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Plainfield Township could spend up to $62 million due to PFAS

Water filter
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
Water filtration system at the Plainfield Township water treatment plant

Plainfield Township could end up paying millions of dollars more than it though due to PFAS.

Residents of Plainfield Township in Kent County, north of Grand Rapids, are dealing with PFAS pollution. State officials believe it was caused by shoe-manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide, and there is ongoing lawsuit addressing who is to blame

Township engineers estimate it could cost between $25 million and $62 million to extend municipal water to every resident living in the affected area, which includes about 500 homes.

Cameron Van Wyngarden, the Plainfield Township Superintendent, says the potentially high cost to ratepayers has kept the township from starting construction.

“This is not a cost that should be borne by those who are affected by the contamination, it should be borne by Wolverine Worldwide, and they have yet to agree to any settlement,” Van Wyngarden said.

Wolverine says it is only one responsible party in the PFAS pollution. And it will only pay once other responsible parties are held accountable.

The company released a statement saying:

Wolverine has said from the start that we intend to be part of developing water quality solutions for our community – and our actions to-date have backed up these words. Whether those solutions ultimately include the extension of municipal water to certain areas has not yet been determined, however, and will be based on facts and data that are still being gathered, as well as discussions with regulators and other involved parties. We have also consistently said that all involved parties must be involved in discussing and developing solutions. This includes 3M, which developed, tested, manufactured and sold Scotchgard™ to Wolverine and millions of others for decades.

While Van Wyngarden acknowledges that it would be much cheaper to only extend city water to homes with wells that have already tested above 70 parts per trillion, he says he would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to giving residents safe drinking water.

“So it’s our stance that anything within that area should be connected,” he said.

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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