Read the full article by Garret Ellison (MLive)
“WALKERVILLE, MI — The bucolic farmland along the Newaygo and Oceana county border seems far removed from the perils of industrial pollution.
Yet, that is exactly what the state is investigating this year at two properties where crops and livestock were farmed on land tainted by manufacturing waste once used as fertilizer.
The former Valley View Pork farms near Walkerville are at the center of a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) investigation into PFAS groundwater and soil contamination after leather tannery sludge waste was spread on fields there starting in the mid-1990s.
This spring, the state began sampling nearby residential drinking water wells after testing found the toxic compounds PFOA at 1,800 parts-per-trillion (ppt) in shallow groundwater test wells and PFOS at 240,000-ppt in surface soil.
The PFOA concentrations in a potable farm well reached 740-ppt, according to EGLE’s data.
Authorities are planning a townhall meeting this summer. But it’s the potential spread of contaminants beyond the local area that most concerns environmental activists, who worry that hogs raised in concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) style may have been, inadvertently, putting contaminants into the general national food supply.
‘This is a place where our lax chemical regulations combined with the fact that we lack good polluter pay laws to hold industry accountable, coupled with the fact that we don’t have enough oversight and testing of agriculture products is coming to a focal point,’ said Christy McGillivray, legislative director for the Michigan Sierra Club chapter.
‘It points to a much bigger problem.’
Sludge leaves its mark on a hog farm
In 1996, Allendale farmer Russ Wolcott and his son, Fred, launched an extension of their business and began raising hogs along the Oceana and Newaygo county border.
In Walkerville, Valley View raised pigs on contract and sold them around the country. The farm started with about 1,200 sows. By 2012, it was housing 10,000 pigs in multiple barns.
Success of the farm helped grow the stature of Fred Wolcott, who became president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association and was appointed to the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development by former Gov. Rick Snyder.”…