine’s liability for contamination from its old Rockford tannery and waste dump on House Street in Belmont, and decide on a permanent safe water solution, or ‘remedy,’ for the area…

In the joint filing, 3M agreed to participate in the mediation although it’s not formally a party to the case pending before Judge Neff.

In a separate filing, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office stressed the need for a trial date as backdrop to settlement talks and noted that retesting of certain homes near House Street have seen substantial increases in drinking water contamination.

One home near the dump tested at 96,000 ppt for the individual compounds PFOA and PFOS in May.

About 83,000 cubic yards of tannery waste remain at the House Street dump, according to the filing. The waste is almost 20-feet deep in a ravine on the south-central part of the property. PFAS concentrations in the waste reach 220 million parts-per-trillion (ppt).

Wolverine dumped PFAS-laden sludge from its former Rockford tannery into unlined trenches and lagoons on House Street in the 1960s.

The contamination was discovered in spring 2017.”