Wolverine agreed not to pollute Belmont water in 1966
Nearly two years later, on May 6, 1966, Wolverine reached an agreement with the township in court that allowed the shoe company to keep dumping tannery sludge there, so long as the waste disposal did not contaminate nearby water supplies.
Wolverine has tested more than 1,000 wells to date in a multi-dump site investigation across several Kent County townships after the PFAS plume coming from House Street was confirmed this year.
A 1964 state Water Resources Commission memo indicates Wolverine began disposing of industrial waste on House Street in 1939.
The company sued Plainfield Township in 1965 to retain access to the House Street property for dumping liquid tannery sludge into unlined pits and trenches.
The 52-year-old case is detailed in old township minutes and summarized in Varnum’s civil complaints filed against Wolverine in Kent County Circuit Court this past week.
According to paragraph 11 of the 1966 settlement, Wolverine "shall see that water supplies and/or lakes or other waters not owned by the company will not be contaminated by any use made of said dump."
The board inspected the two dumps on June 26 and, at their next regular meeting, passed a motion to prohibit Wolverine from dumping on House Street after 90 days.
The board was told sludge was "soaking into the ground at once."
Plainfield Township agreed to allow the dumping as a non-conforming land use if Wolverine got a state license, covered the sludge every day and took steps to reduce the property’s impact on neighbors.
Wolverine acquired a landfill license under Public Act 87 on June 16, 1966, which Varnum says made the dumping on House Street illegal for at least one year because the law took effect on June 28, 1965.