Township plans to extend water lines to areas with contaminated wells

New water lines from township

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, MICH. (WZZM) - Plans to bring public water to neighborhoods near a contaminated industrial dumpsite are moving forward even as the area being checked for groundwater contamination continues to grow. 

State officials on Wednesday said another 300 homes with residential wells near the closed dump on House Street NE in Kent County's Plainfield Township will be tested for a chemical used by Wolverine Worldwide to waterproof shoes.

That’s nearly double the number of wells the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality initially said were earmarked for testing.

The township recently approved preliminary design engineering to extend public water into the area. It includes portions of House Street, Herrington Avenue, Chandler Drive and Pine Island Drive NE.

Plainfield Township Public Services Director Rick Solle said water lines can “definitely’’ be expanded beyond what was initially proposed if more contamination is found.

“The map that we first put out showed the backbone loop, but we can extend it further if we need to,’’ he said. “Where the contamination ends up being will dictate where the water goes.’’

Plainfield Township Superintendent Cameron L. Van Wyngarden said the decision was made to extend water to the area once contamination was found at the dumpsite, which closed nearly 50 years ago.

“As soon as we were aware that there may be problems, we engaged our engineers in design work, put together estimates and quickly brought it to the township Board for approval,’’ Van Wyngarden said.

Earlier this year, a suspected carcinogen called PFOS was linked to the long-closed Wolverine dump site along House Street south of Ten Mile Road NE.  PFOS is a toxic chemical used in Scotchgard, which the company used to waterproof shoes.

In late May, the chemical was detected in groundwater at the Michigan National Guard’s Belmont Armory, located about a half-mile away.

That discovery led to additional groundwater tests at area homes. Several wells tested positive for elevated levels of PFOS; one tested more than 500 times above federal health advisory levels.

Extending public waterlines to the area will cost an estimated $4 million, Van Wyngarden said. It could cost another $4 million for individual hook-ups, depending on how many homeowners opt to participate, he said.

Township officials are meeting with Wolverine Worldwide to discuss who will pick up the tab.

“Yes, it has been in negotiations,’’ Van Wyngarden said. “Wolverine has been a very active participant in making sure these residents are taken care of.’’

Work could get underway in late winter and take all of 2018 to complete, he said.

Wolverine Worldwide released the following statement:

“Wolverine Worldwide remains focused on testing sites identified by the MDEQ so residents will have confidence in their water.  Currently, a single site is being studied and a limited number of homes have been found to be over the EPA lifetime drinking water health advisory level (from the 88 reports received to-date), and precautionary tests for the Buffer Zone and Southeast Expansion Area will allow a more complete understanding of any possible impacted drinking water.’’

The company said additional information can be found at www.wolverineworldwide.com/about-us/environment

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