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Current Issues - Depleted Uranium Weapons Tests and Incidents

(last updated 19 Jan 2014)

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Hypervelocity Gun Facility at the Naval Research Laboratory, Chesapeake Beach, Maryland

U.S. NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for License Amendment to Materials License No. 45-23645-01na, To Incorporate the Decommissioning Plan for the Hypervelocity Gun Facility at the Naval Research Laboratory in Chesapeake Beach, MD. The Hypervelocity Gun Facility was used to test the impact of high velocity projectiles on depleted uranium targets. The testing was conducted from the early 1970s until the early 1990s.

Federal Register: January 13, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 8) p. 1710-1712 (download full text external link)


US Army Installation Command requests NRC licence for possession of M101 spotting round

The requested license will authorize the possession of residual quantities of depleted uranium system at US Department of Army Installations.
The initial discovery of depleted uranium from the M101 spotting round was at locations within Hawaii and at Fort Hood, TX. Additional installations where the M101 spotting round has been found include: Fort Benning, GA; Fort Campbell, KY; Fort Carson, CO; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Knox, KY; Fort Lewis, WA; Fort Riley, KS; Schofield Barracks, HI; and Pohakuloa Training Area, HI. Installations currently subject to further investigation include: Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD; Fort Dix, NJ; and Makua Military Reservation, HI. A common characteristic of the sites where the M1 01 spotting round fragments are located is that they are well within the installation boundary and are located in an impact area where access is strictly controlled.
A total of 75,318 M101 spotting rounds were originally produced. Each depleted uranium projectile body weighed about 206 g. Given a composition of 92 percent depleted uranium and 8 percent molybdenum, 190 g of depleted uranium was contained within each round.
This U.S. NRC license application is for authorization to possess and manage depleted uranium present at US Army installations as a result of previous use of depleted uranium. Specific functions to be performed under the license will be limited to radiological surveys as necessary to fully characterize the nature and extent of contamination and, when appropriate, to obtain information necessary to support development of decommissioning plans. Depleted uranium possessed pursuant to this license may also be subjected to disposal by transfer to a properly permitted/licensed disposal facility.

> Download Licence Application Nov. 6, 2008 external link (ADAMS ML090070095)


Decommissioning of DU indoor test range at Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Center, Virginia

Nuclear Regulatory Commission issues Notice of Consideration of Amendment Request for Decommissioning of the Department of the Navy, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, VA and Opportunity To Request a Hearing.
A request for a hearing must be filed by April 20, 2009.
Federal Register: February 17, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 30) p. 7491-7492 (download full text external link)

Nuclear Regulatory Commission issues Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of no Significant Impact for License Amendment to Materials License No. 45-23645-01na, to Incorporate the Decommissioning Plan for the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren, Virginia.
Federal Register: December 18, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 244) p. 77078-77080 (download full text external link)

> Download Decommissioning Assessment for Building 200, Bay 4, DU Indoor Test Range, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren Virginia, Nov. 15, 2006 external link (ADAMS Acc. No. ML063340558)


DU munitions use at Pohakuloa Training Area, Big Island, Hawaii

On Oct. 24, 2013, NRC issued a possession license to the U.S. Army for depleted uranium at its Hawaiian bases. The license allows the Army to possess up to 275 pounds of DU at Schofield Barracks on Oahu and the Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawaii. The license does not authorize the Army to use the DU or decommission the sites without additional review and approval by the NRC.
> Download NRC release Oct. 24, 2013 external link (PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 226 (Friday, November 22, 2013) p. 70077-70078 (download full text external link)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2009-0352 external link

On Sep. 10, 2012, the Army Installation Command submitted to NRC its comments on the draft licence, requesting exemptions from all regulatory burden:

> Download Army Installation Command comment letter, Sep. 10, 2012 external link

On June 28, 2012, NRC issued a draft licence to the U.S. Army Installation Command for the possession of up to 8000 kg of depleted uranium at Schofield Barracks and Pohakuloa Training Area. "Authorized Use: Activities necessary for the possession and management of depleted uranium spotting rounds and fragments as a result of previous use of depleted uranium at US Army installations."
> Download Draft Licence external link

On Nov. 9, 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the final environmental radiation monitoring plan for the depleted uranium radiation control areas at Pohakuloa Training Area.
> Download Environmental Radiation Monitoring Plan for Pohakuloa Training Area Hawaii external link, 9 Nov. 2011 (1.6MB PDF)

On Aug. 31, 2010, the U.S. Army Garrison - Hawaii announced that the results of the Army's recent depleted uranium (DU) Basic Human Health Risk Assessment (BHHRA) for the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) impact area indicate no likely adverse impacts to current and potential future persons working on or living near PTA due to DU present at PTA.
> Download Basic Human Health Risk Assessment external link

By letters dated November 6, 2008, and July 8, 2009, the U.S. Army Installation Command submitted a Source Material License application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), for the Schofield Barracks and Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) sites in Oahu and the Island of Hawaii, Hawaii. This license application is for possession of depleted uranium (DU) due to the potential for residual DU to be at various Army Installations where testing of the M101 Spotting Round has occurred.
A request for a hearing must be filed by October 13, 2009.
Federal Register: August 13, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 155) p. 40855-40857 (download full text external link)
> View NRC news release Aug. 17, 2009 external link

Army: Depleted Uranium Not a Public Risk: The military says a preliminary study has concluded the public isn't at risk from depleted uranium at the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island. The Army conducted the study as part of its licensing application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a site-specific environmental radiation monitoring plan. According to the report, only three pieces of the radioactive material have been found at Pohakuloa and it is thought the remainder, if any, likely fell into the cracks in the lava. The presence of depleted uranium at the training area was confirmed by the Army in 2007. After years of denials of using the material in the islands, the Army also said soldiers training in Hawaii fired 714 spotting rounds containing depleted uranium in the 1960s. (KGMB9 News, July 29, 2009)

> Download: IMCOM Memo to NRC with Enclosures, Site Specific Security and Environmental Radiation Monitoring Plans, July 8, 2009 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML091950280 external link), Enclosure 4: U.S. Army Installation Management Command: Environmental Radiation Monitoring Plan For Depleted Uranium From the M101 Spotting Round For Pohakuloa Training Area, July 2009 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML091950297 external link)

Measurements will be taken at Pohakuloa Training Area: Airborne uranium levels will be measured by an Army contractor at three monitoring stations at Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island over the next 12 months, Col. Howard Killian told the Public Works Committee of the Hawaii County Council on Feb. 3, 2009. (StarBulletin Feb. 4, 2009)

