Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Oscoda, Iosco County

Updated: July 27, 2020Base Boundary - Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base


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

  • According to a June 12, 2020 Air Force press release, Air Force “is awarding a contract in July that will expand capture zones to better control migration of Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to Clark’s Marsh and two existing plumes under treatment near Oscoda, Michigan.”
  • On June 24, 2020, Air Force hosted the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Cleanup Team (BCT) meeting with EGLE and MDHHS via teleconference. The Final BCT Minutes from recent meetings are made available in “All Wurtsmith Documents.  The review schedule for reports is included in the BCT minutes.
  • On June 24, 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 June 30, 2020, District Health Department 2 (DHD2) issued a press release reminder to avoid foam on Van Etten  Lake (and Cedar Lake).
  • On July 21, 2020 MPART hosted a virtual Town Hall meeting.
  • On July 22, 2020 The Air Force hosted a virtual RAB meeting RAB information is available in the Air Force Wurtsmith site

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.
  • In May 2020, the foam reporting process has been updated.  For information on foam, please visit the MPART Foam Tab.
  • During the week of July 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 July 27, 2020 for a BCT Meeting to discuss site progress.

Residential Well Testing/Alternate Water Information

  • 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.
  • More information on residential well sampling is included in the Oscoda Area 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


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


  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 above provided table reflect samples taken from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base and some historical samples from the Oscoda Area sites.
  • Other PFAS analytes were detected in samples. There are no federal or state standards for these analytes.
  • Foam samples have been taken off-base. Please visit the MPART Foam Tab for more information on foam.
  • Reporting of samples EGLE collects to compare to Air Force sampling results began in August 2019.