ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — Wolverine Worldwide and chemical giant 3M have reached a $55 million settlement to a federal lawsuit over PFAS contamination in drinking water in Kent County.
Wolverine sued 3M in December 2018, arguing the Minnesota-based company should also be held responsible for the PFAS, a likely carcinogen also linked to other illnesses, found in hundreds of residential wells around Rockford.
Wolverine accused 3M of neglecting to tell it about environmental risks that 3M’s product, Scotchgard, possessed. Wolverine used Scotchgard to waterproof shoes made at its Rockford tannery. Manufacturing waste dumped in Belmont has been blamed for the tainted water.
Target 8 previously reported that 3M warned Wolverine about Scotchgard 20 years ago in a letter detailing 3M’s intention to change the product’s formula.
Wolverine also accused 3M of not helping in the aftermath of discovering contamination in West Michigan.
Under the settlement, 3M will give Wolverine a lump sum of $55 million this year to help deal with PFAS in Kent County.
“This agreement will support Wolverine’s work with the State of Michigan to conduct previously announced and continuing investigation and remediation activities, which will improve water infrastructure and treatment in certain communities in western Michigan,” 3M executive John Banovetz said in a Thursday statement.
In a separate statement, Wolverine CEO Blake Krueger said the company was “pleased” that 3M would be contributing.
On Wednesday, a judge approved a $69.5 million settlement between Wolverine, Michigan and Algoma and Plainfield townships that will extend municipal water to about 1,000 homes where contamination has been found.
In all, Wolverine says it has spent an estimated $113 million — including the $69.5 million settlement — dealing with PFAS. 3M’s payment means it is essentially splitting that cost.
The state of Michigan is currently in the process of suing 3M and 16 other companies blamed for PFAS contamination across the state, saying those companies knew it was dangerous but kept making and selling it anyway.
The state of Minnesota previously sued 3M, also claiming the company purposely buried information on the risks of PFAS. That led to an $850 million settlement.