3M, which made the Scotchgard product Wolverine Worldwide used to waterproof its shoes, said it warned Wolverine nearly 20 years ago about the PFOS chemical that have polluted Plainfield Township wells near the shoemaker's old dumpsite.
The Minnesota-based conglomerate sent WZZM 13 a letter, which was sent to Wolverine in 1999, mentioning a meeting between the two companies regarding the PFOS chemical and its environmental effects.
3M released this statement in response to Wolverine's handling of the contamination issue:
3M bears no responsibility for the environmental practices of Wolverine,' said William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel to 3M. 'We are surprised to see that Wolverine claims it was unaware of the fact that PFOS was used at its former tannery and, apparently, that it was unaware of 3M’s voluntary decision to phase out of the chemistries in question. The record reflects otherwise.”
In the letter, 3M mentions it was considering phasing out PFOS from Scotchgard. The company announced the decision in May 2000 and completed the phaseout in 2002.
Wolverine responded to 3M, saying:
Wolverine has known and it was widely publicized that 3M’s Scotchgard contained [PFOS] and we relied on 3M’s representations to us, the EPA, and the public that it had no adverse effects on the environment or human health. We’ve never intended to infer anything to the contrary."
Wolverine is referring to part of the letter where 3M says, "the currently available evidence does not suggest any human health effect associated with the levels of PFOS found in serum samples of people with occupational exposure."
State officials say there are some links to exposure to the PFAS chemicals, under which PFOS falls, and some forms of cancer.
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