Waiki'i Ranch dust samples show no depleted uranium: Twenty years of accumulated airborne dust was tested for depleted uranium (DU) using a laboratory in England. The NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory is one of the few labs worldwide that is capable of the extremely sensitive testing that can detect small quantities of DU. The amount of DU found in the sample from Waiki'i Ranch was found to be statistically insignificant, and was less than 1/100 the amount of naturally occurring uranium in the sample.
Waiki'i Ranch is 8-10 miles directly downwind from the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA), where spent DU munitions have been found. Because of the close proximity, the residents of Waiki'i Ranch decided to have tests done to determine if they had been, or are being exposed to airborne DU particles. (Reader Submitted, The Honolulu Advertiser, July 14, 2008)

A military contractor confirmed the presence of depleted uranium at the U.S. Army's Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island, the Army said. The Army has said it did not use depleted uranium at the training range. Earlier state tests found radiation levels in the air near the Pohakuloa training range to be "normal." (The International Herald Tribune Aug. 21, 2007)


DU munitions use at Schofield Barracks Firing Range, Oahu, Hawaii

On Oct. 24, 2013, NRC issued a possession license to the U.S. Army for depleted uranium at its Hawaiian bases. The license allows the Army to possess up to 275 pounds of DU at Schofield Barracks on Oahu and the Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawaii. The license does not authorize the Army to use the DU or decommission the sites without additional review and approval by the NRC.
> Download NRC release Oct. 24, 2013 external link (PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 226 (Friday, November 22, 2013) p. 70077-70078 (download full text external link)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2009-0352 external link

On Sep. 10, 2012, the Army Installation Command submitted to NRC its comments on the draft licence, requesting exemptions from all regulatory burden: view here

On June 28, 2012, NRC issued a draft licence to the U.S. Army Installation Command for the possession of up to 8000 kg of depleted uranium at Schofield Barracks and Pohakuloa Training Area: view here

On Feb. 3, 2012, the Army issued a revised Environmental Radiation Monitoring Plan for Schofield Barracks.
> Download Environmental Radiation Monitoring Plan for Schofield Barracks, Wahiawa, Hawaii, Final, Revision I, Feb. 3, 2012 external link (ADAMS Acc. No. ML12053A391)

NRC requests predecisional enforcement conference with Army on unauthorized depleted uranium weapons at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii: "It appears to the NRC that the Army possesses depleted uranium (DU) at multiple Army installations without an NRC license to do so and performed decommissioning at the Army's Schofield Barracks, Hawaii installation without authorization from NRC."
> Download Apparent Violation of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulations and Request for Predecisional Enforcement Conference, EA-10-129 external link, Apr. 5, 2011 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML110660245)

By letters dated November 6, 2008, and July 8, 2009, the U.S. Army Installation Command submitted a Source Material License application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), for the Schofield Barracks and Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) sites in Oahu and the Island of Hawaii, Hawaii. This license application is for possession of depleted uranium (DU) due to the potential for residual DU to be at various Army Installations where testing of the M101 Spotting Round has occurred.
A request for a hearing must be filed by October 13, 2009.
Federal Register: August 13, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 155) p. 40855-40857 (download full text external link)
> View NRC news release Aug. 17, 2009 external link

> Download: IMCOM Memo to NRC with Enclosures, Site Specific Security and Environmental Radiation Monitoring Plans, July 8, 2009 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML091950280 external link), Enclosure 3: U.S. Army Installation Management Command: Environmental Radiation Monitoring Plan For Depleted Uranium From the M101 Spotting Round For Schofield Barracks, July 2009 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML091950292 external link)

The U.S. Army said on Apr. 22, 2008, it found no significant public health threat from depleted uranium used decades ago at firing ranges on Schofield Barracks. The Army used weapons containing depleted uranium in Hawaii in the 1960s. Last fall, the Army took more than 1,400 soil, water and air samples at Schofield. The level for acceptable risk set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is 1 in 10,000. The maximum found at Schofield was 3 in 100,000, Army officials said. "It's well below the EPA and NRC levels. So, we are saying that it is safe," said Howard Takata of the state Department of Health. The panel of experts that weighed in on the independent study concurred. The small amount of DU was found in large fragments, which made it unlikely that the contaminant could be airborne in dust, according to panel members. The Army said records show some 714 rounds containing the radioactive waste were sent to Hawaii. Only about 30 were found at Schofield Barracks firing range. (KITV Apr. 22, 2008)
> Download Final Schofield Barracks Impact Range Baseline Human Health Risk Assessment for Residual Depleted Uranium external link, April 2008 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML090900383)

By letter dated February 26, 2007, the Army informed the NRC on the discovery of depleted uranium contamination at the Schofield Barracks Firing Range, Wahiawa, Hawaii.


Decommissioning of Aerojet Chino Hills ordnance test site, California

Depleted uranium contamination exceeds standard at former Aerojet Chino Hills ordnance test site

In November 2006, Aerojet submitted a report on surface water tests from one of its areas called Upper Area A 12; the depleted uranium levels for this area showed 1,410 parts per billion [micrograms/L], in excess of the applicable 1,300 parts per billion standard. A report filed by Aerojet on the area in 2004 had shown acceptable levels of depleted uranium at 400 parts per billion. (Daily Bulletin Feb. 15, 2007)

[Note: for comparison: the U.S. drinking water standard for uranium is 30 parts per billion.]


Decommissioning of DU firing range at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant (LCAAP), Independence, Missouri

NRC License No. SUC-1380
NRC Docket No. 04008767

Contaminated sand from DU firing range at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant to be sent to Grand View, Idaho, disposal site

On Jan. 19, 2010, the U.S. Army notified the NRC of its plan to dispose of approx. 2,200 short tons of soil and sand containing depleted uranium (DU) in concentrations less than 0.05% by weight from its firing range at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, Independence, Missouri, at the US Ecology Idaho, Inc (USEI) disposal facility near Grand View, Idaho.

