Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Oscoda, Iosco County

Last Updated: January 13, 2021

Base Boundary - Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base

EGLE Site Lead:
Beth Place
PlaceB1@Michigan.gov
(517) 899-7524

All Wurtsmith Documents

Background

Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Oscoda, Michigan, 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, respectively.  Wurtsmith was selected for closure under the 1991 Base Realignment and Closure decision and was officially closed on June 30, 1993. Most of the acreage of the former base has been transferred for reuse.

Under Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), the United States Air Force (Air Force) is responsible for investigating and if necessary, addressing any environmental contamination caused by the Air Force while operating Wurtsmith and has invested in over $85 million in cleanup actions. 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. Air Force has completed the PFAS Preliminary Assessment, Site Inspection, and is currently planning the Remedial Investigation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.  Air Force has performed three removal actions and is currently planning two interim remedial actions to address PFAS.

Recent Accomplishments

  • On November 4, 2020, Air Force, EGLE and MDHHS met for a BCT meeting to discuss scoping the upcoming PFAS Remedial Investigation Risk Assessment.  The Final BCT summaries from planning meetings will be made available on the All Wurtsmith Documents page.
  • In late 2020, Whispering Pines residents were connected to municipal water.
  • EGLE submitted comments to Air Force for the Interim Proposed Plan to expand capture of PFAS contaminated groundwater near Clarks Marsh. 

Next Steps

  • Monthly, Air Force hosts a 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 on the All Wurtsmith Documents page.  The review schedule for reports is included in the BCT minutes.
  • Monthly, EGLE hosts 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 except during months when a MPART Town Hall meeting is scheduled to provide updates.
  • EGLE plans to continue to review data collection methods in Air Force work plans and adherence to the work plans during data collection.
  • Air Force is currently planning a PFAS Remedial Investigation (RI) including a baseline risk assessment.  Below is the tentative schedule.
    • Air Force and EGLE will continue BCT RI planning meetings in January to further discuss data quality objectives.  The PFAS RI BCT planning meetings will help develop Air Force’s PFAS RI work plan to determine the extent of contamination. 
    • Air Force’s goal is to complete the scoping and issue a final RI work plan and separate risk assessment work plan in late Spring 2021.
    • In late Spring 2021, Air Force plans to begin field work for the PFAS RI.
  • Air Force is currently planning two interim remedial actions (IRAs) to expand capture of PFAS contaminated groundwater near Clarks Marsh and Air Force Beach.  Below is the tentative schedule.
    • Air Force plans to submit the interim proposed plan for Air Force Beach to EGLE in late January 2021.
    • After agency comment resolution, Air Force will provide a 30‑day public comment period and public meeting for the interim proposed plans. 
    • Air Force will prepare interim Record of Decisions.
    • Air Force will prepare interim remedial designs in a remedial action work plan. The goal is to finalize the IRA designs in late Spring 2021.
    • In late Summer 2021, Air Force plans to begin IRA installation.

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 later.  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.