Military Munitions/Unexploded Ordnance


Historically, millions of acres of former munitions ranges were transferred from the military to be used for other purposes. These properties are formerly used defense sites (FUDS) or property transferred by the past five rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) (i.e., 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2005). The Department of Defense (DoD) is currently working to further define the inventory of sites and acreage that are potentially contaminated with military munitions and to prioritize these sites for cleanup. Environmental regulators overseeing response actions dealing with military munitions have an independent authority and/or responsibility to evaluate the public safety and environmental aspects of these response actions.

While some sites are fairly small, others may cover dozens or even hundreds of square miles in area. Ranges or other sites contaminated with military munitions may potentially have soil, ground water and surface water contamination from munitions residues (including explosives and heavy metals, and at a small number of sites, chemical warfare agents or depleted uranium). These residues may derive from partially detonated and decomposing ordnance and explosives from training activities, flares, smoke grenades, open burning and open detonation disposal activities, munitions burial sites, weapons testing or other military activities. Of course, the potential for premature detonation of the munitions is generally the principal concern during initial response actions.

Fatalities and severe injuries have resulted from citizens accidentally exposed to military munitions or from people deliberately removing military munitions for souvenirs or other use. A number of chemical exposures with associated health effects have also been reported, some related to chemical warfare agents.

For more information, please contact:
Doug Maddox
Phone: (202) 564-0553 

EPA Munitions Policy and Guidance