EGLE and USAF announce progress to accelerate PFAS investigation and treatment at former Wurtsmith Air Force Base

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2019
Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs Office, afimsc.pa.workflow@us.af.mil, 866-725-7617
Jill A. Greenberg, EGLE Public Information Officer, GreenbergJ@Michigan.gov, 517-897-4965

OSCODA, Michigan -- The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the US Air Force (USAF) jointly announced today that the Air Force will accelerate the pace of current investigative work and increase water treatment to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

The announcement follows an April 25th dispute resolution meeting between USAF and EGLE at which expectations and priorities for work in the near term were discussed. The talks resulted in several new areas of agreement:

  • USAF confirmed that the Mission Street groundwater treatment system will be operational by the end of 2019. This system will be used to capture and treat PFOS/PFOA contaminated groundwater identified during the Site Inspection phase at former Wurtsmith.
  • USAF agreed to use Michigan’s 12 parts per trillion groundwater-surface water interface (GSI) criterion in its investigation when sampling and measuring perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). There is also agreement between USAF and EGLE that Michigan’s cleanup standards for groundwater used as drinking water and the GSI criterion will be evaluated as legally applicable requirements when the Air Force is selecting remedial actions at Wurtsmith under the statutory process known as consideration of Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirements (ARARs).
  • USAF committed to completing and submitting the ongoing Expanded Site Inspection (ESI) report to EGLE by the end of this calendar year. The report will present results of the current field work to determine the presence and impact of PFOS/PFOA at the former installation and evaluate the effectiveness of existing interim remedial action treatment systems that are capturing and treating groundwater, such as at FT-02. The report will recommend locations requiring further remedial investigation as well as identify focus areas where additional groundwater extraction wells may be needed.
  • USAF will review the possibility of other Interim Remedial Actions for groundwater contaminant plumes venting into Van Etten Lake.
  • USAF committed to implementing a Base-wide Remedial Investigation following an evaluation of the ESI results.

Unrelated to the dispute resolution process, EGLE confirmed that the Violation Notice sent to USAF on January 16, 2018, has been addressed through the installation and start-up of a granular activated carbon system to treat groundwater at the Benzene and Arrow Street locations.  This violation notice is now considered closed.

For more information about PFAS contamination at the Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, please visit the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team website at Michigan.gov/PFASResponse.

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