Delayed: Board gets Brownfield update, Air Force slow to respond

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette In addition to groundwater and soil contaminants found at the former USAF radar base atop Mt. Horace Greeley in Keweenaw County, the buildings were found to also contain lead-based paint and asbestos. The county is holding the federal government financially responsible for restoring the site to what it was before the base was built.

EAGLE RIVER — There are no new developments regarding the clean-up at the former Air Force radar base in Keweenaw County’s Houghton Township, Ray Chase told the Board of Commissioners at its regular monthly meeting on Jan. 17. Chase is the vice-chair of the Keweenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

“There’s nothing to tell you,” Chase told the board. “We’re still waiting for information. We haven’t heard anything back from the Air Force yet. They were supposed to have a draft for us at the end of the year. We haven’t seen it yet.”

The brownfield authority received a grant of $200,000 from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2009. The purpose was to identify brownfields and to work on remediation.

Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental site assessments were conducted at the former air base, as were sampling and analysis plans, and a cleanup plan was started in 2012, authority chairman Chuck Bennetts said. Some of the results of the assessments were that hazardous substances were found that exceed the limits of the MDEQ and were identified in both groundwater and soil samples.

The presence of lead-based paint was also identified.

Because the brownfield authority maintained the Air Force was responsible for the release of the contaminants, the authority began seeking remediation from the federal government, Bennetts told the board in May, 2017. The USAF had contractors working on the site throughout last summer.

A draft of the results of the testing carried out was supposed to be presented to the brownfield authority by December. 2017, but as Chase said, it hasn’t been forthcoming yet.

“We have a meeting coming up in Feb.,” Chase said, and the authority is pressing the USAF for the draft by the time of the upcoming meeting.

“That’s all I can tell you at this point,” Chase said.