Wolverine Worldwide PFAS Settlement
Board of Trustees Adopts New Groundwater Ordinance
As a requirement of the Wolverine Worldwide settlement, the Plainfield Township Board of Trustees adopted a new groundwater use ordinance that goes into effect July 3, 2020.
The new ordinance gives the Township the authority to mandate that municipal drinking water connections are put in place for affected residents in Plainfield Township, as required by the settlement over PFAS contamination. Restrictions will safeguard against the further spread of the contamination by strictly regulating new and existing wells in the affected areas.
Board members conducted an initial review of the ordinance in the spring of 2020. During both readings, Township attorney Doug Van Essen provided an overview of the ordinance and answered questions from the board and public. An appeals process is included in the ordinance to allow residents who do not agree with the decision of the Plainfield Public Services director to appeal to the Township Board.
A nearly identical ordinance has also been adopted by Algoma Township to regulate contaminated areas in that region. Plainfield Township provides municipal water to some Algoma residents.
A letter will be sent to all affected property owners informing them of this ordinance. To read the new ordinance, click here.
WATER MAIN CONSTRUCTION UPDATES AVAILABLE ONLINE
The Township’s Engineering firm of Prein & Newhof will provide regular construction updates on dedicated webpages for each project. Information on these pages will include answers to frequently asked questions specific to each project, contact information for relevant project personnel, safety information regarding the governor’s executive order and what to expect before and during construction.
To view these updates, click the Construction Updates link on the blue sidebar.
TOWNSHIP MOVES QUICKLY ON WATER MAIN EXTENSIONS
Within 24 hours of the Wolverine Worldwide settlement being finalized, the Township and engineering firm Prein & Newhof advertised bids for the first set of contracts to extend Plainfield Township’s municipal water to the Wellington Ridge subdivision in Algoma Township as well as the House Street, Herrington Avenue and Chandler Drive areas in Plainfield Township.
The Township advertises the projects to allow contractors time to submit their bids for the engineered design plans and specifications. At the bid opening time and date specified for each contract, the Township will publicly open and announce the bids. Once they are reviewed for accuracy, a recommendation is made to the Township Board to award the contract.
Bids for the Wellington Ridge project are due to the Township by 10 a.m. on March 12. Bids for the Herrington and Chandler contract east of US 131 are due to the Township by 10 a.m. on March 19, while the deadline for the House and Herrington contract has not been set.
It is anticipated that contractor recommendations for the first two projects will be presented to the Township Board for approval at its regular meeting on March 23. Once selected, contractors will begin preparing bonds and insurance documents, ordering materials, finalizing sub-contractors, holding a pre-construction meeting and be ready to start construction as soon as possible in the spring.
Once contractors submit a detailed schedule, a letter will be mailed to those impacted by the construction informing them of the anticipated schedule and detailed instructions for the work on each private property to make the final connections.
JUDGE APPROVES CONSENT DECREE TO FINALIZE WOLVERINE WORLDWIDE SETTLEMENT
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff approved the consent decree on Feb. 19 that finalizes the settlement between the state of Michigan and Plainfield and Algoma townships with Wolverine Worldwide over PFAS contamination.
“We are very pleased that Judge Neff has signed off on the consent decree,” said Plainfield Township Superintendent Cameron VanWyngarden. “Now we can begin the work of extending municipal water to residents in need in Plainfield and Algoma townships.”
The Township will work to secure bids to connect municipal water to the first round of homes on House Street, Herrington Avenue and Chandler Drive in Plainfield Township and the Wellington Ridge subdivision in Algoma Township. Nearly 1,000 homes are slated to be connected to Plainfield municipal water.
WATCH: WOLVERINE WORLDWIDE SETTLEMENT PUBLIC FORUM
State of Michigan Releases Proposed Consent Decree
On Feb. 3, 2020, the State of Michigan has released documents of the proposed Consent Decree as Plainfield and Algoma townships prepare to finalize a settlement in its litigation against Wolverine Worldwide over PFAS contamination.
The final binding agreement requires approval by U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff.
To read the proposed settlement documents, click here.
Plainfield and Algoma Townships, State of Michigan
Reach Tentative $69.5 Million Settlement Agreement
with WWW in Federal PFAS Lawsuit
On December 10, 2019, Plainfield and Algoma townships announced a tentative $69.5 million settlement in the ongoing litigation brought by the state of Michigan against Wolverine Worldwide over its contamination of groundwater with the chemical family known as “PFAS.”
The tentative agreement ensures the Rockford shoemaker will pay $69.5 million toward the extension of Plainfield Township’s municipal water system, enabling it to reach approximately 1,000 homes in Plainfield and Algoma townships as well as some funding for granular activated carbon, or GAC, filtering system for the plant.
Wolverine will pay all hookup and connection fees for homeowners whose private drinking wells are in the areas to be served by the new municipal lines. For certain homeowners not receiving municipal water, Wolverine will continue maintaining the water filters it has installed where the level of PFOA and PFOS is over 10 parts per trillion, or ppt.
The townships expect work will begin in spring 2020 and take at least five years to extend municipal water to all affected homeowners. Neighborhoods with the highest levels of contamination will be prioritized first, but some homes with little to no contamination may be connected before others based on the most efficient construction of the new water mains.
For a map of properties in the settlement agreement, along with answers to frequently asked questions, use the links on the left side of this webpage.
Additional details of the settlement, including remediation plans for Wolverine’s former tannery site, can be found on We Are Wolverine, https://wearewolverine.com/.
In a joint statement, Plainfield Township Manager Cameron Van Wyngarden and Algoma Township Supervisor Kevin Green shared: “All parties have been working on this complicated settlement for a long time, and we appreciate the patience of residents who have been waiting more than two years for a resolution.
“Plainfield has already invested in developing plans for water main extensions and, assuming the settlement is finalized, will be ready to bid the projects after the first of the year so we can begin construction in 2020. We will be addressing priority areas first for those who have been most impacted in both townships.
“We also appreciate being able to reach a solution without having to go to trial, which will save taxpayers the time, and the uncertainties and expense of litigation.”
All parties have signed a term sheet that provides for an agreement in principle. It is still contingent on final preparation and approval of a detailed settlement agreement and the approval and signature of Judge Janet T. Neff of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Michigan. This finalization is expected in the next several weeks at which time all settlement terms will become final and public.
Over the past two years, Plainfield Township invested more than $500,000 to proactively work with the engineering firm Prein & Newhof in order to develop a detailed plan to extend municipal water. This foresight and planning enable the Township to send out construction bids for the initial projects in the first quarter of 2020 and begin work in the spring of that same year.
Once finalized, the settlement ends the legal dispute between all parties. Plainfield and Algoma townships entered the federal lawsuit in March 2018. Concerns with PFAS first surfaced broadly in August 2017 as citizens began identifying sites in Plainfield and Algoma townships where Wolverine’s tannery waste may have been deposited. “PFAS” refers to a family of long-lasting chemicals used by Wolverine to waterproof its boots and shoes that have been linked to certain types of cancers and other health issues.
Wolverine voluntarily supplied more than 500 whole-house filters and more than 200 point-of-use filters to residents with high concentrations of PFAS in their well water. The settlement agreement assures Wolverine will continue to maintain these whole house filters until homeowners with property in the settlement area can be connected to municipal water.