Air Force transfers former fuel supply site for redevelopment

  • Published
  • By Eduardo Salinas
  • Air Force Real Property Agency Public Affairs
A former jet fuel supply depot in Michigan once used to supply a nearby Air Force base could soon enjoy new life as part of a waterfront resort development.

Air Force officials transferred the 40-acre Defense Fuel Supply Point Escanaba on the shores of Lake Michigan June 18 to the Hannah Indian Community, a federally recognized Native American tribe based in Hannahville, Mich. 

The property, which the tribe purchased for $10,000, will become part of a larger waterfront development. In addition to the cash payment, the tribe will assume the environmental responsibility to complete the environmental cleanup of the site.

The transfer of DFSP Escanaba is a significant milestone for the Air Force. It marks the first time the Air Force has transferred BRAC property to a party under Section 2905(e) of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990, which allows an agreement to transfer property by deed to any party who agrees to perform all environmental restoration, waste management and environmental compliance obligations for the property.

"The law gives us a flexible option for property disposal," said Katie Halvorson, the director of the Air Force Real Property Agency. "It's another tool we can use to unlock the value of our real property to benefit our warfighters."

DFSP Escanaba, constructed in the late 1950s, stored JP-4 jet fuel transported by tanker barges and piped the fuel to K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Gwinn, Mich. When K. I. Sawyer AFB closed in September 1995 as a result of the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission decision, DFSP Escanaba also closed.

Since then, AFRPA has been responsible for cleaning up environmental contamination at the site and preparing it for transfer and reuse. The agency has removed above-ground storage tanks, excavated contaminated soil and installed cleanup technologies to address soil and groundwater contamination.

"The challenge was to balance the value of the property with the expected cost of finishing the environmental cleanup," said Kate O'Sullivan, the leader of the transaction team that made this deal happen. "We are confident the property is more than ready for redevelopment."

Before the property could be transferred, AFRPA worked with the tribe, local officials and state and federal environmental regulators to work out issues and find common ground. The transaction was also supported by congressional and gubernatorial delegates from Michigan.

"We couldn't have transferred the property without the concurrence of regulators and the support of the tribe and local and federal elected officials," Ms. Halvorson said. 

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