A clean, healthy environment is essential to supporting the Department of the Navy's (DON's) primary mission of maintaining fleet readiness. although past activities have resulted in the release of contaminants into the environment, DON is committed to cleaning up these sites in an effective and efficient manner. To accomplish cleanup, DON's environmental restoration team encourages and supports partnerships among various stakeholders, includeing state and federal regulators, American Indian tribes, and local communities.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), passed in 1980, created the legal mechanism for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Although CERCLA (also known as Superfund) did not apply to military installations, its provisions were adopted by the Department of Defense (DoD) as a model for environmental cleanups by the military components (Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps). Therefore, environmental restoration efforts at DON installations generally followed the process established by CERCLA. The Navy Assessment and Control of Installation Pollutants Program (NACIP) initiated an Inital Assessment Study (IAS) of all DON installations. The IAS preceded what was to become the CERCLA Preliminaty ASsessment (PA) phase. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action requirements and the state-led RCRA Underground Storage Tank (UST) cleanup requirements also may be applied to DON facilities by regulatory agencies.
In 1986, Congress passed the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA), which mandated that DoD follow the same cleanup regulations that apply to private entities. SARA also established the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP). Through the DERP, DoD conducts environmental restoration activities at sites on active installations, installations undergoing Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), and formerly used defense sites (FUDS). The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) provides oversight for the DERP, however each of the military departments is responsible for implementing it. The DON Installation Restoration Program (IRP) was designed to identify and clean up past contamination from hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants in order to protect human health and safety, and the environment at both Navy and Marine Corps installations. The IRP combines aggressive policies, technical training, innovative technologies, partnering with stakeholder, and proactive, dedicated personnel to clean up past contaminateion on progerty under Navy and Marine Corps stewardship.
As part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 Defense Authorization Act, Congress mandated that DoD and the military components develop a program to address military munitions as part of the DERP. DoD responded by developing a unique program element under DERP to address the explosive safety hazards associated with munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) and the human health and environmental risks associated with munitions constituents (MC). The goals of the DoD Military Munitions Response Program are to:
- Reduce risk to people wand the environment from the hazards assoicated with munitions and munitions constituents
- Conduct munitions responses to allow land reuse
- Complete all IRPO requirements associated with munitions constituents.
The ER Program has been organized into three program categories:
- Installation Restoration Program (IRP) - The IRP addresses releases of hazardous subtances, pollutants, or contaminants that pose toxicological risks to human health or the environment. There are approximateldy 4,800 IRP sites at DON active and BRAC installations.
- Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP) - The MMRP addresses environmental health and safety hazards from unexploded ordnance (UXO), discarded military munitions, and munitions constituents. Incidental to hazardous waste remediation, a liminted number of hazards associated with military minitions were addressed under the IRP. DoD created the MMRP to more thoroughly address potential hazards remaining from its past use of military munitions. DON referes to its program as the Munitions Repsonse Program (MRP). There are approximately 230 MRP sites at DON active and BRAC installations.
- Building Demonlition/Debris Removal - This category provides for the demolition and removal of unsafe buildings or structures. DON conducted these in the past but the current and projected DON plan has no funds budgeted for this category.DoD approval is required prior to proceediing in this category.
Collectively, these program categories address the different kinds of contamints likely to impact active and BRAC installations.