Army Environmental Cleanup Program operating heavy equipment

  • What is it?

    The Army’s Environmental Restoration Program, more commonly called the Army Cleanup Program, addresses hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants and military munitions resulting from past activities at active Army installations. Its mission, along with protecting human health and the environment, is to enable readiness by returning Army lands to usable condition. The Cleanup Program accomplishes this by performing appropriate, cost-effective remediation of contaminated sites.

    The U.S. Army Environmental Command manages the Army Cleanup Program, which is executed under two programs:

    • The Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) established by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 1986 ensures compliance with applicable federal and state environmental regulations at installations located in the United States and its territories.
    • The Compliance Cleanup (CC) Program addresses closure and post-closure care of permitted units (e.g., landfills, open burn/open detonation areas) and overseas cleanup.

    The Army’s Installation Restoration Program (IRP) and the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP) are the two active-installation cleanup programs funded under DERP.

    The IRP, established in 1975, identifies, investigates and cleans up contamination posing environmental and health and safety risks at or migrating from active Army installations. Since Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, the IRP also includes certain compliance cleanup, such as corrective actions under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

    The DoD established the MMRP in 2001 to address potential risks to human health and the environment from explosives including unexploded ordinance (UXO), discarded military munitions (DMM), or munitions constituent (MC), on non-operational ranges at current and former defense sites.

    The Army’s CC Program covers environmental restoration of Army lands that are not eligible for DERP funding. These primarily include remediation at overseas installations, along with actions at U.S. installations mandated under a federal or state law, including landfill- or above- or underground-storage-tank related actions.

  • What has the Army done?

    Of the total 12673 remediation sites identified by the Army Cleanup Program to date, 11381 (90 percent) are in Response Complete (RC) status. Work is ongoing at 1292 remaining sites.

    The Army conducts environmental remediation in accordance with the provisions of DERP, CERCLA and RCRA. In order to have a common framework for managing a national cleanup program, the Army uses CERCLA as the primary legislative authority. Under DERP guidance the Army Cleanup Program prioritized remediation sites into high, medium, and low priority categories primarily based on relative risk. Risk is evaluated using: the contaminant hazard factor (i.e., the types of contaminants present and how hazardous they are); the migration pathway factor (whether the contaminants are moving, and in what direction); and the receptor factor (potential of humans or plants/animals to be exposed to the contaminants).

    In April 2003, the Army unified environmental restoration and compliance-related cleanup under a single Army Environmental Cleanup Strategy, to optimize program efficiency, accountability and the Army measures cleanup progress against two milestones: Remedy in Place (RIP) - when remediation systems are constructed and operational; and RC - when remedial action (other than remedy monitoring) is complete.

    The Army publishes annual Installation Action Plans (IAPs) for each installation with an active environmental restoration program. The IAPs outline the total integrated multi-year approach to achieving an installation’s cleanup goals and describes the active restoration sites, their current status and planned cleanup/exit strategies. IAPs are the key planning document in the management and execution of the restoration programs.

    In addition, the DoD annually submits a report to Congress on its Defense Environmental Programs including the current status of the Army’s cleanup program. The report describes the DoD's past year’s accomplishments including the number and percentage of sites reaching RIP and RC, as well as sites still awaiting cleanup.

    As part of DERP and CERCLA guidance, the Army actively informs and involves the public in the cleanup process through a variety of outreach efforts outlined in a Community Involvement Plan (CIP) developed for each installation’s restoration program. Activities outlined in the CIP, including public meetings, notices and comment periods, fact sheets, mailings and media releases, as well as formal Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs), give local citizens and other stakeholders the opportunity to learn about and have input into the restoration process.

  • What does the Army have planned?

    The Army continues to follow DERP guidance and the Army Environmental Cleanup Strategy in identifying, investigating, and remediating risks from substances and practices previously used in Army operations. The Army is committed to correcting contamination posing an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare, or the environment and to restoring Army land to usable condition to enable training, readiness and mission accomplishment.

    Each year, the Army publishes a Program Management Plan, documenting its environmental restoration goals for the following fiscal year. Along with IAPs, the Program Management Plan outlines the course of action for accomplishing efficient and cost effective remediation of Army lands and neighboring communities. The Army’s goal is for 95 percent of its IRP and MMRP sites to be at RC by the end of Fiscal Year 2023.

    Through its public outreach efforts, the Army keeps communities informed and involved in its restoration activities, and provides opportunities for input into the cleanup process.

  • Why is this important?

    Though considered safe at the time, some past practices and substances formerly used on Army installations may pose a potential risk to human health and the environment. Environmental investigations identified thousands of sites on installations Army-wide as potential sources of soil, sediment and surface- or ground-water contamination and explosives hazards. IRP, MMRP and CC sites must be properly addressed to remove or prevent risk and to restore Army lands to usable condition. The Army is committed to addressing any such site that poses a risk to human health and the environment. This frees previously restricted land for other uses, most importantly training our Soldiers. In addition, failure to address these risks may result in restrictions and financial penalties that can impact training, readiness and mission accomplishment.

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