Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Oscoda, Iosco County - New

Updated: March 30, 2020Base Boundary - Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base

Background

Wurtsmith Air Force Base served primarily as a combat crew and bomber training base throughout its 70-year history. Since its establishment in 1923, Wurtsmith played an important role in World War II, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War, hosting the 134th Army Air Force Base Fighter Unit and 379th Bombardment Wing.  Wurtsmith was officially closed on June 30, 1993. Most of the acreage (4,354 of 4,628 acres) of the former base has been transferred for reuse.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) became aware of PFAS concentrations in groundwater in March 2010 when EGLE staff performed sampling at a former fire training area on the base. The Air Force Civil Engineering Center (Air Force) is the lead cleanup agency. 

Recent Accomplishments

  • September 18, 2019, MDHHS and MDNR provided an updated map of the current health advisory for deer taken within five miles of Clark’s Marsh.  The advisory was issued in October 2018 due to high levels of PFAS chemicals found in a deer taken within five miles of the marsh. For additional information about this advisory and testing, visit the PFAS in Deer webpage.
  • MDHHS is offering drinking water well retesting to Oscoda-area residents whose wells were previously tested for PFAS or who were offered drinking water filters, or both. There is no charge for the testing.  MDHHS has contacted these residents by letter and by phone to schedule water collection appointments. Seasonal residents who are away for the winter can schedule an appointment at a later date.  The goal of the repeat testing is to determine if PFAS is in residential wells; if so, the amount of PFAS; and whether the amount is increasing, decreasing, or remaining the same over time.  MDHHS will be retesting these drinking water wells in coordination and District Health Department No. 2.  Residents who have questions about this PFAS testing effort or who would like to schedule an appointment can call the MDHHS Drinking Water Hotline at 844-934-1315.
  • On March 13, 2020, MPART Agencies met with NOW (Need Our Water) Community Group and Oscoda Township representatives via teleconference to discuss the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base and Oscoda Area sites.  EGLE presented their understanding of the Air Force Expanded Site Inspection (ESI) Report and highlights from EGLE comments on the report. 
  • On March 25, 2020 EGLE hosted a PFAS response coordination call. Representatives from EGLE, MDNR, MDHHS, DHD2, Oscoda Township, Au Sable Township, OWAA, the community RAB, USDA‑FS, and Air Force were invited to attend.  These calls will continue to occur monthly.
  • On March 25, 2020, Air Force hosted the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Cleanup Team (BCT) meeting with EGLE and MDHHS via teleconference. The BCT Final Minutes from the February 2020 BCT Meeting are available at the “All other Wurtsmith Documents” page.  The review schedule for reports is included in the BCT minutes.
  • On March 25, 2020, EGLE submitted comments to Air Force on the Draft Final 2017 and 2018 Annual Remedial Action Operation Reports for Installation Restoration Program Sites (IRPs) LF-27, OT‑16, SS‑05, SS-08, SS-51, SS-71, SS-72, ST-68, ST-69, and WP-04. These Air Force reports summarize the long-term monitoring and evaluate groundwater sampling data that occurred in 2017 and 2018 associated with historical site remedies.
  • On March 30, 2020, EGLE submitted comments to Air Force on the Draft Final 2017 Annual Remedial Action Operation Report for Arrow Street, Benzene Plant, and Mission Street Pump and Treat Systems, Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Oscoda, Michigan.

Next Steps

  • EGLE plans to continue to collect split environmental samples in future Air Force sampling events and continues to review data collection methods in work plans and adherence to the work plans during data collection.
  • EGLE will continue working on action items from the dispute resolution meetings held on April 19, 2018, and April 25, 2019.
  • During the week of April 27, 2020, EGLE will host a PFAS response coordination call. Representatives from EGLE, MDNR, MDHHS, DHD2, Oscoda Township, Au Sable Township, OWAA, the community RAB, USDA-FS, and Air Force are invited to attend.  These calls will continue to occur monthly.
  • Air Force, EGLE, and MDHHS will meet the week of April 27, 2020 for a BCT Meeting to discuss site progress.
  • EGLE anticipates a response to comments from Air Force on the PFOA/PFAS ESI report.

Residential Well Testing/Alternate Water Information

  • See the Oscoda Area page for more information on residential well sampling.
  • For additional information on residential well testing and results, visit the Frequently Asked Questions.
  • EGLE has sampled all municipal water supplies for PFAS. The community of Oscoda purchases water from the Huron Shores Regional Utility Authority (HSRUA). View the results for HSRUA.

Van Etten Lake and Whispering Pines

  • The Van Etten Lake Timeline is located below. Moving forward updates will be incorporated into the former Wurtsmith MPART page.

Whispering Pines

  • The Whispering Pines Timeline is located below. Moving forward updates will be incorporated into the former Wurtsmith MPART page.
Sampling: PFOS and PFOA Only

Type of Sample

Date Sampled

# of Samples

# of Results Received

# of Non-detects

# Between Non-detect and standard*

# > Standard

Groundwater

Mar 2010 -
Present
736 736 115 373 268
Surface Water May 2010 -
Present
181 181 22 62 97
Comparison to AFCEC Aug 2019 - Present 9 0 - - -

Cumulative

  926 917 137 435 365

*Groundwater results are compared to EGLE Part 201 Criteria of 70 ppt PFOS+PFOA.
*Surface water and effluent results are compared to Rule 57 surface water quality values of 12 ppt for PFOS and 12,000 ppt for PFOA. 
*Residential well results are available on the Oscoda Area page. 

Sampling notes

  • Sample totals in the table provided above reflect samples taken from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base and samples from 6 Oscoda Area sites (excluding Oscoda Township Dump).
  • Other PFAS analytes were detected in samples. There are no federal or state standards for these analytes.
  • Fifteen foam samples have been taken off-base. A foam health advisory was issued by the local health department. Results range from 2,237 - 110,830 ppt PFOA+PFOS; and 2,487 - 164,253 ppt total tested PFAS. Cedar Lake (off base) foam results at 165 ppt PFOA and PFOS.
  • Groundwater sampling is both on and off-base. Surface water sampling is off-base.
  • Reporting of samples EGLE collects to compare to Air Force sampling results began in August 2019.  

Van Etten Lake

  • In Summer 2017, EGLE began sampling of foam on the surface of Van Etten Lake. Sampling of foam still occurs to present day, depending on the volume of foam, location, and type/appearance. As of December 2019, updates will be incorporated into the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base timeline.

     View Entire Timeline

Whispering Pines

  • Starting in January 2016, DHD 2 began providing alternate water to Whispering Pines’ residents due to high levels (not above the LHA of 70 ppt) of PFOA and PFOS. As of December 2019, updates will be incorporated into the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base timeline.

     View Entire Timeline

Report Foam on Van Etten Lake

  • If you observe foam on Van Etten Lake , please report it to the State of Michigan’s Pollution Emergency Alerting System (PEAS) hotline at 800-292-4706 or fill out and send this email form. The following information is needed when you call or email:

    Van Etten Lake Foam

    • Name, Address, City, State, and Zip
    • Telephone Number
    • Email
    • Where is the foam located? (an address or location)
    • How much foam is present, length by width by thickness? (we understand this is an estimate/best guess)
    • What time did you first observe the foam, and is it still present?
    • If it is a floating mass of foam, which direction is it moving?
    • Wind speed, wind direction, and air temperature? If not, this information is not essential.
    • Can you take a picture of the foam and attach it to this email?