Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base Historical Timeline

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) became aware of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination at Wurtsmith Air Force Base (WAFB) in March 2010 when sampling was performed at a former fire training area on the base by EGLE consultants.

Plumes of at least eight square miles have been identified, along with six sites near the base. There are off-base sites that are attributed to the former base (Whispering Pines and Van Etten Lake). The source of Loud Drive contamination is currently unknown.  Those three sites and additional sites in the Oscoda area that are the result of efforts to put out local fires, waste disposal practices or other uses of PFAS containing products, are located under the Oscoda Area page.

2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021

Actions to date include:

  • In April 2015, the Air Force installed a granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment system to treat PFAS-contaminated groundwater collected from the plume from Fire Training Area #2 (FT-02).The Water Resources Division (WRD) issued a Substantive Requirements Document (SRD) on April 15, 2016, which is a permit-like document that specified the effluent limitations and monitoring requirements for the FT-02 GAC treatment system.
  • A "Do Not Eat the Fish" advisory issued by the Department of Human Health Services in 2012 for the marshes and ponds south of the base, Van Etten Creek, and the Au Sable River.
  • The Air Force and EGLE collectively have conducted over 350 drinking water samples (from residential wells and schools) and installed over 600 monitoring wells.
  • A "Do Not Drink the Groundwater" advisory issued in 2016 for part of this area, and alternate water units (in the form of filters or in-home water coolers) provided by the local health department to 206 homes. This number is current as of October 16, 2018.
  • EGLE and the Air Force continue to monitor residential wells and provide alternate water if detections are above the USEPA Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) of 70 ppt PFOA+PFOS.
  • The Air Force has provided connection to municipal water supply at one residence where PFOA and PFOS were detected above the LHA.
  • The WRD issued an SRD on October 7, 2016, which set a compliance date of December 31, 2017, for the installation of multi-stage GAC treatment for the Arrow Street and Benzene Plant groundwater pumping locations.

