EPA to Inform Public on Rogue River Rum Creek Wolverine Worldwide Site Assessment

EPA Announces Public Meeting

to discuss the

Wolverine Worldwide Site Assessment

Rockford, Michigan

Meeting: April 24 – 7 p.m.


Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, April 24 to discuss the results of a joint-study conducted on the former Wolverine Worldwide (WWW) tannery located in downtown Rockford, MI.  The meeting will be held at the Rockford Freshman Center cafeteria, 4500 Kroes Street, Rockford, MI, April 24 from 7-9 p.m. The tannery was demolished in 2010 and the site is adjacent to the Rogue River and Rum Creek, which empty into the Grand River.

The EPA and MDEQ received a petition from a local citizen group to investigate the site as a result of community concerns regarding potential environmental impacts to the Rogue River and Rum Creek.

During the meeting EPA and MDEQ will discuss the purpose of the assessment, the roles of both the state and federal agencies and what the results of the assessment will determine and how the results will be used.   EPA and MDEQ will give presentations on their activities to date. There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion during the meeting.

The basis of WMEAC’s support for the EPA meeting and regulatory attention at the tannery site is as follows:

•    Recreation and Public Health – The WWW former Rockford tannery site is adjacent to the busy White Pine Bike Trail which borders the Rogue River.
•    Third Party Analysis – Westshore Consulting was engaged by a local citizens group to analyze samples collected from the site; these tests indicated potential problems and a need for further sampling.
•    EPA Monitoring – The EPA has now conducted additional, split‐sample site tests and will inform the public on methodology and results.
•    Citizen Reports – Reports indicate that the site demolition may have had inadequate environmental controls. For example, it is unknown whether or not stained concrete (blue, green, yellow and red stains) from buildings integral to the tannery processes where tested during demolition or disposed of in appropriate landfill sites.
•    Qualitative Reports – Former WWW employees indicated sloppy practices that may have exposed both site and ground water to tannery chemicals.
•    Historic Data from the WWW Site and National Trends – A significant number of tannery sites across the U.S. and in other countries are contaminated. Additionally, a 1994 environmental site assessment of the Rockford Tannery found several problems including improper storage practices, stained soil, and elevated levels of lead.

“We’re encouraging the public to attend.  The EPA is taking this seriously, and so should the community.  Attending this meeting is the best way to quickly be informed on the issue.”  Said Nicholas Occhipinti, WMEAC Policy and Community Activism Director.

(For additional meeting information contact Dave Novak, EPA community involvement coordinator, 800-621-8431, Ext. 67478, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., weekdays, or novak.dave@epa.gov.)

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