Congressional District # 01
WURTSMITH AIR FORCE BASEEPA ID# MI5570024278
Last Updated: May, 2015
Site DescriptionWurtsmith Air Force Base (Wurtsmith) is a 5,223 acre site, located on the northeastern part of Michigan's lower peninsula about two miles west of Lake Huron. To the north and northeast of the site is Van Etten Lake, to the southwest is Allen Lake, and to the southeast and east is the village of Oscoda. Of the 5,223 acres, 1,943 acres are owned by the U.S. Air Force. The rest of the facility consists of 2,466 acres that are leased primarily from the state and 814 acres that are registered as easement tracts.
Wurtsmith has operated since 1923 under several different names, beginning as a subsidiary of Selfridge Field, called Camp Skeel. Until World War II, Camp Skeel was used for gunnery practice, winter maneuvers, and aircraft landings. According to The Emergency War Order, the primary mission of the base was to maintain full readiness to conduct strategic bombing operations worldwide. Support activities at the base included aircraft and vehicle maintenance, bombardment crew and unit training, and air refueling support. The base was renamed Oscoda Army Air Field when the Continental Air Command began using it as a transient aircraft stopover. In 1953, the base was renamed back to Wurtsmith Air Force Base, and the present runway and taxiway configurations were established in 1959. In 1960, Wurtsmith AFB came under the command of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command, and several air refueling squadrons were established. In 1977, the base mission was expanded to include the B-52 heavy, long-range bomber. Wurtsmith AFB was officially closed on June 30, 1993 under the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC).
Site ResponsibilityThe site is being addressed through federal actions. The Air Force has the lead responsibility at the site. Primary oversight of the cleanup actions at Wurtsmith AFB is provided by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
Threats and Contaminants
Groundwater quality at Wurtsmith AFB has been affected primarily by previous releases of fuels or solvents, such tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), to subsurface soils, or releases associated with waste disposal in several landfills as part of normal historical base operations. Dissolved TCE was first detected in base water supply wells in 1979.
Wurtsmith is currently being investigated for releases of perflourinated compounds (PFCs), thought to be associated with flame-suppressant chemicals. In 2014, the Air Force was designing a pump and treat system to contain groundwater contaminated with PFCs from the FT-02 site.
The site contamination is being addressed by several long-term remedial actions:
• Building 43 TCE Spill - pump and treat (P&T)
• Arrow Street - P&T System
• Mission Street - P&T reat System
• Benzene Pump and Treat System
• Northern Landfill (LF-30/31) Area- P&T System
• Engineered Groundwater Wetland Treatment System
• FT-02 Perfluorinated Compound (PFC) Pump and Treat System
Future Site Reviews
A base-wide five-year review was completed in September 2004. A second base-wide five-year review was planned for 2009. Due to Air Force funding and contracting issues, this review was not completed until 2011. A third Draft Five Year Review was released by the Air Force in September 2014. The Draft Review concludes that the site is protective of human health and the environment because all remedies are operating as expected and appropriate institutional controls are in place at the base to prevent exposures to site contaminants.
Departure of EPA
EPA notified the Air Force in August 2014 that it would no longer be providing regulatory oversight at Wurtsmith AFB. The Air Force discontinued funding for its support effective October 2014. EPA no longer tracks cleanup progress at Wurtsmith.
Wurtsmith has not yet been added to the NPL. Should it be added to the NPL in the future, it would require negotiation of a Federal Facility Compliance Agreement and direct EPA oversight of the cleanup.
For current information on regulatory oversight of Wurtsmith, contact the Michigan DEQ Project Manager, Robert Delaney at (517) 285-5085.
Public meetings are occasionally held by the Air Force to provide updates on site cleanup to the surrounding community.
Property ReuseThe site is gradually being turned over from the Air Force to the Oscoda Airport Authority for reuse as an industrial park and airfield. Uses include cargo shipment and maintenance of jumbo jet aircraft by a private company on-site.
ContactsRemedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
owen thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
AliasesWURTSMITH USAF BASE
US AIR FORCE WURTSMITH AFB