2018

2019

  • A Base Closure Team Meeting was held with the Air Force on March 13, 2019.
  • On April 23, 2019, the US Air Force held a training session for the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) in Oscoda. 
  • On April 24, the Air Force hosted a public meeting, where Mr. John W. Henderson, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, and Mr. Mark A. Correll, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Safety and Infrastructure gathered for a Q&A session regarding the restoration. Senator Peters was in attendance.  Earlier in the day Mr. Henderson and Mr. Correll toured areas of the former Wurtsmith Air Force.
  • April 24, 2019 - The RAB met.
  • On April 25, 2019, EGLE and the US Air Force met to discuss the dispute resolution.
  • On May 22, 2019 - MDHHS had a Town Hall from 4:00pm - 8:00pm to discuss the new foam advisory. It was held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 5300 US-23, in Oscoda. Open House from 4:00pm - 5:30pm and Meeting from 6:30pm - 8:00pm. 
  • On July 1, 2019, EGLE issued a press release stating "EGLE and the Air Force announce progress to accelerate PFAS investigation and treatment" at the former base.
  • July 1, 2019, EGLE confirmed that the Violation Notice sent to Air Force 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.
  • On July 9, 2019, EGLE created an email list specifically for this site. Sign up for the email list to stay informed on important news, community meetings, and PFAS investigation updates. Updates are sent when significant content is added to the webpage, such as information on community meetings and when significant advancements in the investigation occur. Simply find the "Local Topic Updates", then select "Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base and Oscoda Area Investigations".
  • On July 16, 2019, EGLE held a Town Hall meeting to discuss updates associated with the Oscoda Area and the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. There was an Open House from 4:00pm - 5:30pm, and a Town Hall from 6:30pm - 8:00pm. The Town Hall portion of this meeting was livestreamed starting at 6:30pm. 
  • On July 18, 2019, Representative Allor toured the central groundwater treatment system. Air Force, EGLE, and Oscoda Township participated.
  • On July 25, 2019, EGLE hosted a PFAS response coordination call that included EGLE RRD and WRD, MDNR, MDHHS, DHD2, Oscoda Township, Au Sable Township, OWAA, RAB community co-chair, and Air Force. 
  • On August 1, 2019, during part of an Air Force groundwater monitoring event at FT-02, EGLE conducted oversight of Air Force representative data collection methods.  Additionally, Air Force and EGLE representatives split groundwater samples for PFAS analysis. Due to a shipping error by the contractor, the EGLE samples exceeded the temperature requirements and were not analyzed by the lab. These samples will not be included in the totals above.  The Air Force results will be available in the 2019 monitoring reports
  • On August 8, 2019, the Attorney General toured the Wurtsmith Area, including the Air Force Beach area, existing central groundwater treatment system, and the future Mission Street groundwater treatment system.  The Air Force and EGLE RRD and WRD participated in portions of the tour.  Attorney General Nessel also met with representatives of OWAA, Oscoda Township, and Au Sable Township. 
  • During the week of August 12, 2019, Oregon State University and AECOM staff, collected samples from Van Etten Lake and Clarks Marsh as part of Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (SERDP-ESTCP) funded PFAS research. These samples are not included in the totals above.
  • On August 16, 2019, Representative Allor, the EGLE Director, MPART Executive Director, and EGLE staff met with representatives of Oscoda Township to tour the Oscoda area.
  • On August 20, 2019, EGLE and the US Air Force met to discuss site progress.
  • On August 21, 2019, EGLE Water Resources Division conducted inspections, including sampling, of the FT-02, Central Treatment System, and Mission Street groundwater treatment systems. EGLE collected samples during this event to compare to Air Force sampling results. 
  • On August 28, 2019, 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 participated.
  • September 11, 2019, EGLE shared a projected timeline for the Air Force PFOS/PFOA Expanded Site Inspection report.
  • September 11, 2019 - The RAB met. There was an informal Question & Answer session for an hour beforehand with the United States Air Force.
  • September 13, 2019 - MPART Executive Director, and staff and management from EGLE, MDNR, and MDHHS  met with Au Sable Township and NOW (Need our Water) to discuss environmental response activities and concerns.
  • September 25, 2019, EGLE, MDHHS, and the US Air Force met discuss site progress.
  • September 25, 2019, 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 US Air Force participated.  For a summary of this meeting visit the All other Wurtsmith Documents page.
  • October 2, 2019, EGLE collected "split" groundwater samples from monitoring wells near FT-02 with the Air Force contractor during a long-term monitoring event. The Air Force results will be available in the 2020 monitoring reports.
  • October 23, 2019, Air Force, EGLE, and MDHHS discussed site progress.
  • October 23, 2019, 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 US Air Force participated.
  • November 20, 2019, Air Force, EGLE, and MDHHS met for a BCT meeting to discuss site progress.
  • November 20, 2019, EGLE hosted a PFAS response coordination call. Representatives from EGLE, MDNR, MDHHS, DHD2, Oscoda Township, Au Sable Township, the community RAB, USDA‑FS, and US Air Force participated.
  • December 6, 2019 - EGLE participated in a conference call with Oscoda Township officials and Need Our Water (NOW) group representatives, MDHHS and legislative representatives to discuss the Oscoda Area and former WAFB.
  • On December 11, 2019, EGLE, MDHHS, and Air Force discussed the results of the Draft PFOA/PFOS Expanded Site Inspection via teleconference.
  • On December 19, 2019, 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 US Air Force participated.
  • December 30, 2019, Air Force reported that the Wurtsmith ion exchange resin treatment system for Mission Street is fully functional and treating groundwater. 
  • On December 31, 2019, Air Force submitted the Draft PFOA/PFOS Expanded Site Inspection (ESI) to EGLE.

