Those That


Drinking Water At Wurtsmith AFB Contaminted

August 8, 2018

USVCP Staff Writers


Drinking water laced with high levels of poisonous chemicals may be to blame for cancer and other chronic disease among veterans and families who lived at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in northern Michigan, according to a new federal health report draft.


In July 2018 the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), set the table for Congress to consider legislation that would force the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to extend health benefits to base veterans without making them prove their illnesses are linked to chemical exposure. The presumptive disabilities from contaminated water at Wurtsmith AFB would lead to automatic compensation to potentially thousands of veterans.














The chemicals, notably benzene and trichloroethylene (TCE), were documented at extremely high levels in Wurstmith AFB water many times when the former Strategic Air Command (SAC) base was active and home to B-52 Bomber Wings.


To gain a measure of the extremely high levels of contaminated drinking water, according to the ATSDR, TCE levels in a well at the corner of Arrow Street and N. Skeel Avenue were as high as 5,173 parts-per-billion (ppb) during 1977, 1978, & 1979 tests, which is more than 1,000 times the EPA's current limit of 5-ppb for TCE in drinking water. TCE in another well on Jet Street near the present day Wurtsmith AFB museum was 1,739-ppb.


This is an evolving issue with many moving parts.  Stay tuned for further developments.

News & Updates

Add A Comment

Robert Adams, 8/24/20

I was stationed there 1978 -81 lived on base they never told us about the water being contaminated . I am pretty sure Diabetes and Sleep Apnea I have now and neuro dammage in both arms are related , So Presumptive Claims puzzleing I have a claim in and never heard anything I know Senator Kilddee of Michigan is trying to help veterans on this matter but congress are dragging this out.


Danny Sprong, 4/26/20

My first assignment as a Nuclear Weapons specialist was at wurtsmith where we deployed the AGM 69A SRAM missile system. This weapon system used some hazardous and a lot of special chemicals to support it. Prior to our IOC inspection for the SRAM we were ordered to clean out igloos full of barrels 5gal to 55gal drums,1,000s of gallons which had been ordered by mistake to start the system. As a young airman, assumed we were returning the stuff to supply to send to the next base. I was shocked when we drove to a wooded area not far from bomber alert pad and WSA up the road of the k9 area where a bull dozed had dug a large trench and we were ordered to dump the shit. Many of drums ruptured. They included chemicals like MEK, PD 680, TRI CHLOROFLOIANS, ACIDS, ALODIANS, ALL KINDS OF PAINTS, SPECIAL MISSILE SKIN REPAIR KITS. All kind of special chemicals that Boeing told the USAF we had to have. In addition across the base boundary dirt road was the EOD range where every friday morning we burned and destroyed old munitions and other stuff they needed disposed of. It still haunts me today that we had to do that and were told to just follow orders. I remember getting a letter of counseling when I wanted to object as a warning what could happen. The letter never said what I was objecting to, but that I was refusing to for a lawful order. This happened a couple weeks before the IOC which is in the wing,ahistorical records on microfilm.












Tamela Hoffman, 1/27/20

My family lived on this base in 1983 to 1987, are we at risk? My first daughter was born there at their ex husband now, is very sick.


Louis Mercado, 1/19/20

70-77 lived on base housing with family, flight line assistant supervisor. VA counselor "don't waste your time". Heart condition, prostate cancer, diabetic, sometimes confused in making decisions.


Timothy Marcum, 1/15/20
71-73 camp lejeune nc bad water va in redding pretends they know nothing about having problems.


Lora Cole, 1/8/20
I am the daughter to a vet that was in this I was a baby at the time.


Buck Wood, 1/4/20

Stationed there for 84-88 and am suffering with a motor neuron disease process. I worked on the flight line. My symptoms looking back were insidious with weakness and muscle fasciculations. Two years after release I started to experience very visible loss of musculature and strength. I have also read about the PFAS via fire retardant foam. I recall we lost a tanker on touch and goes which had to be extinguished with a massive amount of this chemical.


Robert Krouse, 12/31/19
Stationed at Wurtsmith AFB from 1978 to 1980 and lived in barracks.  Survived stage 3 oral cancer and per medical review, origin unknown since I have never smoked. Now I see this years later.


Michell Newcombe, 10/19/19

My husband and our two children lived there from 1985-1993 I have a nerve problem my daughter has autoimmune (MS) youngest daughter has kidney problems. So now what? What us the compensation for this?


Roger Arvo, 10/11/19

I served at Wurtsmith from 1974-1977 my whole family has suffered from various ongoing ailments. My wife has breast cancer, and Hashimoto's Disease (auto immune), I had a double mastectomy to remove growths, hormone issues, kidney scaring liver lesions, lumps in both lungs, sleep APNEA, sudden onset Headaches, unexplained stress attacks, to name a few. My son, was born on the base, has a malformed aorta and congenital nerve damage hearing loss. With all of this in a single family, the V.A. still rejects and "nexus" to the toxic chemicals on the base. This judgement flies in the face provided by the federal ATSDR and the National Institute of Health. How is it that these large and respected scientific organizations can continue to be ignored in the face of statistically overwhelming data and human impacts.












Mike Modrzynski, 10/26/18

I served at Wursmith AFB from 1982 to 1989, living in base housing the entire time and drinking the water. Now, I have been diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney failure and congestive heart disease, I am currently on dialysis awaiting a kidney transplant. What's next?


Lee Niehaus, 8/17/18

Major Gary Geiger assigned to the 911TH Safety Office with me back in the late 60's or early 70's was a Navitgator on the B-52's assigned to Westover AFB as he used to tell me when we deployed there do not know if he did time at Wurstmith AFB. I still stay in touch with Gary but do not know if he has an e-mail account. Thanks for sending to you and Pat. Lee N.


Joe Sanchez, 8/8/18

No surprise here.