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Kincheloe Air Force Base (KAFB) (Kinross Township, Chippewa County)

EGLE Site Lead: Scott Schaefer, SchaeferS2@Michigan.gov or 906-630-4282. Webpage last updated February 18, 2021.

Background

The Department of Defense (DoD) acquired the former Kincheloe Air Force Base (KAFB) in 1941 and operated it until 1976. DoD officially closed KAFB in 1977.

In 1990 DoD identified the KAFB as a formerly use defense site (FUDS) property. As a FUDS property, DoD is responsible for environmental cleanup and restoration. The Army is the lead agency for the FUDS cleanup program; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) manages the program on behalf of Army and DoD.

The KAFB covers 7,265 acres and consists of airstrips, aircraft support and fueling facilities, fuel storage areas, command and control centers, training facilities, base housing and base landfills (e.g. Landfill 01). Starting in the early 1990s USACE began investigating these areas, some of which are ongoing. During some of these investigations USACE discovered significant soil and groundwater contamination, and as a result, implemented several interim response actions. For example, in the mid-2000s USACE constructed new municipal drinking water wells and pump house for Kinross Township to replace municipal wells impacted or threatened by chlorinated volatile organic compounds detected in the groundwater.

EGLE has detected PFAS in groundwater at  four potential PFAS source areas: Landfill 01 (LF01) located at the north end of the KAFB, Landfill 02 (LF02) located just east of Hiawatha Correctional, a former Fuel Storage Area (FSA) just north of the Chippewa County International Airport (CIU), and the Fire Training Area (FTA) at the south end of the airport runway.  A fifth source of PFAS was discovered when the CIU completed soil and groundwater sampling near the maintenance building that CIU uses for conducting its required testing of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) equipment used for firefighting purposes.

Groundwater flow at the KAFB is primarily south/southeast, except for  LF01 where the groundwater appears to flow in several directions. There are two watersheds within the KAFB boundary. The Waiska River which is north of LF01 and the Munuscong River which is hydraulically downgradient from the  FSA and the FTA.

Former Kincheloe AFB PFAS Investigation Area Map

Recent Accomplishments

  • On January 29, 2021, EGLE received from CIU a report summarizing the October 2020 sampling event.  PFAS contamination was present in soil and groundwater near the maintenance building they use for testing AFFF firefighting equipment.  Highest exceedances of PFAS in groundwater were PFHxS at 28,500 ppt, PFOA at 1870 ppt, and PFBS at 758 ppt.  Sample results are summarized in table below.

Next Steps

  • CCHD will continue with its contacting of residences which had drinking water exceedances for PFOA in the August 2020 sampling event to offer point of use filters and to answer any questions they may have.
  • EGLE staff will seek additional state funding to sample additional residential drinking water wells that may be at risk from the PFAS contamination that was discovered at CIU.

Residential Well Testing/Alternate Water Information

  • Two residential homes were offered point of use filters. One residence has confirmed installation.

Upcoming Community Engagement

  • None scheduled at this time.

Sampling Results Summary

Type of Sample

Date Sampled (or range)

Number of Sample
Results Received

Number of Samples above
Criteria*

Residential Wells

August 25 - 27, 2020 - November 2020 29 5
Drinking Water (Commercial) November 4, 2020 2 0
Groundwater Monitoring Wells October 19 - 20, 2020 4 3
* Residential well and groundwater monitoring well results are compared to EGLE Part 201 criteria for 7 PFAS compounds:  PFOS (16 ppt), PFOA (8 ppt), PFNA (6 ppt), PFHxS (51 ppt), PFHxA (400,000 ppt), PFBS (420 ppt), and HFPO-DA (370 ppt).

Sampling Notes

  • On August 3, 2020, new Part 201 Criteria went into effect.  Historical sampling data compared to Part 201 Criteria >70 is captured in the historical timeline below.
  • Soil samples were also collected during the October 19-20, 2020 sampling event with PFOS detections noted near the ground surface.

