Wolverine Worldwide settles west Michigan water contamination suit
Rockford, Michigan-based outdoor apparel company Wolverine World Wide Inc. said on Thursday that a U.S. District judge approved a settlement with the State of Michigan, Plainfield Charter Township, and Algoma Township following a lawsuit concerning water quality in and around its hometown.
As part of the settlement, Wolverine Worldwide agreed to pay $69.5 million in a consent decree, which will be paid over a multi-year period towards the extension of Plainfield Township’s municipal water system to more than 1,000 properties in Algoma and Plainfield Townships.
Minnesota-based chemical manufacturer 3M, which it sued in 2018, will make a lump sum financial contribution of $55 million towards Wolverine’s efforts to address PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) remediation under the Consent Decree.
The deal also includes what is described as “comprehensive remediation plans” at the company’s former tannery and House Street sites, and investigations to further assess the presence of PFAS in area groundwater.
Still, Wolverine “continues to vigorously defend itself against litigation filed by some area residents," according to a press release issued by the company this week.
The judge noted that the order was reached in “record time” and is “in the best interests of the affected homeowners, the surrounding communities, and the state of Michigan.”
“We have been committed from the very beginning to being part of comprehensive water quality solutions for the community Wolverine has called home for nearly 140 years,” said Blake W. Krueger, chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Wolverine Worldwide.
“We are pleased the Court has approved this Consent Decree that provides a structure for our work to continue, and also pleased that 3M is contributing towards our efforts.”
Based on the final Consent Decree and 3M settlement, the company recorded net costs of $58 million in the fourth quarter fiscal 2019. This is comprised of $113 million for incremental environmental investigation and remediation costs (including the $69.5 million referenced above for municipal water), partially offset by the $55 million recovery from 3M that will be paid in a lump sum in fiscal 2020.
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