Cleanup of DU firing range at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant almost complete

A multimillion dollar environmental cleanup project in eastern Independence that's been decades in the making was met with no public comments Tuesday (July 7) night. About a dozen local, state and federal government officials met at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant at Missouri 7 and 78 and listened to a proposed plan for the plant's Area 10 sand pile cleanup. Overall, the cleanup efforts are complete, though about 765 tons of sand material still needs sorted for potential safety hazards. Throughout five years, the cost for the cleanup totaled $14.7 million.
The removal actions have resulted in residual lead concentrations acceptable for industrial land use and residual depleted uranium concentrations acceptable for unrestricted land use, project manager Dave Wacker said. "The sand pile material has been removed and no longer poses a potential source of contamination to groundwater," Wacker said. The removal, which addressed total lead and depleted uranium in sand and underlying soil, took place between April 2008 and February 2009. (The Examiner, July 8, 2009)

Army wants to dispose of contaminated sand from DU firing range on site rather than ship it offsite

The U.S. Army and environmental and remediation company officials focused on cleanup efforts for a nearly three-acre sand pit, referred to as Area 10, in the eastland uplands portion of the Lake City plant, at Missouri 78 and Missouri 7. Cleanup for Area 10 is slated to begin in April 2008 and conclude in December 2008. Bullets - both test and ammunition to be destroyed - were fired into the sand during the 1960s and 1970s, and later moved from the firing range to the pit.
Previous investigations found the sand contained both lead and depleted uranium from the spent bullets and posed a health hazard, said Barb Duletsky, senior project manager with Cabrera Services external link, the radiological environmental restoration firm in charge of cleanup. A painstaking cleanup plan was proposed that would include packaging and shipping the stabilized, lead-contaminated sand off site.
However, the Army now has another suggestion: It wants to dispose of the processed sand on site and cover it with 6 inches of clean fill material and vegetation. Duletsky said after the sand is processed, it will no longer present a health risk. Further, the sand would meet Missouri standards that prohibit the disposal of radioactive material in state landfills. Burying the processed sand onsite, Duletsky said, would save taxpayers more than $2 million.

The public may view the document titled Area 10 Sand Piles Removal Action Explanation of Significant Differences at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, Building 6, or at the Mid-Continent Public Library (North Independence Branch). Deadline to make a comment about the proposed cleanup changes is Feb. 15, 2008.

NRC authorizes decommissioning of Lake City Army Ammunition Plant DU firing range

On May 10, 2004, NRC issued a 10-year license renewal, authorizing the decommissioning of residual DU-contaminated soil from past DU firing tests. The following cleanup standards are specified for soils:


U.S. Air Force releases draft Environmental Assessment for depleted uranium disposal at Nevada Test Site

> See here


DU munitions use at Otis Air National Guard Base (Massachusetts)

Army contractors found what they believe to be a 20-millimeter depleted uranium round last week.
The round, found at a groundwater cleanup area called Demolition Area 1, was due to be shipped yesterday to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for further analysis.
While Army officials have long insisted depleted uranium was never fired on Camp Edwards, some Upper Cape base activists insist the military didn't always monitor the activities of defense contractors who improved and developed weapons.
Military and environmental officials yesterday were perplexed by the discovery.
(Cape Cod Times June 5, 2004)


DU munitions tests at Yuma Proving Ground (Arizona)

NRC License No. SMB-1411
NRC Docket No. 04008814

Army's Yuma Proving Ground home page external link

The Army holds a license to possess 36 Curies of depleted uranium metal alloy, that is equivalent to approx. 91 metric tonnes of depleted uranium metal.

The King of Arizona (KOFA) firing range is the portion of YPG which is used for testing of depleted uranium (DU) ammunitions.


Decommissioning of DU munitions firing range at Picatinny Arsenal (New Jersey)

NRC License No. SUB-348
NRC Docket No. 04006377

Army's Picatinny Arsenal home page external link

The Army holds a license to possess 11,000 kgs of depleted uranium.

Building 167, Magazine 3018, and Bunker 3030

Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for License Amendments to Byproduct Materials License No. 29-00047-02 and Source Materials License No. SUB-348, for Amendment of the License and Unrestricted Release of the Department of the Army Facilities in Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey

Federal Register: February 29, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 41) p. 11157-11158 (download full text external link)

Building 318

Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for License Amendment to Source Materials License No. Sub-348, for the Unrestricted Release of the Department of the Army, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Building 318 Facility in Picatinny, NJ

Federal Register: October 10, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 195), p. 57602-57604 (download full text external link)

Building 611B

"Building 611B at Picatinny Arsenal is a firing range that has been used for artillery rounds containing depleted uranium (DU). Dust generated from the impact of these DU rounds contaminated the walls of the building, and also escaped to an adjacent building and outside grounds. The building was equipped with a HEPA filter, which is also highly contaminated with DU dust. The DU building is approximately 40 feet [12.2 m] long, and built of sections of 8 ft [2.44 m] inside diameter concrete pipe, with a tiled floor about 4 feet [1.22 m] wide. There are a number of contaminated fixtures such as a sink and a large metal firing stand for the artillery pieces. Decontamination will involve the cleansing of contaminated surfaces, removal of floor tile, and removal of some fixtures in and on the building that cannot be easily decontaminated." (from NRC Memorandum August 29, 2000)
In November 1999, the Army provided a decommissioning plan for Building 611B.

The license (last amended Oct. 21, 2002) contains the following decommissioning standards:

Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for License Amendment to Source Materials License No. Sub-348, for Unrestricted Release of the Department of the Army, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Building 611b Facility in Picatinny, NJ
Federal Register: December 4, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 232) p. 68203-68205 (download full text external link)


DU munitions use at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station (California)

China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station external link
California DTSC: Site-Related Documents external link · Profile Report on China Lake external link

U.S. EPA raises concerns over DU munitions use at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station

Federal Register: February 28, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 40) p. 9651-9652 (download full text external link)
"Environmental Impact Statements and Regulations; Availability of EPA Comments
[...]
Draft EISs
[...]
ERP No. D-USN-K11108-CA Rating EC2, China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, Proposed Military Operational Increases and Implementation of Associated Comprehensive Land Use and Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans, Located on the North and South Ranges, Inyo, Kern and San Bernardino Counties, CA.

Summary: EPA raised environmental concerns about potential impacts associated with past use of munitions containing depleted uranium (DU), potential impacts associated with continued or renewed use of DU munitions under any of the fully-evaluated alternatives, and the Navy's environmental restoration efforts to date for DU contamination. EPA also raised concerns about potential air quality impacts associated with the project's implementation, including emissions of air toxics, which can be potentially reduced with mitigation. [...]"

> See also info on Draft EIS external link


Decommissioning of depleted uranium munitions test area at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida

Materials License No. 42-23539-01AF
NRC Docket No. 030-28641

Eglin Air Force Base Public Homepage external link
Aerial View external link

U.S. NRC issues Notice of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Approval of Decommissioning Plan for depleted uranium ammunition Test Area C-74L at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida

By letter dated June 28, 2005, NRC issued a "Notice of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Approval of Decommissioning Plan for Test Area C-74L at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida".

