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Gogebic-Iron County Airport (Ironwood, Gogebic County)

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Please contact the Site Lead for the most up-to-date status of this site.

EGLE site lead

Steve Harrington, or 906-869-2806


Gogebic-Iron County Airport is a county-owned, public-use airport located at E5560 Airport Road. In September 2020, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) awarded the airport a grant to investigate the potential for PFAS contamination associated with Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) used at the airport. Aircraft rescue and firefighting personnel at the airport historically performed equipment testing at one known location, which involved discharge of small quantities of AFFF to perform required equipment calibration. In November 2020 LimnoTech was contracted by the airport and began Phase I of the investigation.

Groundwater flow direction is to the north/northwest. Mud Creek runs along the northwest side of the airport property. Sixmile Creek is to the northeast and discharges to the Black River east of the airport.

Content posted July 2021.

Site map

See an aerial view of the location of the site.

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Drinking water

EGLE, MDHHS, and the Western UP Health Department have evaluated local well records and have developed a residential well sampling plan. EGLE has sampled 29 nearby residential wells. Additional residential wells will be sampled if determined necessary as data is received.

Anticipated activities

Gogebic-Iron County Airport submitted the Phase I Investigation report. EGLE and MDOT staff have reviewed the report. The airport will submit the proposed Phase II plan for EGLE and MDOT to review and approve.

Historical Timeline

    • In November 2020, LimnoTech collected three groundwater samples from monitoring wells installed on the east end of the runway. Three storm water samples were collected from various locations on the property. 
    • On January 13, 2021, EGLE and MDOT held a call with the Gogebic-Iron County Airport and their contractors to discuss the findings of the first phase of their investigation. The highest groundwater monitoring well result was 136 ppt PFOA (compared to 8 ppt), 24 ppt PFOS (compared to 16 ppt) and 78.6 ppt PFHxS (compared to 51 ppt).
    • On February 22, 2021, EGLE staff received the Gogebic-Iron County Airport Phase I PFAS Investigation Report.
    • On April 6, 2021, Michigan PFAS Action Response Team hosted a public meeting about the PFAS investigation near the Gogebic-Iron County Airport. Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy provided an overview of PFAS chemicals and testing of area drinking water wells. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provided information about possible health effects related to PFAS exposure. A summary of the on-site investigation at the airport was also provided.  Community members had the opportunity to ask questions after the presentations.
    • On April 13 and 14, 2021 EGLE's contractor AECOM sampled 25 residential wells around the airport.  The results of that sampling found one well above drinking water criteria, and one well with PFAS detections but not above criteria.
    • On April 25, 2021, EGLE conducted sampling near the Gogebic-Iron County Airport.  Surface water samples were collected from Mud Creek, Sixmile Creek, and the Black River.  No surface water samples exceeded the water quality standards (WQS) for PFOS or PFOA.  Of the five surface water samples that were collected, four were non-detect for PFOS.  One sample had detections of PFOA and PFAS, but this sample was not above WQS.  A fish collection was attempted in Mud Creek; however, no legal-sized fish were observed at three separate sampling locations.
    • On May 11, 2021, EGLE staff were notified of an airplane crash north of Airport Road that took place on December 28, 2004.  Staff will check for the potential use of AFFF associated with the crash.
    • On June 15, 2021, a meeting was held with the airport and their consultants, MDOT, and EGLE to discuss the upcoming Short Term Storm Water Characterization Study (STSWCS) requirement of their Industrial Storm Water permit. 
    • On June 21, 2021, AECOM sampled an additional four residential wells near the residential wells with prior detections of PFAS.  The results of that sampling found an additional well with detections of PFAS, however the well was not above criteria.

    Sampling Results Summary

    Type of Sample

    Date Sampled (or range)

    Number of Sample Results Received

    Number of Samples above Criteria*

    Groundwater Monitoring Wells November 2020 3 1
    Surface Water November 2020 - April 2021 8 1
    Residential Drinking Water Wells April 2021 - June 2021 29 1


    *Residential well and groundwater monitoring well results are compared to EGLE Part 201 criteria for 7 PFAS compounds effective 12/21/2020:  PFOS (16 ppt), PFOA (8 ppt), PFNA (6 ppt), PFHxS (51 ppt), PFHxA (400,000 ppt), PFBS (420 ppt), and HFPO-DA (370 ppt).
    *Surface water samples are compared to Rule 57 non-drinking water values of 12 ppt for PFOS and 12,000 ppt for PFOA. 

    Sampling Notes

    • Eight soil samples were collected from the same locations.