ROCKFORD, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has given a shoe manufacturer until later this month to handle the scope of a toxic chemical plume leaking through the groundwater from the company’s landfill.

The department sent a letter to Wolverine World Wide on Friday regarding the fluorochemicals coming from the Belmont landfill. The agency is giving Wolverine until the end of January to comprehensively determine the scope of the plume. It also has set deadlines for other issues in need of resolution associated with the plume and the former Rockford tannery, where the company originally used the chemicals, the Grand Rapids Press reported .

The department is overseeing Wolverine’s investigation into groundwater contamination by perfluorinated chemicals produced by the tannery, which was demolished in 2010. The chemicals were in a substance Wolverine used to waterproof shoes.

Wolverine began sampling the tannery site and Rogue River for the chemicals in late August, but the environment department has expressed frustration at the delayed results. Backups at labs certified to test for perfluorinated chemicals have prompted the department to ask the Legislature for funds to retrofit a state lab to handle testing, said spokeswoman Melanie Brown.

The agency wants all existing data from tannery ground sampling in Rockford by Wednesday, and a site model for both fluorochemicals and ammonia contamination that includes former building footprints and piping pathways by Nov. 27.

The chemicals have shown up in private and municipal water supplies in Plainfield Township. Public health officials have found the chemicals are tied to cancer, thyroid problems and other diseases.

“The department expects that Wolverine will want to meet the deadlines,” Brown said.

Wolverine said in a statement that it has no issues with the deadlines and “has complied with every request for information.”

In the meantime, the statement added, “Wolverine continues to provide safe drinking water and … water filters to those residents … who need them.”


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, http://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids