Air Force taking more actions for PFOS and PFOA at Wurtsmith

  • Published
  • By Malcolm McClendon
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is awarding a contract in July that will expand capture zones to better control migration of Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to Clark’s Marsh and two existing plumes under treatment near Oscoda, Michigan.

“The Air Force has heard the community’s concerns,” said Stephen TerMaath, Chief of the Air Force’s Base Realignment and Closure Program Management Division. “We are eager to begin taking action at these specific locations.”

The contract will expand the capture fields already in place at former fire training area FT002 site and the Central Treatment System located on the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

Additional funding authorized by Congress allowed the Air Force to allocate $13.5 million to PFOS and PFOA requirements at the base and proceed to the next step in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, the Remedial Investigation.

The RI provides critical information on the nature and extent of PFOS and PFOA in soil, sediment, surface water, fish and wildlife, includes a risk assessment to determine whether PFOS and PFOA present unacceptable risks, and further identify what is needed for a comprehensive cleanup at the former base.

“What the RI also means is that we’re now able to conduct interim actions like these while we wait for the investigations and findings to come back,” said Dave Gibson, BRAC Environmental Coordinator.

The Air Force will award the contract one year earlier than anticipated, and will work with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, to verify work plans, and the design and installation of these interim actions, Gibson added.

PFOS and PFOA are components of legacy Aqueous Film Forming Foam the Air Force began using in the 1970s as a firefighting agent to extinguish petroleum fires. At the time, the Air Force used the product as directed by the manufacturer.

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency established health advisory levels in drinking water for PFOS and PFOA. Since then, the Air Force responded aggressively to ensure no one is drinking water over the EPA’s advisory, as a result of their past missions, and has replaced all legacy AFFF products with a new, environmentally responsible formula.

For more information on the Air Force’s response to PFOA and PFOA please visit:

For more information on the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base visit:

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