Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants

Pierson Township, Michigan

Suspected contamination source: Wolverine Wolrdwide tannery waste stored at the Central Sanitary Landfill

pierson-landfill-deq-pfas-mapjpg-3c23129894a64154
Map showing the location of PFAs testing, preliminary water well testing boundary, and general direction of groundwater flow for the Central Sanitary Landfill in Pierson Township. (Graphic: MDEQ)

“According to documents and former employees, Wolverine began sending sludge from the former Rockford tannery to the Central Sanitary Landfill in the early 1980s. Wolverine began using PFAS-laden 3M Scotchgard to treat shoe leather at the tannery in 1958.

The landfill is rubber lined, has a leachate collection system and is certified to accept industrial waste. Nonetheless, Republic Services stopped taking Wolverine dump site excavation waste last fall at Pierson and the Ottawa Farms landfill in Coopersville…

The 36-acre sanitary landfill once accepted hazardous waste from Hooker Chemical in Muskegon County. Previous groundwater contamination prompted litigation.

DEQ records show the landfill sent contaminated leachate to Rockford to wash through Wolverine’s former tannery wastewater treatment plant, which sent industrial effluent to the Grand Rapids wastewater plant prior to construction of the North Kent Sewer Authority plant.” — (Ellison, 2018)

The MDEQ called a public meeting in late April 2018 after five monitoring wells near the landfill were found to have elevated PFAS levels. Republic General Manager, Todd Harland, told concerned residents that a company representative would go door-to-door to houses and businesses within a square mile of the landfill, providing bottled water and testing their private wells.

Of the 12 wells tested, only one found no detection of PFAS. Five of the wells exceeded the EPA health advisory level and Michigan’s groundwater cleanup standard for PFOS and PFOA. The highest PFAS monitoring well detection was 1,062 ppt.


Additional Resources:

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Media Coverage:

Full citations are available on the second page of the full contamination site tracker. We ask for your additions, changes, questions and comments be sent to pfasproject@gmail.com.

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