ALGOMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Some of the 1,700 property owners in northern Kent County who could be in line for some of the $54 million PFAS settlement from Wolverine Worldwide and 3M said they had no clue they were on the list.
“Yeah, that’s me,” Mike Elder said when Target 8 showed him his Algoma Avenue NE address on the list of properties included in settlement documents filed in U.S. District Court. “Oh, wow.”
Elder and his young family moved there in October 2017, about the time PFAS was first detected in the area.
“So right when everything was coming out,” he said.
Tests back then found nothing in his well but it hasn’t been tested since. He has no idea how much money he might be getting. That will depend on how much PFAS, a likely carcinogen and emerging contaminant, has impacted his family. Those with higher PFAS levels will get more. That will be decided later.
In the meantime, Plainfield Township soon will pipe city water his way. On Thursday, crews were installing the lines on the road in front of his home.
“Brand new everything,” said crew member Anthony Cornell.
The fire hydrants are so new that they still have tags.
“Everybody’s been really good to us,” Cornell said during a break from working on a front-end loader. “We’ve seen a lot of cookies and waves and good mornings.”
The township expects to finish extending city water to the last of about 1,000 homes in the PFAS zone by next year using money from a separate $69.5 million settlement with Wolverine and 3M. It’s a project that began in 2020.
Around the corner on 11 Mile Road NE, Richard Somsel and his family use bottled water for drinking and cooking. He had seen a story about the $54 million settlement on the news on Wednesday, but had no idea his address was on the list.
“Really?” he asked.
The federal class-action lawsuit, filed in 2017, targeted Minnesota-based 3M, the maker of Scotchgard, and Wolverine Worldwide, which used PFAS-laced Scotchgard to treat its shoes. The Rockford shoemaker dumped PFAS sludge in sites around Belmont and Rockford.
Gene Gibson and his family have drunk the water since 1976 at their home on 11 Mile. He wonders if the tainted water led to any of his health problems or if it killed his pets.
“My pets we’ve had before… they all died from cancer and stuff like that. We don’t know if that’s from it,” he said.
He doubts any amount of money will make up for the contamination.
“A lot of people have been affected by it, a lot of them worse than I am,” he said.
Not far away, David Hickox’s home on Jewell Avenue NE got hooked up to city water two weeks ago. He’s also in line for part of the settlement.
“I’m glad it’s settled, and I hope everybody’s happy,” he said. “I’ll be glad to see it all go away. I’m glad we’re hooked up to Plainfield Township water now, and it’s good water. I like it.”
The federal judge is expected to finalize the settlement at a hearing in March.