Federal Register: July 11, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 131) p. 39804-39808 (download full text external link)

 

U.S. NRC to authorize decommissioning of depleted uranium munitions test area at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida

Federal Register: Feb 3, 2003 (Vol. 68, No. 22) p. 5311-5312 (download full notice)
"The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering issuance of a license amendment to Materials License 42-23539-01AF issued to the Department of the Air Force (the licensee), to authorize decommissioning of its Test Area C-74L at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
The licensee currently possesses radioactive material under a master materials license of broad scope. The licensee uses radioactive material for a variety of reasons. On May 24, 2002, the Air Force submitted a Decommissioning Plan (DP) to the NRC and requested approval to begin decommissioning of a site previously used by the Air Force for depleted uranium munitions testing between 1974-1978. The area is known as Test Area C-74L and is located at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The licensee previously conducted limited decommissioning at the site and desires to conduct additional decommissioning with the goal of free-releasing the property for unrestricted use. [...]"
A request for a hearing must be filed within thirty (30) days of February 3, 2003.

Note: Other than stated in the Federal Register Notice, the decommissioning plan and the supporting documents are NOT available on NRC's ADAMS system (as of Feb. 7, 2003).

"By letters dated May 24 and November 1, 2002, the licensee submitted a decommissioning plan (DP) and supplemental information regarding decommissioning of Test Area C-74L at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The area was used for depleted uranium (DU) munitions testing during the 1970’s. The DP indicates that approximately 3200 kg of DU remains at the 4-acre site. This site has been initially classified as a Group 4 decommissioning project per NUREG-1757, Volume 1.
The Air Force proposes the following site specific acceptance criteria in the decommissioning process: (Regional technical assistance request form, January 29, 2003)
Notes: References:

 

ATSDR releases Public Health Assessment on Eglin Air Force Base: No hazard from depleted munitions test area

On January 23, 2003, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released for public comment its public health assessment on the Eglin Air Force Base site, Fort Walton Beach, Florida:
"[...] Physical access to the Isotope Burial Area, Test Area C-64 and Test Area C-74L is restricted by locked gates, fences and security personnel. Because people are not exposed to contaminants at these sites, the areas pose no past, present or future public health hazard."

The public comment period ended February 19, 2003.

ATSDR release Jan. 23, 2003 external link
> View Public Health Assessment, April 11, 2003 external link
Eglin Air Force Base documents at ATSDR external link


U.S. Navy confirms Pacific arms tests use depleted uranium

On Jan. 9, 2003, the U.S. Navy confirmed it uses depleted uranium shells in arms tests off the Washington state coast but rejected criticism that the radioactive ammunition could harm people and the environment: "The DU rounds dissolve so slowly that they would not contribute to naturally occurring (radiation) levels ... and do not pose a significant risk." (Reuters Jan. 9, 2003)


Inadvertent DU ammunition use by the U.S. Navy in Vieques (Puerto Rico)

ATSDR final report dismisses link between cancers and DU ammunition use on Vieques island:
> View ATSDR release Mar. 19, 2013 external link
> Download: An Evaluation of Environmental, Biological, and Health Data from the Island of Vieques, Puerto Rico external link, ATSDR, March 19, 2013

ATSDR report dismisses cancer-Navy link on Vieques: A U.S. agency on Thursday (Dec. 8, 2011) accepted local claims that there is a higher incidence of cancer and other health ills on Vieques island compared with neighboring Puerto Rico, but said there is no proof the problem is linked to U.S. military activity.
The long-awaited preliminary report was widely criticized by Puerto Rican officials and Vieques residents long resentful of health problems that they blame on the Navy, which used the tiny island as a bombing range for six decades. The 361-page report by the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry nearly concludes a federal investigation into health problems on Vieques, but critics said they would continue to fight for those who are ill.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is seeking public comment through March before issuing a final report that would include recommendations for unidentified future work to be done in Vieques. (Guardian Dec. 8, 2011)
The public comment period will end on March 8, 2012.
> View ATSDR release Dec. 8, 2011 external link
> Download ATSDR 2011 Vieques Report: An Evaluation of Environmental, Biological, and Health Data from the Isla of Vieques, Puerto Rico - December 2011 external link
> Access Docket ID CDC-2011-0014 external link

ATSDR is no longer convinced that no health hazards exist from inadvertent DU ammunition use in Vieques: On Nov. 13, 2009, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) signaled its intent to modify some of its earlier conclusions about health risks to residents of the Island of Vieques. "Much has been learned since we first went to Vieques a decade ago, and we have identified gaps in environmental data that could be important in determining health effects" said Dr. Howard Frumkin, agency director. "The gaps we found indicate that we cannot state unequivocally that no health hazards exist in Vieques. We have found reason to pose further questions," Frumkin said.
> View ATSDR release Nov. 13, 2009 external link
> View ATSDR Vieques progress report external link

On Feb. 7, 2005, the U.S. EPA placed the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Area on Vieques on the Superfund National Priorities List.
> View EPA release Feb. 7, 2005 external link
> View Site Narrative external link
> View Federal Register: August 13, 2004 (Vol. 69, No. 156), p.50115 - 50122, Proposed Rule external link
> View Federal Register: February 11, 2005 (Vol. 70, No. 28) p. 7182-7189, Final Rule external link
> Download Support Document for the Revised National Priorities List, Final Rule - February 2005 external link (132k PDF)
> View EPA Region 2 Vieques pages external link

On Sep. 15, 2003, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released its Final Health Assessment on Air Pathway for the Isla de Vieques Bombing Range Site, Vieques, Puerto Rico, finding No Apparent Public Health Hazard:

"Residents of Vieques are not exposed to levels of environmental contamination that could present a public health hazard, whether chemical or radiological, as a result of the Navy's limited past use of depleted uranium penetrators during military training exercises."
> View ATSDR release Sep. 15, 2003 external link

NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending October 6, 2000:

"On September 28, Region II issued a report of the results of environmental surveys for Vieques Island. The surveys were conducted to determine the amount of depleted uranium contained in the sample areas. The report indicated No levels of depleted uranium detected in areas outside the Naval firing range on the Island."

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a news conference in San Juan on October 4, 2000, to discuss the final results of an environmental sampling program aimed at detection of radioactive material at Vieques Island's military areas and the communities of Isabel Segunda and Esperanza. (NRC Press Release, October 2, 2000 external link)

NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending June 16, 2000:

"U. S. Navy - Vieques Island Activities

The U.S. Navy completed three weeks of activities to recover depleted uranium penetrators on the Vieques, Puerto Rico, naval firing range. Approximately 37 penetrators were recovered during this phase. NRC inspectors observed the Navy's recovery activities. The Navy is reviewing these results to determine future options for additional penetrators that may remain in or near the firing range. NRC staff, supported by personnel from the Puerto Rico Department of Health, also obtained environmental samples from locations on the island. The samples are being analyzed for depleted uranium by Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE)." (emphasis added)

NRC Weekly Information Report For the Week Ending March 31, 2000:

"U.S. Navy Master Material License, Vieques, Puerto Rico Navy Firing Range

The Division of Waste Management, NMSS assisted Region II in reviewing the Navy's plan to recover depleted uranium (DU) penetrators on the Vieques, Puerto Rico firing range. The Navy's survey work plan is sufficient to locate and retrieve the penetrators; however is not considered to be a complete decommissioning plan, which would be required for unrestricted release. The NRC's review was provided to the Navy on March 21, 2000. Region II provided a copy of the plan and the NRC's review to the Secretary of Health in Puerto Rico on March 23, 2000."

