This website provides the public with information about the Department of Defense Recovered Chemical Warfare Materiel (RCWM) Program. This Program establishes roles and assigns responsibilities for the oversight, coordination, management, and execution of actions involving any known or suspected chemical warfare materiel (CWM) recovered within and outside the United States; however, this website focuses on DoD’s actions to address (cleanup) munitions response sites (MRSs) known or suspected to contain CWM (referred to as CWM sites) on active DoD installations; DoD installations closed as a result of Base Realignment and Closure decisions; or on Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS).
To help protect the public from the potential chemical or explosive risks associated with munitions that may be encountered in the public domain, there are opportunities to get involved with DoD Component efforts to address CWM and chemical agents at MRSs. In addition, DoD has implemented its 3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, Report) Explosives Safety Education Program to inform the public of the actions to take should they encounter or suspect they have encountered a military munition.
3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, Report)
The Army developed the 3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, Report) Explosives Safety Education Program in 2000 to explain what to do if you encounter or suspect you have encountered a munition, including CWM. If you encounter a suspicious item or an object you recognize to be military in nature, follow the 3Rs:
RECOGNIZE — when you may have encountered a munition and that munitions are dangerous.
RETREAT — do not approach, touch, move or disturb it, but carefully leave the area.
REPORT — call 911 and advise the police of what you saw and where.
Report what you encountered, and where it is, and let the experts handle the response. If needed, local officials can request assistance from a military explosive ordnance disposal team.
Educational materials, including items specific to CWM and Chemical Agent Identification Set (CAIS), can be downloaded from the 3Rs portal on the Defense Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Network and Information Exchange (DENIX).
Munitions Response Public Involvement
Opportunities for public involvement are part of the munitions response process. These include involvement at the following points.
Application of the Munitions Response Site Prioritization Protocol (MRSPP)
The DoD Components and the FUDS Program use the MRSPP (Volume 32 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 179) to evaluate each MRS to establish priorities for funding and execution of munitions responses.
The MRSPP consists of three modules to evaluate site conditions associated with explosives, CWM, munitions constituents, and other incidental environmental contaminants. In addition to the relative priority assigned by application of the MRSPP, DoD may consider other factors (e.g., economic factors, including economic considerations pertaining to environmental justice issues, reasonably anticipated future land uses) when sequencing a site for a munitions response.
It is DoD policy to ensure outside agencies, interest groups, and the public are offered opportunities as early as possible and throughout the process to participate in the application of the MRSPP and in making sequencing recommendations. Some examples of agencies or interest groups are:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA);
- Other federal agencies with administrative interest in a particular munitions response site (e.g., the Bureau of Land Management);
- State regulatory agencies;
- Tribal governments;
- Local restoration advisory boards or technical review committees; and
- Affected stakeholders.
To ensure USEPA, other federal agencies, state regulatory agencies, tribal governments, and local government officials are aware of the opportunity to participate in the MRSPP’s application, the responsible DoD Component notifies the heads of these organizations (or their designated point of contact) seeking their involvement prior to beginning prioritization. Documentation of the notification is placed in the Administrative Record and Information Repository for each munitions response site.
Prior to beginning prioritization, the responsible DoD Component publishes an announcement in local community publications requesting information pertinent to the application of the MRSPP or sequencing decisions. This ensures the local community is aware of opportunities to participate in the application of the MRSPP, the sequencing of a MRS for a munitions response, and throughout the munitions response process.
Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS)
The RI/FS phase of a munitions response requires that DoD Components engage in various community relations activities, to the extent practicable, prior to commencing field work. These activities include:
- Conducting interviews with local officials, community residents, public interest groups, or other interested or affected parties to solicit their concerns and information needs and to learn how and when citizens would like to be involved in the response process.
- Preparing a formal community relations plan, based on the community interviews and other relevant information, specifying the community relations activities that the responsible DoD Component expects to undertake during the remedial response. The community relations plan ensures the public has appropriate opportunities for involvement in a wide variety of site-related decisions, including site analysis and characterization, alternatives analysis, and selection of remedy, and has opportunities to learn about the site.
- Establishing at least one local information repository at or near the location of the munitions response. The repository contains copies of items made available to the public.
The DoD Component may also conduct technical discussions with the public.
Preparation of the Proposed Plan and a Decision Document (DD) or Record of Decision (ROD)
This phase also includes an important community involvement element. The Proposed Plan, the first step in the remedy selection process, provides the public a reasonable opportunity to comment on the preferred remedial action and alternative plans under consideration. It must describe the remedial alternatives analyzed, propose a preferred remedial action alternative and summarize the information relied upon to select the preferred alternative. The DoD Component responsible for the munitions response must:
- Publish in a major local newspaper of general circulation a notice of the availability of, and a brief analysis of, the Proposed Plan.
- Ensure the Proposed Plan and supporting analysis and information are available in the administrative record.
- Provide at least a 30 calendar day period for submission of written and oral comments on the Proposed Plan and the supporting analysis and information located in the information repository.
- During the public comment period, provide the opportunity for the public to request a meeting at or near the site. (If a public meeting is requested, and one is held, there must be a transcript of the meeting made available to the public.)
- Prepare a written summary of significant comments, criticisms, and new relevant information submitted during the public comment period and how the DoD Components responded to that information.
Finally, once the DD or ROD is signed, the DoD Component must publish a notice of availability in a major local newspaper of general circulation and make the document available for public inspection and copying at or near the site prior to the commencement of any remedial action.
DoD’s Military Munitions Response Program’s Website provides detailed information about the MMRP.
Restoration Advisory Boards (RAB)
Another means by which DoD provides for community involvement is establishment of a RAB. DoD will establish a RAB where there is sufficient and sustained community interest in working with the DoD Component engaged in environmental restoration at a specific site. 32 CFR Part 202, Restoration Advisory Boards governs the formation, composition, operation, adjournment and dissolution of a RAB. DoD’s Restoration Advisory Board Rule Handbook provides additional information about RABs.
Other Opportunities for Involvement
Many DoD installations require permits under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), or the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These laws provide the public opportunities to review and comment on the permit application. Other laws (e.g., National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)) require DoD to provide an opportunity for the public to provide input about a proposed action that may have economic or environmental impacts.
DoD encourages the public to be involved in these efforts. If you interested in what is happening at a particular installation, and would like to how you can help DoD address issues of concern to the local community, please contact the installation Public Affairs Office.
Share Your Historical Knowledge
If you have information about the disposal of CWM, chemical agent identification sites (CAIS) or chemical agents in the United States, please contact the Department of the Army, Office of Public Affairs Community Relation Division.