2020

  • On January 22, 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 US Air Force participated.
  • On January 22, 2020, the U.S. Air Force, EGLE, and MDHHS met for a BCT meeting to discuss site progress.
  • January 24, 2020, staff and select management from MPART, EGLE, MDHHS, and MDNR met with representatives of Oscoda Township, Au Sable Township, and NOW to discuss environmental response activities and concerns. EGLE presented EGLE's Wurtsmith Oscoda conceptual site model at the meeting.
  • On January 28, 2020, EGLE submitted comments to Air Force on the ESI.
  • On January 31, 2020, EGLE finalized the transducer study technical memo, East Side of Van Etten Lake. This is available at the "All other Wurtsmith Documents" page.
  • On February 18, 2020, Air Force, EGLE, and MDHHS met for a BCT meeting to discuss site progress.
  • On February 26, 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 US Air Force participated.
  • 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 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.
  • On April 15, 2020, Air Force hosted the Wurtsmith RAB meeting electronically with assistance from EGLE Environmental Services Division.  The recording and additional information on past RAB meeting is available in the U.S. Air Force Wurtsmith site.​
  • On April 28, 2020, Air Force hosted the BCT meeting with EGLE and MDHHS via teleconference. The review schedule for reports is included in the BCT minutes.
  • On April 29, 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 April 29, 2020, EGLE received a response to EGLE comments from Air Force on the PFOA/PFAS ESI report. The Air Force will place the Addendum, Final PFOS/PFOA ESI Report in the Air Force administrative record.
  • In May 2020, the foam reporting process has been updated.  For information on foam, please visit the MPART Foam Tab.
  • On May 27, 2020, Air Force hosted the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Cleanup Team (BCT) meeting with EGLE and MDHHS via teleconference. The review schedule for reports is included in the BCT minutes.
  • On May 27, 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.
  • 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 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 1, 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. 
  • On July 21, 2020, there was an Oscoda Area and Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base town hall meeting. The meeting included PFAS investigation and public health updates from several state agencies.
  • On July 22, 2020 The Air Force hosted a virtual RAB meeting RAB information is available in the Air Force Wurtsmith site
  • On July 29, 2020, Air Force hosted the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Cleanup Team (BCT) meeting with EGLE and MDHHS via teleconference. The review schedule for reports is included in the BCT minutes.
  • On July 29, 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 July 30, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) hosted virtual listening sessions.  During the sessions, MDHHS heard from the community to determine the next steps toward further evaluation of human exposure to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
  • On August 6, 2020, Air Force requested that EGLE identify potential Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirements (ARARs) for the PFOS/PFOA Remedial Investigation.
  • On August 20, 2020, Air Force hosted a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Cleanup Team (BCT) meeting with EGLE and MDHHS via teleconference to discuss Remedial Investigation and Interim Remedial Action scoping.  Air Force proposed Interim Remedial Actions, which include the expansion of the FT-002 and CTS PFAS groundwater treatment systems.
  • On September 18, 2020, EGLE identified potential Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirements (ARARs) in a letter to Air Force in response to an August 6, 2020 Air Force request. 
  • On September 22, 2020 Governor Whitmer submitted a letter to Assistant Secretary Henderson to urge the Air Force to comply with Michigan PFAS standards at the former Wurtsith Air Force Base. 
  • On September 23, 2020, Air Force hosted the BCT meeting with EGLE and MDHHS via teleconference. The review schedule for reports is included in the BCT minutes.
  • On September 23, 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 October 7, 2020, Air Force hosted a BCT meeting with EGLE and MDHHS via teleconference to discuss Interim Remedial Action scoping.  Air Force proposed Interim Remedial Actions include the expansion of the FT-002 and CTS PFAS groundwater treatment systems. 
  • On October 7, 2020, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Henderson responded to Governor Whitmer. 
  • On October 28, 2020, the U.S. Air Force, EGLE and MDHHS met for a BCT meeting to discuss the Data Quality Objectives for the upcoming PFAS Remedial Investigation.
  • On October 29, 2020, Air Force responded to EGLE's September 18, 2020 Letter, RE: Identification of ARARs. 
  • On November 4, 2020, the U.S. Air Force, EGLE and MDHHS met for a BCT meeting to discuss scoping the upcoming PFAS Remedial Investigation Risk Assessment. 
     
  • Historical Sampling Table: data is reflective of criteria prior to August 3, 2020:
    PFOS + PFOA Only

    This table reflects data received prior to August 3, 2020.

    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. 
    • Historical 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.
      • Reporting of samples EGLE collects to compare to Air Force sampling results began in August 2019. 
      • Foam samples have been taken off-base. Please visit Michigan.gov/PFASFoam for more information. 

2021

  • On January 19, 2021, between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. eastern, MPART hosted a virtual Town Hall meeting.
  • On January 20, 2021, Air Force hosted a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meeting between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. eastern. The meeting was open to the public.  The Air Force's Wurtsmith Page holds RAB materials.
  • In late 2020, Whispering Pines residents were connected to municipal water. 
  • Interim Proposed Plan to expand capture of PFAS contaminated groundwater at FT002 near Clarks Marsh
  • On January 6, 2021, EGLE submitted comments to Air Force for the Interim Proposed Plan to expand capture of PFAS contaminated groundwater at FT002 near Clarks Marsh
  • On February 1, 2021 Air Force submitted responses to EGLE comments and requested the EGLE back check by February 9, 2021.
  • On February 8, 2021, EGLE responded to Air Force. EGLE considers the majority of the comments resolved; however, two comments require further discussion. These comments were resolved on February 8, 2020.
  • Air Force and EGLE continued BCT RI planning meetings in January and February to further discuss data quality objectives. 
  • On January 25 and 29, 2021, Air Force, EGLE and MDHHS met for a BCT meeting to discuss scoping the upcoming PFAS Remedial Investigation Conceptual Site Model and Data Quality Objectives.
  • On February 4, 2021, EGLE, MDHHS, and Air Force met to further discuss aspects of the PFAS Remedial Investigation including soil sampling and sentinel wells. 
  • On February 11, 2021, EGLE and Air Force met to discuss project action levels.