NRC review of the Navy's "Survey Work Plan for Depleted Uranium (DU) Penetrators, Vieques Naval Target Range, Live Impact Area, Vieques, Puerto Rico" dated March 21, 2000 (available through ADAMS external link, Docket No. 03029462):

"INTRODUCTION

The U.S. Navy notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on March 5, 1999, of an event involving depleted uranium (DU) ammunition. The survey work plan indicates that during a training exercise on February 19, 1999, two U.S. Marine Corps aircraft expended 263 DU rounds at the Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, North Convoy Site. The Navy indicated that a team of Navy health physicists was deployed between March 10 and 19, 1999, and recovered 57 DU rounds. Only a portion of the site was investigated at that time because of unexploded conventional ordinance and dense vegetation. The Navy plans to recover all detectable DU penetrators and conduct a final status survey.
The Navy submitted a Survey Work Plan in December of 1999. The purpose of the plan is to conduct a 100 percent survey of the area and remove all detectable DU rounds. This plan provides the following: (1) a history of the event, (2) a site description, (3) a summary of previous radiological investigations, (4) a summary of health effects associated with DU, and (5) a description of the planned survey methods." (emphasis added)

U.S. NRC Preliminary Notification (PNO-II-00-001, Jan. 14, 2000 external link):

"Subject: Recent Media Reports About Event Involving Depleted Uranium Ammunition

On January 13, 2000, Region II received information from the Radiological Health Division, Puerto Rico Department of Health, on recent media reports regarding depleted uranium (DU) on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico. The articles referred to a February 19, 1999, event in which DU ammunition was inadvertently expended on the Live Impact Area of the Vieques Naval Range. The range is a naval weapons firing range. The NRC was initially informed of the event on March 5, 1999.
The newspaper articles reported that a nuclear engineer had conducted surveys for radiation on the island in the Live Impact Area and identified survey measurements up to 37 milliroentgens in areas where unauthorized individuals are located. The articles also reported this engineer had found radioactive contamination from the DU." [...]

> See also documents released by the Navy external link


Aberdeen Test Center Facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground (Maryland)

Source Material License No. SUB-834
NRC Docket No. 040-07354

Army's Aberdeen Test Center home pageexternal link

 

NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for disposal of DU-contaminated military vehicles at hazardous waste disposal site in Idaho

Issuance of the requested license amendment would authorize the transfer and off-site disposal of two M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles which are contaminated with depleted uranium. The two vehicles would be disposed of at U.S. Ecology, a hazardous waste disposal facility in Idaho. The NRC has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) in support of this proposed action. Based on the EA, the NRC has concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate with respect to the proposed action.
Federal Register: September 13, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 177) p. 54099-54100 (download full text external link)
The corresponding license amendment was issued on Sep. 14, 2006.


Decommissioning of Depleted Uranium Study Area at Aberdeen Proving Ground (Maryland)

Source Material License No. SMB-141
NRC Docket No. 040-06394

Army's Aberdeen Test Center home pageexternal link

 

U.S. NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for unrestricted release of Army Research Laboratory Building 1103A area, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland

> Federal Register: July 25, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 142) p. 44374-44376 (download full text external link)

 

U.S. NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for unrestricted release of Army Research Laboratory Range 14, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering the issuance of a license amendment to Source Materials License No. SMB- 141. This license is held by the Department of the Army, U.S. Army Research, Development And Engineering Command (ARDEC), Army Research Laboratory (ARL) (the Licensee), for its U.S. Army Research Laboratory (the Facility), located at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Issuance of the amendment would authorize release of the R-14 Range for unrestricted use. The Licensee requested this action in a letter dated May 11, 2009. The NRC has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) in support of this proposed action in accordance with the requirements of Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR); Part 51 (10 CFR Part 51). Based on the EA, the NRC has concluded that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) is appropriate with respect to the proposed action. The amendment will be issued to the Licensee following the publication of this FONSI and EA in the Federal Register.

Federal Register: August 19, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 159) p. 41944-41946 (download full text external link)

 

NRC issues Notice of Amendment Request for Decommissioning of the Army Research Laboratory Range 14, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and Opportunity To Request a Hearing

A request for a hearing must be filed by June 9, 2008.

Federal Register: April 9, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 69) p. 19263-19265 (download full text external link)

 

Army submits decommissioning plan for Range 14 depleted uranium hard impact test facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground

On Nov. 6, 2007, the U.S. Army submitted a decommissioning plan for its depleted uranium hard impact test facility ARL Experimental Facility 14 (EF-14) formally known as Range 14 (R-14) at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The facility will be demolished, decontaminated and a new, non-DU facility constructed.

 

NRC issues Environmental Assessment on proposed release of Transonic Range at Aberdeen Proving Ground for unrestricted use

In an Environmental Assessment dated Dec. 7, 2005, NRC finds that the cleanup action performed at the Transonic Range DU munitions test area meets the license termination criteria in Subpart E of 10 CFR Part 20. The area can therefore be released for unrestricted use.

See also: Federal Register: December 14, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 239) p. 74036 (download full text external link)

 

Army proposes DU standard for Aberdeen Proving Ground - Bomb Throwing Device area

Modeling performed for a residential scenario at the former Bomb Throwing Device (BTD) area showed that a Derived Concentration Guideline Level (DCGL) for depleted uranium in soil of 230 pCi/g (= 8.51 Bq/g) is appropriate to meet the 25 mrem per year whole body dose criterion to someone hypothetically living on site for many years. An action level is set at 105 pCi/g (= 3.89 Bq/g); any areas exceeding the action level are investigated and re-surveyed. The same release criteria had already been approved for the Transonic Range.
"Survey results were satisfactory, but are not published by the contractor at this time."
(U.S. Army Garrison, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Derived uranium guidelines for depleted uranium at the BTD soil sample area, Addendum, July 2004)

For depleted uranium with 0.2 weight-percent U-235, 230 pCi/g total DU corresponds to 580 mg/kg, and 105 pCi/g to 265 mg/kg.

 

NRC issues decommissioning license for Aberdeen Proving Ground - Transonic Range

On April 30, 2001, NRC issued a license amendment for the Aberdeen Proving Ground, containing the following condition:
"... the licensee is authorized to proceed with the decontamination and decommissioning of the ARL Transonic Range Facility and to utilize the Derived Concentration Guideline Limit for soil of 230 picocuries per gram total uranium as proposed in the report 'Derived Uranium Guidelines for the Depleted Uranium Study Area of the Transonic Range Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland' dated April 1999 and supplemented by the Conceptual Site Exposure Model submitted with letter dated February 1, 2001." (emphasis added)
For DU (0.2 wt_% U-235), 230 pCi/g (= 8.51 Bq/g) total U corresponds to 580 mg/kg - approx. 200 times typical natural total U background.

 

NRC prepares decommissioning license for Aberdeen Proving Ground - Transonic Range

Federal Register: March 31, 2000 (Vol. 65, No. 63) p. 17321-17322 (download full notice)
"The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering issuance of an amendment to Source Material License No. SMB-141 (SMB-141), issued to the Department of the Army, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground (the licensee), to authorize decommissioning of the Depleted Uranium Study Area (DUSA) of the Transonic Range at their facility in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
On December 15, 1999, the licensee submitted a Decommissioning Plan for the DUSA that summarized the decommissioning activities that will be undertaken to remediate the structures and areas of the surrounding soil at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Some remaining structures and some areas of soil are contaminated with depleted uranium (DU) resulting from licensed operations conducted during the period 1973 to 1979.
The NRC will require the licensee to remediate the DUSA to meet NRC's decommissioning criteria, and during the decommissioning activities, to maintain effluents and doses within NRC requirements and as low as reasonably achievable."
On May 1, 2000, the Aberdeen Proving Ground Superfund Citizens Coalition has filed a request for hearing. On June 20, 2000, Administrative Judge Ivan W. Smith granted an extension of time of thirty days to the Coalition to file an amended request for hearing (ASLBP No. 00-776-04-MLA, available through ADAMS external link).


Decommissioning of DU munitions test area at Jefferson Proving Ground, Madison, Indiana

NRC License No. SUB-1435
NRC Docket No. 40-8838

Army's Jefferson Proving Ground home pageexternal link
See also: Save The Valley Inc., Madison

 

Environmental Report and Decommissioning Plan issued for DU munitions test area at Jefferson Proving Ground, Madison, Indiana

> Download Environmental Report and Decommissinong Plan, August 2013 external link

 

Traces of depleted uranium found in surface water at Jefferson Proving Ground

In November 2011, samples of groundwater, surface water, sediment, and soils were taken at the Jefferson Proving Ground. Traces of depleted uranium were found in three out of eight surface water samples.
> Download Radiation Monitoring Report for License SUB-1435, Jefferson Proving Ground, Summary of Results for November 2011 Sampling Event, Final external link, November 2012 (42.6MB PDF)

 

Army requests extension of time to submit Decommissioning Plan for Jefferson Proving Ground

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received, by letter dated May 2, 2012, a license amendment application from the U.S. Department of the Army for their Jefferson Proving Ground site located in Madison, Indiana, requesting to extend the time for submitting a decommissioning plan by 20 months. License No. SUB-1435 authorizes the licensee to possess depleted uranium resulting from past testing operations. The proposed change is to modify License Condition No. 13 which states that a decommissioning plan will be submitted to the NRC no later than December 31, 2011.
Submit comments by October 29, 2012. Requests for a hearing or leave to intervene must be filed by November 27, 2012.
> Federal Register Volume 77, Number 189 (Friday, September 28, 2012) p. 59680-59682 (download full text external link)
> Access Docket ID NRC-2012-0221 external link

 

Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel: Plan for decommissioning of DU munitions test area at Jefferson Proving Ground taking too long

A panel of federal administrative law judges said a plan for dealing with radioactive depleted uranium at Jefferson Proving Ground is taking too long to get through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Although the Army stopped testing depleted uranium in 1994 at the former proving ground, there still is not a decommissioning plan in place, the panel pointed out.
The Army left about 77 tons of DU projectiles and fragments where they landed in a 2,080-acre area that now is fenced and posted with signs warning of radioactivity.
The administrative law judges, in a memorandum issued June 3, 2008, said the Army is largely to blame for there not being a plan in place and the likelihood that one won't be submitted until 2011. But the blame has to be shared by the NRC staff, which they wrote has "a more than casual attitude ... with regard to the decommissioning of sites on which radioactive materials remain as a potential threat to public health and safety and to the environment." "The inescapable fact remains, however, that, at the very least, the staff has countenanced in that matter a situation that will leave the citizens in the area surrounding the activity site in doubt for close to two decades regarding what measures will ultimately be taken for their protection," the panel wrote.
The panel wrote its criticism in a memorandum to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the slowness of progress to decommission Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp.'s Newfield, N.J., facility. There are similarities in how decommissioning there and at JPG has been handled, the judges said, most especially in how long it is taking. Activity carried on under an NRC license at Shieldalloy ended in 1998. The judges said that at both sites, the long delay "hardly seems consistent" with the intent of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's own regulations. (The Madison Courier June 11, 2008)

Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Memorandum (Bringing Matter of Concern to Commission's Attention), LBP-08-08, June 2, 2008 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML081540188 external link)

 

No depleted uranium detected in deer tissue from DU impact area of Jefferson Proving Ground

"Based on the data presented in Section 3, consumption of deer tissue does not appear to be a potentially significant exposure pathway for DU at JPG. Of the 132 samples analyzed, DU was not detected in any tissue samples. Based on qualitative observation of the data, deer collected within the DU Impact Area did not have total uranium levels or uranium isotopic ratios that differed from either the NHZ [Nearby Hunting Zones] or BHZ [Background Hunting Zones]. If DU uptake were occurring in deer, higher total uranium levels and isotopic ratios greater than 2 would be expected in the deer from the DU Impact Area, where the greatest potential for exposures occur, but the total uranium levels were not elevated and all ratios were lower than 2."
Deer Tissue Sampling Results, Depleted Uranium Impact Area Site Characterization, Jefferson Proving Ground, Madison, Indiana, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, August 2006, 152 p. (ADAMS Accession No. ML062210019 external link)

 

NRC ASLB issues Notice of Opportunity To Make Oral or Written Limited Appearance Statements on Jefferson Proving Ground license amendment

This Atomic Safety and Licensing Board gives notice that, in accordance with 10 CFR 2.315(a), the Board will entertain oral limited appearance statements from members of the public in connection with this proceeding. The session will be held on July 18, 2006.
A written request to make an oral statement must be received by 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 7, 2006.
A written limited appearance statement may be submitted to the Board regarding this proceeding at any time.

