The Stream, December 12, 2019: Wolverine World Wide Agrees to $69.5M Settlement Over PFAS Contamination

The Global Rundown

Wolverine World Wide agrees to a $69.5 million settlement with Michigan towns contaminated by PFAS chemicals linked to the company’s manufacturing waste. Intense storms hit South Africa, causing flash floods and power blackouts. The United States Congress brokers a deal to halt the use of military firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals. ASEAN member countries agree to combat drought in the region, including along the Mekong River Delta. Activists in Detroit, Michigan, gather to protest ongoing water shutoffs in the city. 

“We want to get the message out that water is a human right. Imagine a Christmas without water on in your home. You can’t wash your food, you can’t clean your house, you can’t clean your clothes, you can’t take a bath, you can’t flush your toilet.” –Sister Mary Ellen Howard, a nun involved with the People’s Water Board Coalition, one of the organizers of a recent protest against ongoing water shutoffs in Detroit, Michigan. In 2018, 16,000 customers in the city experienced service interruptions. Detroit News

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By The Numbers

$69.5 million Size of a settlement that Wolverine World Wide has agreed to pay toward new water infrastructure in parts of Kent County, Michigan, where the company’s tannery waste contaminated groundwater with toxic PFAS chemicals, affecting 1,500 homes. The settlement potentially concludes a two-year dispute between Wolverine and state and local officials. MLive

In context: From Michigan to the Nation — A Groundwater Emergency.

700 Homes washed away near Pretoria, South Africa, amid recent heavy rainfall. In addition to wiping out homes, floods have also hit coal mines and power stations, leading to power blackouts. BBC

Science, Studies, and Reports

Member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) say they will take immediate action against drought in the region. Focus will be on crop losses, as well as the dry conditions and dam construction along the Mekong River. Relief Web

On the Radar

A new agreement by the United States Congress would halt military use of firefighting foam containing PFAS, but falls short of placing stricter regulations on the toxic chemicals. The spending bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, was seen as a potential opportunity to heighten oversight of the contaminants. Proposals included requiring PFAS-contaminated sites to be cleaned under the Superfund program, as well as limits on how much PFAS could be deposited into water supplies, but these were ultimately rejected. If approved, the final bill does require the military to drop the use of PFAS-contaminated firefighting foam by 2024. Los Angeles Times

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