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K.I Sawyer Air Force Base, MI


EPA RPM: Diana Mally (312)886-7275 mally.diana@epa.gov

MI RPM: Mark Petrie (906)346-8509 petriem@michigan.gov

(DFSP): Wayne Morse (906) 346-8508 morsewf@michigan.gov

DoD BEC:Gary Koski (906)346-3090 gary.koski@afrpa.pentagon.af.mil

see also: OSWER's page for this site

Site Background

K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, about 23 miles south of Marquette, and covers an area of approximately 5,200 acres consisting of airfield operations, industrial/disposal facilities, housing, recreational facilities, and undeveloped land. The base was first established as the K.I. Sawyer County Airport in 1941. In 1957, nonmilitary operations ceased at the base. In the late 1950s, several fighter and bomber wings were stationed at K.I. Sawyer AFB. In June 1992, control of K.I Sawyer AFB was transferred from Strategic Air Command (SAC) to Air Combat Command (ACC). In 1993, under the Base Realignment and Closure Act, K.I. Sawyer AFB was selected for closure, and officially closed in September 1995.

About one half of the acreage of the base was owned by the Air Force. The rest of the facility is leased primarily from the state. The land surrounding K.I. Sawyer is generally heavily forested, with some low-density residential use. The major surface water feature on the base is Silver Lead Creek, which flows northeast, separating the airfield, industrial area, and community center from the housing area. This creek originates in Stump Lake, which lies on the base=s southern boundary. Downstream, it becomes the West Branch Chocolay River, eventually flowing into Lake Superior.

Threats and Contaminants

In support of past missions at K.I. Sawyer AFB, activities have resulted in releases of hazardous substances into the environment, including degreasers, solvents, paint strippers, and jet fuels. Areas requiring cleanup include solvent and petroleum spill sites, above and underground storage tanks, and fire training areas. In addition, land filling of various solid wastes occurred at four landfills. Since the soil at the site is primarily sand, any spills or leaks at the surface will move rapidly to the groundwater. Exposure to contaminated soils or groundwater may pose a risk to public health.

Cleanup Progress

A groundwater pump and treat system was installed in 1992 to address a trichloroethylene (TCE) plume detected in the central part of the base. In 1996, Landfills 3 and 4 (LF-3 and LF-4) were consolidated and a composite cover was placed over the landfill. In 1999, the contents of Landfill 2 (LF-2) were excavated and placed on another nearby landfill (LF-1). A two-feet cover was than placed on the re graded LF-1 surface. An interceptor trench was installed in 1997 to capture and recovery migrating free product from the POL yard (ST-04) groundwater plume. A SVE system began operating in December 2000 at Site FT-06 to remediate volatile organic contamination (VOC) in soil. Natural attenuation is the selected remedy for several VOC groundwater plumes.

Property Reuse/Transfer

By 2001, all of the property owned by the Air Force at K.I Sawyer was investigated, cleaned up if necessary, and transferred to Marquette County. The county airport operations were transferred to K.I. Sawyer in October 1999. A state-of-the-art lumber mill began operations in 1997 in what was once the former weapons storage area of the base. Another reuser includes a company that performs aircraft maintenance for the American Eagle airline.

Defense Fuel Supply Point

The Defense Fuel Supply Point (DFSP) is a 40-acre site bordering Little Bay de Noc of Lake Michigan, located between Escanaba and Gladstone, Michigan. The DFSP facility supplied jet fuel to the K.I. Sawyer AFB, located 55 miles to the northwest, from the late 1950s until the facility was closed in 1995. The terminal, operated by the Defense Logistics Agency, received and stored jet fuel from lake barges or tankers prior to delivery via pipeline to K.I. Sawyer.

From the late 1800s until the 1940s, this site and surrounding area was used for various industrial activities, including production of tannic acid, wood-derived chemicals, charcoal, and pig iron. These past industrial operations impacted this area as evidenced by the deposits of wood tar and iron foundry wastes. Soil and groundwater have also been contaminated with jet fuel due to Air Force operations.

A slurry wall was installed around the tank farm in 1985 as a countermeasure for potential tank releases. In 2000, the Air Force removed the eight large above ground storage tanks, several underground storage tanks, fuel-loading facilities and associated piping. More than 40,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with jet fuel and wood tar waste were excavated in 2002 and sent off- site for disposal. A seep control system and biosparge system are being installed in 2003 to remediate fuel contaminated soil and groundwater within the slurry wall. The remedial action will provide for residential development of the site with restrictions only on groundwater use and deep soils.

Significant Issues- (APRIL-JUNE 2003)

Issues Impacting Reuse/Transfer: None at this time.

Completed to Date in FY #
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Major BCT achievements or successes

Technology Optimization, Partnering, Property Transfer:

  1. Achievements: None at this time
  2. Issues: None at this time.

Community Activities

  1. Achievements: The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) continues to prepare a Health Consultation for the DFSP site at the Request of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. ATSDR conducted a site visit in August, 2002.
  2. Issues:None at this time.

Any other relevant installation issues not covered elsewhere: None at this time.

  1. Defense Fuel Supply Point (DFSP) - Escanaba: The Air Force and MDEQ continue to have discussions regarding the adequacy of characterization/clean up verification sampling events.
  2. K.I. Sawyer AFB - Gwinn: EPA provided approval of the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for Fire Training Area 1 (Site FT-6) and provided comments on the Draft RAP for Site AF-53 during this reporting period.

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