Federal Register: June 12, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 112) p. 33776 (download full text external link)

 

Environmental Radiation Monitoring Report finds no depleted uranium in environmental samples at Jefferson Proving Ground

> Download Final Report, Environmental Radiation Monitoring Report for License SUB-1435, Jefferson Proving Ground, Summary of Results for October 17-20, 2005 Sampling Event, May 2006, 214 p. external link (14MB PDF, ADAMS ML061430302)

 

NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Army's alternate decommissioning schedule for Jefferson Proving Ground

"The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff has performed an environmental review of the Department of Army’s (“Army’s” or “licensee’s”) request for an alternate decommissioning schedule for its Jefferson Proving Ground (JPG) facility in Madison, Indiana. The U.S. Army, Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois has oversight of JPG. Army was authorized previously by NRC to use depleted uranium (DU) munitions for military testing. Army has ceased operations at JPG and currently has a possession-only license. Army is requesting a 5-year period to characterize the site and produce and submit a decommissioning plan (DP).
NRC staff has evaluated Army’s request and has developed an environmental assessment (EA) to support the review of Army’s proposed alternate decommissioning schedule, in accordance with the requirements of 10 CFR Part 51. Based on the staff evaluation, the conclusion of the EA is a Finding of No Significant Impact on human health and the environment for the proposed licensing action."
> Download Environmental Assessment Related to Issuance of a License Amendment to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Materials License No. SUB-1435 Department of Army, March 6, 2006 external link
> Federal Register: March 15, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 50) p. 13435 (download full text external link)

 

Army withdraws request for possession-only license for Jefferson Proving Ground DU munitions test area

On July 19, 2005, the Army formally withdrew its request for a 5-year renewable possession-only license for JPG.
Federal Register: August 26, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 165) p. 50423-50424 (download full text external link)

 

NRC issues notice on alternate decommissioning schedule for Jefferson Proving Ground DU munitions test area

On May 25, 2005, the Army submitted to the NRC a "Field Sampling Plan for Depleted Uranium (DU) Impact Area Site Characterization, Jefferson Proving Ground, Indiana" aiming at collecting data required to elaborate a Decommissioning Plan within five years.

Notice of Consideration of Amendment Request for an Alternate Decommissioning Schedule for the Department of the Army, U.S. Army Garrison, Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, IL, and Opportunity To Request a Hearing
A request for a hearing must be filed by August 26, 2005.
Federal Register: June 27, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 122) p. 36964-36966 (download full text external link)

 

Army considers changing JPG plans

The U.S. Army might go back to pursuing decommissioning of Jefferson Proving Ground rather than obtaining a special license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
As part of the possible new approach to its role at JPG, the Army is considering doing limited testing to collect four types of data: How much depleted uranium is there and its concentration; the thickness of the contaminated area; whether and at what rate the armor penetrators made from depleted uranium are dissolving; and the travel routes contaminants could take through groundwater.
For years the Army has said it is too dangerous to enter the depleted-uranium area to remove the DU or to collect data because there are tons of unexploded ordnance there that could blow up at any time.
Now, however, the Army said in a letter (dated Feb. 1, 2005) external link to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it could go in for limited gathering of data. It won’t be the first time the area has been entered. The Save the Valley environmental organization pointed out in November 2003 that Army documents made several references to the Army going into the DU area for various purposes. (Madison Courier Feb. 16, 2005)

 

Depleted uranium no longer a topic for JPG Restoration Advisory Board

Radioactive depleted uranium that the Army left behind at Jefferson Proving Ground won't be discussed anymore by the JPG Restoration Advisory Board. The reason is that DU never should have been a topic for the board because it doesn't fit into the federal government's definition of what can be addressed by restoration advisory boards at closed military bases, board co-chairman Paul Cloud told board members on Feb. 2, 2005. (Madison Courier Feb. 3, 2005)

 

NRC considers possession-only license for Jefferson Proving Ground, deferring cleanup of DU munitions test area indefinitely

Federal Register: October 28, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 208) p. 61471-61472 (download full text external link)

A request for a hearing had to be filed within thirty (30) days of October 28, 2003.

On Nov. 26, 2003, a hearing request was filed by Save The Valley. (Madison Courier, Nov. 29, 2003)

 

NRC staff intends to allow indefinite delay of decommissioning of Jefferson Proving Ground

Further development of the decommissioning plan (DP) for the DU munitions test area would require collection of site-specific data to allow for modeling of the migration of uranium. The collection of such data, however, is currently impossible due to the presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO).
"Amending the existing license for JPG to continue as a possession-only license and delaying further development of the decommissioning plan until validated models can be established appears to be the most prudent course of action. The staff has concluded that under the unique circumstances of this case, where the collection of data to complete the decommissioning plan in itself could create personnel safety hazards, and the licensee -- a federal agency -- is a stable and durable entity that can provide access controls and monitoring in accordance with the Commission’s requirements, extending the requirement to submit a decommissioning plan until the necessary data can be safely collected and models validated could be approved under 10 CFR 40.42(g)(2) as it presents no undue risk from radiation to the public health and safety and is otherwise in the public interest. Given the 5-year renewal period, the staff will be in a position to periodically revisit the need to continue the delay in completing the decommissioning plan."
(SECY-03-0031, March 3, 2003: JEFFERSON PROVING GROUND DECOMMISSIONING STATUS)

 

NRC to approve decommissioning plan for Jefferson Proving Ground

Federal Register, November 14, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 220), Notices, Page 69049-69050 (Download full notice external link):
"The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering issuance of a license amendment to Material License No. SUB-1435 issued to the U.S. Army (the licensee), to authorize decommissioning of its Jefferson Proving Ground (JPG) facility in Madison, Indiana."

Comments with respect to this action should be provided in writing within 30 days of November 14, 2002.
A request for a hearing must be filed within 30 days of November 14, 2002.

 

Army issues Environmental Report and Decommissioning Plan for Jefferson Proving Ground

Decommissioning Plan for License SUB-1435. Jefferson Proving Ground, Madison, Indiana. Prepared for the U.S. Army SBCCOM by SAIC. June 2002.
> Download Part 1 (12.4MB PDF) external link · Part 2 (10.4MB PDF) external link

Environmental Report, Jefferson Proving Ground, Madison, Indiana, U.S. Department of the Army, June 2002
> Download Environmental Report external link (10.5MB PDF)

 

Final decommissioning plan submitted - no DU remediation

By letter dated June 27, 2001, the Department of the Army submitted a License Termination Standard Review Plan for the Jefferson Proving Ground in Madison, Indiana. The plan chooses a restricted use scenario rather than a DU cleanup scenario. Excerpt:
"The restricted use scenario was chosen as the most viable alternative primarily for personnel safety concerns due to the presence of UXO and associated costs for remediation. Further, the cost benefit for dose averted exceeded the cost for DU remediation."
(UXO = unexploded ordnance)
> Download License Termination Standard Review Plan external link

Submission of the supporting Environmental Report was anticipated by the end of October 2001.

