Throughout history, our ability to maintain a well-trained military force has required the use of military munitions in live-fire training and testing. This use has often resulted in the presence of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) in areas currently or formerly used for military training purposes.
The Army has established a number of programs to address the full range of UXO issues, from detection to remediation to long-term monitoring. The DoD recognizes its responsibility to protect the public from the potential hazards associated with military operations, both past and present. This is particularly true with regard DoD's use of military munitions in training and testing.
To address munitions-related issues and the potential hazards munitions pose on property that the DoD once used, DoD developed the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP). The MMRP is defined as identification, investigation, and remedial actions, or a combination of removal and remedial actions to address Munitions and Explosives of Concern (MEC) or Munitions Constituents (MC). This may include the removal of foreign military munitions if it is incidental to the response addressing DoD military munitions at a FUDS property.
Once a property has been determined to be eligible for the FUDS program and munitions has been identified as a possible hazard on the property, an investigation will be initiated to assess whether a munitions hazard is present on the property. There are several technologies available to conduct this work. Advanced technology metal detectors are used to scan the property. If an item creates an image on the metal detector that appears to be a suspicious item, it will be flagged by the field team. A number of the items will be exposed during the investigation to compare the results from the metal detector to the item detected. If the item exposed is an ordnance item, the team will dispose of the item, usually by detonation.
Field Work Before Detonation After Detonation
Once the investigation is complete, the results will be assessed and areas requiring an ordnance removal action will be identified. The removal actions will be completed with the highest risk site first and continuing in order of risk. Removal actions are completed in similar fashion as the investigation except that the field team will cover 100% of the area identified to be of risk and dig 100% of the items identified by the advanced metal detector to be possible ordnance or ordnance material. Live items are disposed of by detonation; munitions debris is consolidated and removed from the property.
In an effort to enhance safety for contractors conducting work on MMRP sites and to increase data quality, thereby improving remedial action results, the Army actively assesses innovative technologies for completing the work on these sites. Robotic devices for completing the geophysical work have been developed and used very successfully. A robotic brush clearing device is currently under construction for use on FUDS sites, reducing the risk to the lead crew in situations where heavy brush hampers the geophysical. Other projects are under way for investigating underwater munitions sites.