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ROCKFORD, Mich. (AP) — Drinking water tested at a western Michigan middle school has shown no signs of hazardous chemicals from a decades-old tannery waste dump site.

Rockford Public Schools turned off drinking fountains at East Rockford Middle School two weeks ago as a precaution after leather and rubber scraps were found near the school, the Grand Rapids Press reported .

The district said the school’s drinking water shows no presence of perfluorinated chemicals from the Wolverine World Wide dump site.

Wolverine also announced that well test results showed no presence of chemical contamination at the dump site near the school.

“The waste at the property on Ramsdell Drive was primarily construction debris with a few leather and rubber scraps, and PFAS (perfluorinated chemicals) were not detected in the wells,” said Chris Hufnagel, senior vice president of strategy for Wolverine. “Based on our review we confirmed this waste was disposed of in the 1970s with the permission of the landowner at the time.”

The school testing was sparked by reported evidence of historical waste disposal on land off Ramsdell. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality inspected the property and found leather scraps. The property owner had documents indicating a previous owner allowed Wolverine to use the land as a disposal area.

This year, chemicals from industrial waste Wolverine dumped decades ago were detected in private residential drinking water wells. The department confirmed Tuesday that two neighborhoods near Rockford High School were on bottled water after credible accounts of historical sludge dumping in the area surfaced.

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

The middle school is one of four buildings in the Rockford school district that draw its drinking water from the wells that were tested.

The district Superintendent Michael Shibler said the district will turn the water back on at East Rockford Middle School on Wednesday.


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press,