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Plainfield and Algoma Townships join state's lawsuit against Wolverine Worldwide

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Melissa Benmark
Michigan Radio
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Two townships have joined the state’s lawsuit against a west Michigan shoe manufacturer.

Plainfield and Algoma townships are both being affected by ongoing groundwater contamination caused by chemicals Wolverine Worldwide once used at its tannery in Rockford.

Cameron Van Wyngarden, the Plainfield Township manager, says joining the lawsuit wasn’t his first choice.

“It would have been much better if we could have negotiated an agreement outside of litigation with Wolverine. However, since we were not making progress there, we felt that this was our last recourse,” Van Wyngarden said.

Plainfield and Algoma townships want the same thing: A permanent solution for residents to get clean water. But Van Wyngarden says that can be very expensive.

“At this point, we’ve started engineering projects that would be in excess of $20 million. There’s potential for that number to go even higher,” he said.

Both townships also want Wolverine Worldwide to foot the bill for that solution – so residents don’t have to.

Kelly Sheeran, deputy supervisor of Algoma Township, says township officials and residents both wanted something to be done about the water.

“We’re advocates for our residents, and we want a permanent fix for the contamination. In our opinion, a whole-house filter isn’t a permanent fix,” Sheeran said.

Wolverine Worldwide is still paying for bottled water and whole home filters for homes in the area that test high for toxic chemicals known as PFAS.

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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