Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base History

Site FT-02 served as a fire training area at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Mich., from 1958-1991. During training exercises, the Air Force used flammable waste liquids such as oils and jet fuel to create firefighting scenarios for airmen. Airmen extinguished the fires using firefighting foam, and some chemicals from the foam migrated into Clark's Marsh over time. The Air Force has been working to clean up this challenging site since the 1990s.

Oscoda Wurtsmith Airport Authority and the U.S. Forest Service currently own this land. The Air Force worked extensively with federal and state regulators to ensure the property was suitable for transfer from an environmental standpoint, protecting both human health and the environment.

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs)
In 2011, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) tested for the presence of PFCs at the former Wurtsmith AFB. Additional test results indicated the presence of PFCs in fish tissue at Clark's Marsh, and in May 2012, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) issued a "do not eat fish" advisory for the marsh.

The Air Force identifies PFCs as an emerging contaminant with potentially significant impacts to the environmental restoration program; the chemical is difficult to destroy and its toxicity is still being studied. To date neither the state of Michigan nor the United States Environmental Protection Agency has regulatory standards in place for PFCs.

PFCs are found in many commonly used items such as nonstick cookware, waterproof fabric and some food packaging. It is also found in firefighting foam which was used at Site FT-02 while a part of Wurtsmith AFB.

Path Forward
The Air Force is conducting a base-wide investigation in fall 2012 to determine how widespread PFCs are at the former Wurtsmith AFB. After the nature and extent of contamination is determined, the Air Force will conduct a study to identify how to address types of contaminants present. The Air Force is partnering with MDCH, federal and state regulators and local leadership to ensure the continued protection of human health and the environment.

Map of Site FT-02
The map on the next page depicts an aerial view of the former Wurtsmith AFB. Site Ft-02 is outlined in red. Clark's Marsh is outlined and shaded in blue. The Au Sable River floodplain lies immediately south of Site FT-02 and contains wetlands and ponds.

For more information
Air Force Civil Engineer Center Public Affairs
2261 Hughes Ave., Suite 121
Lackland AFB, TX 78236-9821
Current as of November 2012