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Dingell Urges Stronger PFAS Cleanup Plan At Former Wolverine World Wide Rockford Tannery

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-06) today wrote a letter to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, urging the department to reject the PFAS remediation plan proposed by the former Wolverine World Wide tannery site in Rockford, and instead work on a stronger, more comprehensive cleanup plan. 

“As the lead author of the PFAS Action Act and one of the most active members in the U.S. House of Representatives to address the PFAS crisis nationwide, I urge the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to reject current remediation plan proposed by Wolverine World Wide, Inc. and work to ensure that the company submits, as well as ultimately completes, the strongest plan possible to protect our water and the health of every Michigander,” Dingell wrote. “Too many communities across Michigan have been forced to live with the health and economic consequences of corporations failing to uphold their responsibility to safely dispose of toxic waste and dangerous chemicals. Throughout Southeast Michigan, I must regularly work with federal, state, and local officials to address chemical leaks and spills in the Huron and Detroit Rivers, and we cannot continue to repeat the same mistakes with insufficient remediation plans.”

“Wolverine World Wide, Inc.’s former tannery site in Rockford and the surrounding waste disposal areas have contaminated drinking water sources and greatly impacted local residents, causing serious health complications,” Dingell continued. “Given the extensive body of scientific evidence that even small amounts of PFAS chemicals cause cancer, birth defects, and many other negative effects, it is critical that remediation efforts reduce the amount of contamination as much as possible and for clean-up plans to include robust monitoring to measure progress toward that goal. The lack of sufficient testing and monitoring in the Wolverine World Wide, Inc. plan is one of the top concerns voiced by impacted community members and independent experts and should be addressed in a final plan.”

“Thank you in advance for Michigan’s actions and leadership to address forever chemicals. We share a collective responsibility to protect our environment and public health,” Dingell concluded. “Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we ensure the clean-up of contaminated sites across Michigan—like the former Wolverine World Wide, Inc. tannery site in Rockford—by the parties responsible for the pollution are carried out swiftly and comprehensively in order to prevent further exposure and mitigate the existing health risks. But it is also important to do so to hold polluters accountable.”

View the full text of the letter here.

Dingell has long led the fight against PFAS, introducing the Keep Food Containers Safe from PFAS Act, No PFAS in Cosmetics Act, and Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act, in addition to the PFAS Action Act. In August 2022, after a four-year effort led by Rep. Debbie Dingell, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will designate two of the most widely used PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as “Superfund.”

PFAS chemicals are man-made chemicals that have so far been found in the drinking water of more than 2,000 communities. PFAS chemicals are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic—and can be found in some level in nearly everyone’s bodies today. These chemicals have been linked to harmful human health effects, including cancer, reproductive and developmental harms, and weaken immune systems.

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