Water expert calls Tannery study 'flawed'

MUSKEGON, MICH. - Richard Rediske is a scientist and professor at Grand Valley State University's Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon. He says it didn't take long for him to find 'flaws' in a study released by Wolverine World Wide on November 8th.

The company's report detailed the results of groundwater and surface water samples from five sites near Wolverine World Wide's former tannery site along the Rogue River. The report and supporting documents are around 120 pages.

"It took me about a half-hour to read the report and see the deficiencies," said Rediske. "I mean it was very apparent to me."

Reviewing studies is nothing new for Rediske in his role at the water resources institute. He's also someone who is concerned about the quality of water in the Grand River and its tributaries.

It's why he dove deep into Wolverine World Wide's report, and conclusions released to the public the following day in a press release.  

The company's press release quotes Dr. Janet Anderson, a toxicologist at Integral Consulting who said, "Recreational contact with Rum Creek or the Rogue River does not present a health risk to individuals." 

Rediske questions that conclusion. And while he can't say that conclusion is untrue, he is questioning how the company and it's toxicologist reached such a conclusion.

Rediske has concerns over the study's methodology. Specifically the sample gathering process.  

Included in the company's report Rediske found groundwater samples were taken in September, and surface water samples weeks later in October. 

"It's typical that you collect groundwater and surface water at the same time," Rediske said. "Because you want to draw conclusions between the two."

According to Rediske's review of the report surface water samples in October were gathered right after two big rain events

Three inches of rain that may have diluted the amount of PFOS in the company's surface water samples. 

Reidiske is not saying the river is unsafe. It's his opinion the company's study does not have sufficient data to make claims the river is safe for recreational use.

A summery of Rediske's concerns were included in a three page memo sent to Wolverine World Wide, the Kent County Health Department and the DEQ.

Wolverine did respond to us about Rediske's concerns in a statement:

“Wolverine sampled the Rogue River two times, once under its December 2016 work plan and then again later for additional information.  River sampling done under the work plan was performed during low flow as proposed in the work plan.  Wolverine later performed additional sampling along a longer expanse of the river, and that sampling was done during the flow conditions that existed at the time.  All the results were included in the report, and Dr. Rediske’s comment focuses solely on the additional samples that were not part of the original work plan.  We stand behind the methodology and results of the report.”

 

Redisker Comment Memo (002) by WZZM News on Scribd

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