ROCKFORD, Mich. (AP) – Officials are shutting off drinking fountains and providing bottled water at a middle school in western Michigan as they test water for possible hazardous chemicals from a decades-old tannery waste dump site nearby.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced precautionary measures Thursday at East Rockford Middle School.
Superintendent Michael Schibler said he was notified by the DEQ, the Kent County Health Department and Wolverine Worldwide that a disposal area had been located near the school. He said his immediate concern was the safety of students and staff.
The agency said there’s no evidence of contamination in the Rockford school’s drinking water but said precautions will be taken until test results come back within about two weeks. They also said eight properties adjacent to the subject area will also be tested as a precautionary measure.
Schibler said the school will provide bottled water for cooking and drinking until school administrators know the status of the well water.
Wolverine World Wide used chemicals at its former tannery in Rockford to waterproof leather for Hush Puppies shoe manufacturing. Dump sites have turned up in the area, with contamination including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
State toxicologists said exposure to PFAS have been linked to cancer as well as other health issues.
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