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MDEQ files lawsuit against Wolverine Worldwide, wants long-term solutions

Judge's gavel with books on a desk

The state has filed a lawsuit against the shoe company believed to have caused ongoing groundwater contamination in Kent County.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality wants Wolverine Worldwide to come up with a timeline for the remediation.

The MDEQ also wants the company to provide long-term solutions for the residents affected.

Heidi Grether, director of the MDEQ, says she wants to make sure that all responsible parties are held accountable.

“This action will be helpful in providing a clearly defined path forward to implement permanent solutions for the community,” Grether said in a statement released today.

Some residents in the area are getting their blood tests back and aren’t exactly sure what to do next.

Tobyn McNaughton is a Rockford mom who had her one-and-a-half-year-old son Jack’s blood tested late last year.

His results came back more than 100 times the national average for two of the compounds.

“Then I looked at [the results] and said, 'In his tiny body?' and I just broke down. I just hugged my husband and cried,” McNaughton said.

State and county health officials say it's not clear what high levels of the contaminants mean for people's health, let alone a young child’s health.

The McNaughtons are going to see a pediatric toxicologist next week to find out more about their son’s blood test.

“I’m just worried for his future and what that means for him, an otherwise seemingly healthy toddler,” she said.

Wolverine World Wide released a statementtoday saying it has cooperated with the state's investigation and will continue to do so.

“Wolverine Worldwide today expressed its continued commitment to working with the MDEQ and the EPA in anticipation of actions by both agencies to formalize processes for sampling, testing and immediate water solutions,” the statement reads.

For more information on how the MDEQ is handling the groundwater contamination, visit their website

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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