Steve Gruber Exclusive: Report: Our Water May Be #WorseThanFlint
West Michigan’s poisoned wells are just the beginning of a water contamination problem that could spread across the state and impact millions of people living here. In fact, a report was issued years ago with the intention of warning people of the severe health risks posed by emerging chemicals known as PFCs but nobody seems to know who ever read the report or what ultimately was done with the information.
The expanding zone of contaminated groundwater near sites owned or once used by Wolverine Worldwide in Rockford, Michigan has people understandably very concerned for their health and that of their families. The contamination area is focused primarily on the tannery. The company used this facility until it closed its doors and was finally torn down in 2010. The water problem, however, appears to date back decades. It involves reckless and possibly illegal dumping of chemicals by Wolverine Worldwide that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA know are dangerous for human consumption. Both the DEQ and EPA have been warned about the toxicity of the compounds known as PFC’s and PFOA’s.
For some reason, the State of Michigan and the agencies charged with protecting human health have opted to keep a report about the dangerous chemicals and the impacts they are having statewide practically silent. But why?
These dangerous chemical compounds were used in products too numerous to count including common stain fighters like Scotchguard and the fire fighting foam, AFFF were being used by all branches of the United States military at bases in Michigan, the US and around the world. The chemical compounds are not naturally occurring, are nearly impossible to get rid of and were produced at a rate of tens of thousands of tons each year. The compounds were also used in such things like pizza boxes, carpeting adhesive, cooking utensils, Teflon, food packaging, upholstery and a many other things you might be using today. The problem is these chemicals are likely in you, your children and are likely to remain ubiquitous for generations to come because they have migrated into the soil and into water sources, such as the Au Sable River, and are reaching levels well beyond what is considered safe for your drinking water.
What’s worse is the state of Michigan and the EPA have known this for a long time and they either aren’t telling the truth or remaining very quiet about the issue. In fact, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality requested and funded a detailed report of the amount of contamination in the state from PFC’s and PFOA’s but when it was delivered failed to act, even though the findings were dire. I received a copy of the report from a scientist who was hired, along with others, to look into the contamination, after I had failed to find any trace of its existence during exhaustive online searches.
PFC’s and PFOA’s are linked to several kinds of deadly and debilitating illnesses including testicular cancer, prostate cancer, autoimmune diseases, autism, attention deficit disorder and even asthma. Unfortunately, for the residents in and around Rockford this is something they are already coming to terms with. They are now realizing that the company, Wolverine Worldwide who formed part of their community may have poisoned the entire area by not following recommendations on how to dispose of these poisonous chemical compounds. DuPont is paying out hundreds of millions of dollars for a similar case in West Virginia that involved allowing the chemicals to be dumped in a landfill that later leached into ground water, poisoned numerous municipal water systems and affected tens of thousands of people, many of which didn’t live long enough to see justice served.
“This is an epic statewide failure in Michigan,” said one person who is very familiar with the report. The report I’m told was prepared and presented at the highest levels of the DEQ in 2012 but was nothing was ever done. The people that put the report together were planning on “meeting with the governor” to discuss the severity of the situation because of the level of contaminated ground water all over the state and the dire, direct health implications for Michigan residents. The director of the DEQ at the time the report was contracted, Dan Wyant and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder were both expected to see the final version. From my investigation, I believe Wyant received the report. It is not clear if Governor Snyder saw the report or not. The other comment that concerned me deeply was about the Michigan Department of Public Health that I was told, “fought us every step of the way.”
In going through the findings, which include numerous pages of scientific evaluations, tables, explanations and concerns along with recommendations that included launching studies immediately on the impact the contaminates would have on the health of residents; it is hard to fathom how this report wasn’t front page news when it was finalized and released. In fact, it appears instead of being published on the front page anywhere it was instead buried in the hopes it would just disappear because the poisoning is too widespread and the cost would be overwhelming. However, despite the efforts to make it all disappear the toxins and the story continue to bubble to the surface and we are all paying the price, or it's possible we will.
DEQ Director, Dan Wyant resigned a couple of years after the report in December of 2015 in the aftermath of the Flint water crisis that rocked the Snyder administration and made headlines around the world. In that case, both the DEQ and EPA were called out for not reacting to the spreading issues of water contamination following a switch to a new source that became toxic from lead.
According to the report given to Dan Wyant’s DEQ, groundwater poisoning is almost certainly statewide and puts millions of residents at risk for adverse health impacts, including cancer and autoimmune diseases. The contamination involves municipal water supplies, all military bases, private wells, streams, rivers and lakes including The Great Lakes. The Department of Defense has a huge liability in the matter because of the incredibly high levels of contamination cited in the report involving the militaries use of fire fighting foam also known as AFFF. Leaching of those chemicals means the high-risk areas are not contained to dumping areas but rather extend like fingers throughout Michigan and follow the flow of streams, rivers and other waterways as natural paths of dispersion.
Every single military installation in Michigan and through out the United States that used so called AFFF, firefighting foam is at tremendous risk for contamination and would put the Department of Defense in the crosshairs for billions of dollars in civil lawsuits, the likes of which have never been seen before. So far every military base tested for these toxins in the United States has tested far above the EPA guidelines for safe consumption.
The report we have also indicates that numerous studies have shown PFC/PFOA contamination throughout the food chain of the entire Great Lakes region. PFC’s have been identified in benthic algae, amphipods, zebra mussels, gobies, salmon, trout, mink, eagles, frogs and turtles. The report even includes the ominous line, ‘Michigan holds the dubious honor of having the most PFC contaminated fish reported in the literature from around the globe.’
The bottom line is this, Michigan is a toxic waste dump from one end to the other and plenty of people knew it. Businesses knew it and kept dumping. Government agencies, knew it, their bosses knew it and kept looking the other way hoping it would go away. Well, guess what? It didn’t.
Which all begs the question, why did the Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Department of Public Health, and officials possibly in the highest levels of the government decide to ignore this report and pretend everything is alright? Everything is not all right and new reports are starting to appear almost daily that support everything I have written so far and honestly we are just getting started. The documents I have and the witnesses I have identified, will likely blow the lid off the biggest environmental catastrophe and scandal in the history of The United States.
They all sold us out. The companies that sold us the poison and the government we elected to look out for us all sold us to the highest bidder. At least that is how it looks from here.
This story continues to develop and as more witnesses become available and documents come to light we will work to keep you up to date. This is a story that impacts each and every one of us and it is our mission to get you the best information available.