Wolverine tannery demolition underway

Company offers reassurance on safety precautions

Readers have continued to express concerns over the safety of the demolition of the 100-plus year-old tannery in downtown Rockford.

The Squire contacted Wolverine and asked that some of the concerns be addressed again. The following are points of the work plan prepared by Pitch Inc. and comments from Wolverine regarding safety precautions.

Environmental Responsibility and Safety during Demolition of Former Wolverine World Wide Tannery Site:

The office and Pig Procurement building is coming down, the first of all the Wolverine Tannery buildings which will be demolished at the complex on Main Street. photo by GREG YOUNG


• During former tannery operations, Wolverine maintained a high level of environmental stewardship, and we are not aware of any environmental issues related to the site. In fact, over many years of continual operating, testing and permitting, no significant contamination issues were found.

• It is noteworthy that both the Rogue River and Rum Creek, which runs directly under the former tannery site, are healthy water systems and have shown no signs of any negative environmental impact related to the tannery’s operations.

• Wolverine World Wide selected Pitsch Companies, based in Grand Rapids, as the contractor who is handling all of the demolition, environmental testing and monitoring work. A copy of their detailed Work Plan is accessible from the City of Rockford website.

• All required preparations were taken and the necessary permits and approvals were granted prior to the start of any work on the site. These included pre-demolition testing for asbestos-containing materials (ACM), PCB-containing materials, and lead-based paints, removal of any ACM and PCBs, and filing all notices required under state and federal law. In addition, all process chemicals were removed from the site, all process piping was cleaned, and all water used in the cleaning was cleaned and discharged under the proper permits.

• The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (MDNRE) conducted an on-site inspection prior to any demolition work beginning and the City of Rockford issued a demolition permit.

• The primary objective at the site during the clearing process is to safely and properly dispose of the buildings, structures, universal wastes, and non-hazardous wastes from the premises and restore the site to grade. As a precaution, any dust from the clearing activities will be suppressed with water, and the Work Plan details how that water will be diverted away from the Rogue River and storm drains. Air monitoring of the site will be conducted continuously throughout the demolition process. Pitsch has established (3) monitoring stations on the site that are being used to collect and analyze air samples every 15 minutes. Additionally, representative air samples will be collected from Pitsch equipment operators working on the site and analyzed following the same procedures. These samples will be tested for lead, cadmium, chromium and asbestos. Results of the air monitoring will be posted on the site within 24 hours of receiving the analytical results, which will be compared to the applicable OSHA limits.

• While there are no known hazardous chemicals located on the premises, the Work Plan specifies that, if Pitsch encounters any hazardous materials, work will be stopped immediately, notification will be made, and the proper procedures will be followed to analyze, test and handle the materials in accordance with all applicable environmental laws.

• The City of Rockford has also retained an independent environmental consultant. This consultant will have full access to all of the testing results, which will be provided by Wolverine, as well as access to the site to conduct any separate or additional testing.

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