Historical Timeline

    • On August 5-9, 2019, EGLE’S contractor collected 24 groundwater samples from the Former KAFB.
    • On September 18, 2019, EGLE received the results from the August sampling event. The highest PFOS+PFOA result was 1,320 ppt, all of which was PFOA.
    • On October 11, 2019, EGLE notified USACE about EGLE detecting PFAS in groundwater samples from the Former KAFB.
    • On November 5, 2019, EGLE discussed groundwater analytical results and potential PFAS source areas with Kinross Township, Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Chippewa County International Airport, CCHD, and Chippewa County Board of Directors.   
    • On November 6, 2019, EGLE had a conference call with CCHD and other team members to determine residential well sampling locations.
    • EGLE, in coordination with CCHD, has identified potential down-gradient private drinking water wells at risk for PFAS and plans to initiate sampling efforts January 16, 2020.
    • EGLE sent 20 access agreement letters dated January 6, 2020, to local residents where private well water sampling for PFAS is proposed.
    • A public meeting was held on January 15th at the Kinross Township Hall at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the residential well sampling effort.
    • In mid-January 2020, EGLE sampled 19 residential wells in a neighborhood which was potentially at risk from the PFAS contamination detected at the fire training area.
    • EGLE identified additional residential well sampling locations based on detections from January 2020 sampling effort.
    • EGLE has requested USACE investigate apparent releases of PFAS from the KAFB LF01. 
    • On February 5, 2020, EGLE received the sampling results from the residential well sampling in mid-January 2020.  Six samples had detections of PFAS but below the USEPA Lifetime Health Advisory level of 70 ppt PFOS + PFOA.  Results are reflected on the sampling chart.
    • By March 2, 2020, all homeowners whose wells were sampled were sent a copy of the analytical results along with other information regarding PFAS.
    • EGLE notified residents by mail who were to have additional well sampling conducted in mid-April that this sampling is postponed.
    • During the week of May 11, 2020, a surface water sample from Dukes Lake and 21 groundwater samples were collected from the LF02 and the FTA to determine if any additional PFAS risks may be present in those locations.
    • In June 2020, EGLE received analytical results from the May 11, 2020, surface water sample from Dukes Lake and 21 groundwater samples from LF02 and the FTA were received and evaluated.  The highest PFOS + PFOA groundwater was 4,410 ppt from the FTA.  Results are summarized in the historical chart.
    • In August 2020, EGLE sampled 17 additional residential wells in the same neighborhood that was shown to be at risk from PFAS contamination originating from the FTA.  Analytical results are summarized in the first chart.

    Type of Sample

    Date Sampled

    # of Samples

    # of Results Received

    # of Non-detects

    # Between Non-detect and standard*

    #>Standard

    Monitoring Wells

    Aug 2019 - May 2020 45 45 16 17 12
    Residential Wells Jan 2020 19 19 13 6 0
    Surface Water May 2020 1 1 0 1 0

    Cumulative

    65 65 29 24 12

    * Groundwater results are compared to EGLE Part 201 Criteria of 70 ppt PFOS+PFOA.
    * Residential well results are compared to the USEPA Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 70 ppt PFOS+PFOA.

    • On September 8, 2020, EGLE sent a compliance communication to the USACE requesting them to initiate response activities to comply with their obligations under state and federal law to address PFAS contamination issues at the FTA and LF02.
    • On October 19-20, 2020, CIU conducted groundwater and soil sampling.
    • November 4 – 5, 2020, EGLE sampled 11 residential and two commercial wells in the areas of Tone, Wilson, and Caldwell Roads to determine risk of PFAS contamination associated with LF02.  None of the sample results exceeded drinking water criteria.  In addition, a resample was collected from a residence on West 20 Mile Road to see if results are consistent over time.  Analytical results are summarized in the chart below.
    • On December 11, 2020, a meeting with Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Chippewa County Health Department (CCHD), and EGLE was conducted to summarize the site status, develop protocol for point of use filters, and determine next steps.
    • On January 29, 2021, EGLE received from CIU a report summarizing the October 2020 sampling event.  PFAS contamination was present in soil and groundwater near the maintenance building they use for testing AFFF firefighting equipment.  Highest exceedances of PFAS in groundwater were PFHxS at 28,500 ppt, PFOA at 1870 ppt, and PFBS at 758 ppt.