AF appoints Wurtsmith RAB members

  • Published
  • By AFCEC Public Affairs

The Air Force has appointed 17 members to the Wurtsmith Restoration Advisory Board to represent the Oscoda, Michigan community in environmental restoration activities at the former Wurtsmith AFB.

The advisory group is comprised of eight government and nine community stakeholders tasked with enabling community involvement and providing input in the environmental restoration process for the former base. RAB members, as well as eight alternates, were nominated for positions by a local, three-person selection committee that reviewed applications.

“We were pleased with the response,” said Gary Kellan, Oscoda-Wurtsmith airport manager and RAB selection committee member. “This is an important project for our community and information regarding ongoing environmental restoration efforts needs to be shared with as many stakeholders as possible.” The selected RAB members include representatives of the broader Oscoda Township and AuSable Township communities, he said.

The newly formed RAB will convene the first week of August for orientation, during which members will vote on a date and time for the first official RAB meeting. The Air Force will publish a public notice in the Oscoda Press prior to the first meeting.

RABs provide a public forum for discussion and information exchange between the Air Force, regulatory agencies and the community, said Matt Marrs, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s base environmental coordinator for the Wurtsmith project.

“People want to know what’s going on in their community and how environmental restoration decisions may impact them personally,” Marrs said. “RABs provide communities with a window to monitor progress and participate in environmental discussions.”

This will be the former base’s second RAB. The first formed in 1994 following base closure and disbanded in 2004. In August 2016, state and community leaders formally requested the Air Force re-establish a RAB in response to potential drinking water contamination stemming from past firefighting activities.

Wurtsmith is one of 203 installations the Air Force identified as potential release locations for Aqueous Film Forming Foam — a firefighting agent used commercially and by the Department of Defense to extinguish petroleum fires and protect people and property.

The Air Force launched a proactive, service-wide investigation in 2010 to assess potential risk to drinking water after the Environmental Protection Agency established health advisories for two perfluorinated compounds found in the legacy AFFF product, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfanate (PFOS).

In conjunction with investigation work, in early 2016 AFCEC conducted private well sampling between the base, Van Etten Lake and Van Etten Creek, sampling 54 residential wells and two municipal wells. One private well exceeded the health advisory; the Air Force immediately provided bottled water and then connected the residence to a municipal water supply. The Air Force is currently re-sampling the 56 wells to determine if PFOS/PFOA levels have changed since the first round of sampling.

For more information on the Air Force response to PFOS/PFOA, please visit or contact AFCEC Public Affairs at1-866-725-7617 or email