The Munitions Response Program (MRP) seeks to identify and respond to munitions and explosives of concern (MEC), material potentially presenting an explosive hazard (MPPEH), and munitions constituents (MC) that present a hazard and/or risk to human health and the environment. Munitions response (MR) actions are conducted following established safety and quality protocols in order to mitigate unacceptable hazards and/or risks.
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A munitions response site (MRS) is defined as a discrete location that is known to require a MR action. MEC is defined as unexploded ordnance (UXO), discarded munitions material (DMM), and MC present in high enough concentrations to pose an explosive hazard. MC in lower concentrations is not considered MEC. MPPEH is defined as material that, prior to determination of its explosives safety status, potentially contains explosives or munitions (e.g., munitions containers and packaging material; munitions debris remaining after munitions use, demilitarization, or disposal; and range-related debris); or potentially contains a high enough concentration of explosives such that the material presents an explosive hazard (e.g., equipment, drainage systems, holding tanks, piping, or ventilation ducts that were associated with munitions production, demilitarization, or disposal operations). More information on the cleanup of MEC, MPPEH, and MCs under the MRP can be found in Chapter 12 of the Department of the Navy (DON) Environmental Restoration Program Manual (2018). The Manual describes specific differences in the investigative and response actions at MRSs compared to traditional chemical contamination sites.
The conduct of response actions where MEC/MPPEH are involved require adherence to explosives safety standards to protect personnel and real property. These policies are developed, monitored and distributed through the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board (DDESB). The Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity (NOSSA) and Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) are responsible for implementation of these policies with the Navy and Marine Corps, respectively. Explosives safety for MEC projects is enforced through the preparation and adherence to an Explosives Safety Submittal (ESS). More information on ESS requirements can be found in Chapter 12 of the Department of the Navy (DON) Environmental Restoration Program Manual (2018).
Detection, Removal, and Treatment Technologies
The detection, removal, and treatment of MEC/MPPEH requires the use of specialized technologies for terrestrial and underwater sites. For terrestrial sites, there is a broad range of commercially-available instruments, as well advanced geophysical classification (AGC) technologies capable of distinguishing between MEC/MPPEH and non-munitions materials such as scrap metal. Terrestrial detection technologies generally fall into two categories, analog and digital. Analog methods rely on the operator to manually observe, interpret, and report instrument output. Analog methods are susceptible to multiple points of error and the results are difficult to review for quality assurance (QA)/quality control (QC) purposes. Analog methods should only be used when no other viable alternative exists (e.g., surface sweep during site preparation or steep/inaccessible slopes). Digital methods utilize geo-referenced recording techniques that rely on automated systems for observation, interpretation, and reporting of instrument output. QA/QC of digital methods lends itself to the generation of transparent and traceable data products, which can be compared to established standards of quality. Click here to view a list of detection technologies and remedial options/technologies applicable to terrestrial MRSs. More information on AGC can be found in the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC) Geophysical Classification for Munitions Response. To ensure data quality, an accredited contractor must be used (see DoD Advanced Geophysical Classification (AGC) Accreditation Program). Compared to terrestrial technologies which are fairly mature, underwater detection is still evolving. Click here to view a list of detection and remedial options/technologies applicable to underwater MRSs. More technology-related information can be found in in Chapter 12 of the DON Environmental Restoration Program Manual.
The MRP follows the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) process. However, there are some unique aspects when addressing MEC/MPPEH. NAVFAC has prepared a series of statement of work templates for key phases in the CERCLA process including the Preliminary Assessment (PA), Site Inspection (SI), Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS), as well as Removal Actions. More information on key considerations at MRSs for each CERCLA phase can be found in in Chapter 12 of the DON Environmental Restoration Program Manual.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control
QA/QC programs help to ensure work is being performed to a high standard to ensure that hazards and/or risks from MEC/MPPEH are being abated. QA/QC programs for MR actions are implemented through Quality Assurance Program Plans (QAPPs) and Quality Assessment Surveillance Plans (QASPs). A Quality Assessment program is designed to be independent of the contractor or agency executing the response action and is intended to objectively verify the adequacy of the contractor’s QC and response actions. NAVFAC's Statement of Work Template for Quality Assessment at a MRS is available for more information. In addition, NAVFAC has developed a Munitions Response Quality Assessment Spreadsheet to support these activities.