Air Force welcomes community to tour, technical workshop at former Wurtsmith AFB

  • Published
  • By Mollie Miller
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is hosting a technical workshop Oct. 26 and 27 at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Michigan to share the science behind the on-going response to PFAS impacts at the installation.  

The event, featuring a tour and discussions with technical experts, offers community members an in-depth look into the technical processes, tools and approaches the Air Force is using to develop PFAS interim clean-up solutions, said Steve Willis, base realignment and closure environmental coordinator for the former Wurtsmith AFB.

"We have been talking about these systems for a long time and now the community will finally get to see them in action," Willis said. "They have seen the design drawings and the plans for what it is supposed to do and now we are going to talk them through how it works while they are standing in front of the actual equipment."

The workshop kicks off Oct. 26 with a tour of the recently expanded pump and treat systems at the former installation.  The expanded systems are designed to intercept and treat PFAS-impacted groundwater and are part of an $11 million project that nearly doubles the systems' treatment capacity.

On Oct. 27, the workshop shifts to the Warrior Pavilion at Ken Ratliff Memorial Park where Air Force technical experts will be on hand to discuss conceptual site models and why they are important to cleanup efforts. 

"We hope that this event will empower community members with the technical tools they need as we work together to remediate the PFAS impacts from historical Air Force activities," said Kate Lynnes, senior technical advisor, Environmental Restoration Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Safety, and Infrastructure. Lynnes is scheduled to participate in the workshop.

The former Wurtsmith AFB served primarily as a combat crew and bomber training base from 1923 through its closure in June 1993 under BRAC legislation. PFAS impacts at the former base were first identified in 2010 by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. 

The technical workshop is part of the Air Force's commitment to transparency in its restoration activities at Wurtsmith, said Dan Medina, interim Base Realignment and Closure Program Management Division chief. 

"This past May, Nancy Balkus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Safety and Infrastructure, expressed the Air Force commitment to engage with communities impacted by PFAS and we are honored to demonstrate that commitment at Wurtsmith," Medina said. "This technical workshop is an opportunity for people interested in the science behind our response efforts to have a two-way conversation with the Air Force." 

During recent Senate testimony, Balkus highlighted the importance of community involvement in the restoration process and celebrated the contributions of "dedicated community members" who share their questions, concerns, and ideas with the agencies involved in the Wurtsmith cleanup effort.   

"The main priority of the Department of the Air Force Environmental Restoration Program is to protect our Airmen, Guardians, civilian workforce and the families who live and work on our installations and in the surrounding communities," she said. "We remain committed to fulfilling our cleanup responsibilities and welcome the opportunity to be part of a coordinated response to holistically address PFAS research, risk, and remediation."

Community members interested in attending the site tour are asked to meet at the Robert J. Parks Library located at 6010 N. Skeel Ave. in Oscoda on Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. Attendees will caravan from the library to different PFAS treatment locations on the former base. The tour is expected to end by 3 p.m. The PFAS technical workshop is scheduled to begin at noon on Oct. 27 at the Warrior Pavilion at Ken Ratliff Memorial Park. The first session, which will discuss conceptual site models and why they are important to cleanup efforts, will conclude by 1:30 p.m. The second session, which will feature a more in-depth discussion of the Wurtsmith conceptual site model, is scheduled to run from 5 to 7 p.m.

The public is invited to attend any single piece of the event or attend in its entirety. No RSVP is required. For more information, contact Steve Willis at

For more information, visit the administrative record file at: