Residents of Algoma and Plainfield Townships who were anticipating immediate access to municipal water lines may be left waiting, as negotiations with Wolverine Worldwide have apparently stalled.
Officials from both townships had been negotiating with Wolverine Worldwide in talks that included a plan to pay an estimated $30 million for extensions to city water supplies. However, talks have apparently broken down.
“Just this week, [Wolverine Worldwide] told us they are basically walking away from the negotiation table,” said Algoma Township Supervisor Kevin Green in a statement to Fox 17.
Green went on to explain that officials had already granted Wolverine two extensions to allow the company to provide input and discovery materials. Representatives from both townships refused to provide a third extension in order to begin work in early 2019.
The breakdown in discussions appears to stem from a disagreement in the lack of involvement from 3M, the company who allegedly manufactured the Scotchgard at the center of the PFAS contamination. Wolverine Worldwide, who is widely believed to have dumped PFAS-laden tannery waste at numerous dump sites in the area, denied that negotiations have ended. In an official statement, the company defends its position that any agreement must involve all relevant parties:
Wolverine Worldwide remains at the table and is committed to discussing water quality solutions with Plainfield Township, Algoma Township, and the State. This is a position we have held since day one, and any suggestion that Wolverine is unwilling to negotiate, has stepped away from the table, or has recently changed its position is simply untrue.
From the beginning, we have said that multiple parties contributed to the water quality issues in our community, and any solution must include all relevant parties. We made this position clear in a Feb. 23, 2018 letter to the Township saying, “We wholeheartedly agree with the Township that many parties contributed to the water quality issues facing our community, and believe that any long-term solution must involve all those parties.”
Wolverine has been fully engaged in negotiations with the State of Michigan, Plainfield Township, Algoma Township, and other parties on a regular basis and remains committed to the process. At the same time, we remain committed to the community, and continue to provide proven, highly effective filters and drinking water while conducting groundwater sampling, analysis, and investigation to fully determine the possible sources and extent of PFOA and PFOS.
According to Plainfield Township Superintendent Cameron Van Wyngarden, taxpayers have already spent around $500,000 in preparation for construction. The original plan was to extend city water to 500 households in early 2019, but without funding from Wolverine, those plans could be delayed another year.
Both townships confirmed plans to officially file a lawsuit against Wolverine Worldwide, resuming the litigation that was suspended while officials negotiated an agreement.