 

NRC to issue license amendment for decommissioning

Federal Register, December 16, 1999 (Vol. 64, No. 241), Notices, Page 70294-70295 (Download full notice external link):
"The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering issuance of a license amendment to Materials License No. SUB-1435 issued to the U.S. Army (licensee), to authorize decommissioning of its Jefferson Proving Ground (JPG) site in Madison, Indiana.
From 1941 to 1994, the licensee conducted ordnance testing on the JPG site, and fired more than 24 million rounds of conventional explosive. From 1984 to 1994, the licensee conducted accuracy testing of depleted uranium (DU) tank penetrator rounds at the site. An NRC license was issued to authorize the U.S. Army to use, store, and perform testing of DU munitions at JPG. The DU penetrator rounds vary in size but can be generally described as rods comprised of a DU titanium alloy with a diameter of approximately 2.5 centimeters (cm) (1 inch) and a length as much as 61 cm (2 feet). The DU munitions testing contaminated approximately 5.1 x 106 square meters (m2) (1260 acres) of the site with an estimated 7 x 104 kilograms (1.5 x 105 pounds) of DU. In accordance with the Defense Authorization Amendments and Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-526), the licensee was required to close the JPG base on September 30, 1995. Currently, the licensed material is kept onsite in the restricted area known as the ``Depleted Uranium Impact Area.'' This area under Materials License No. SUB-1435 is located north of the firing line, and consists of approximately 12 x 106 m2 (3,000 acres)."

 


U.S. DoD Proposes Rule on Military Range Assessment

[Federal Register: September 26, 1997 (Volume 62, Number 187)] [Page 50795-50843], download full text external link

Department of Defense
32 CFR Part 178

Closed, Transferred, and Transferring Ranges Containing Military Munitions; Proposed Rule

"SUMMARY: The Department of Defense (DoD) is proposing a rule that identifies a process for evaluating appropriate response actions on closed, transferred, and transferring military ranges. Response actions will address safety, human health, and the environment. This rule contains a five-part process that is not inconsistent with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and is tailored to the special risks posed by military munitions and military ranges. All closed, transferred, and transferring military ranges will be identified. A range assessment will be conducted in which a site-specific accelerated response (various options for protective measures, including monitoring) will be implemented. If these measures are not sufficient, a more detailed site- specific range evaluation will be conducted. Recurring reviews will be conducted, and an administrative close-out phase also is included.

DATES: Written comments on this proposed rule will be accepted until December 26, 1997."

[...]
"6. Depleted Uranium
Depleted uranium (DU) is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment processes. DU is used in the commercial sector by the aircraft industry as counterweights, by the power industry as radiation shielding, and by the military as an armor-piercing projectile due to its hardness, strength, and density. DU's potential radiation exposure is small. As an alpha particle emitter, its radiation does not penetrate human skin or even ordinary paper. DU may be present on closed, transferred, and transferring ranges. DU is regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission."
[...]


Use of Depleted Uranium Rounds at Nellis Air Force Range, Nevada

U.S. Air Force intends to perform an Environmental Assessment for increased depleted uranium use at Nevada Test and Training Range, Nevada

The proposed action would increase the annual use of 30-mm DU rounds in a combat mix (CM) from an existing 9,500 to 22,800 annually. CM contains armor-piercing incendiary (API) DU rounds mixed with high explosive incendiary (HEI) rounds in a 5 to 1 ratio. This would increase the annual use of DU rounds from 7,900 to 19,000 (and HEI rounds from 1,600 to 3,800)

Comments should be submitted no later than March 1, 2006.

Federal Register: January 24, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 15) p. 3825-3826 (download full text external link)

 

U.S. Air Force to bury rather than decontaminate tanks that served as depleted uranium targets at Nellis Range

In a Memorandum for NRC Region IV external link dated 23 June 2004, the Department of the Air Force details plans to bury four US Army tanks (M-47) that were contaminated with DU from A-10 aircraft target practice. The tanks were stored in the "Library" area in Range 63, Target Area 10. Each tank contains "less than 40 GAU-8 30mm Depleted Uranium (DU) rounds". The tanks are to be buried, since "the cost for disposal by burial was determined to be less than attempting to decontaminate them" (!).
The tanks are to be buried at the US Ecology Hazardous Waste Treatment & Disposal Facility Site in Idaho. This is an RCRA hazardous waste disposal facility, which is not licensed to accept radioactive waste. According to the Department, such license is not required, since "These tanks contain < 0.05% by mass of U-238 when averaged over the mass of the tank" (!) and thus are exempt from NRC license requirements.
In an Environmental Assessment dated August 5, 2005, NRC determines that "such disposal would result in doses of less than 0.01 millisievert (1 millirem) per year." NRC concludes that "there are no significant environmental impacts and the license amendment does not warrant the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. Accordingly, it has been determined that a Finding of No Significant Impact is appropriate."

Notice of availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact:
Federal Register: October 25, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 205) p. 61649-61651 (download full text external link)
Also on October 25, 2005, NRC issued a license amendment approving the disposal of the four tanks.

 

U.S. Air Force to remove used depleted uranium targets from Nevada Test and Training Range

The United States Air Force is issuing this Notice of intent (NOI) to announce that it is conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA) to describe the proposed action for removal of used depleted uranium (DU) targets used by A-10 aircraft firing the 30-Millimeter PGU-14/B API Armor Piercing Incendiary round containing sub-caliber high density DU penetrators from the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR).
Comments should be submitted no later than April 20, 2004.

Federal Register: March 8, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 45) p. 10682 (download full text external link)

 

Resumption of Use of Depleted Uranium Rounds at Nellis Air Force Range, Nevada

The United State Air Force is reconstituting Depleted Uranium (DU) air-to-ground training activities at the Nellis Air Force Range in southern Nevada.
The Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, 99th Air Base Wing proposes to resume the employment of 30 millimeter (mm) depleted uranium (DU) armor piercing incendiary rounds on the Nellis Air Force Range.
This is the only remaining air-to-ground gunnery range in the United States licensed for DU use.

A Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) was published in June 1997.

On April 5, 2002, The Air Force announced to resume using depleted uranium rounds in testing and training at a Nevada base. The Air Force had stopped all testing and training with the tank-killing bullets in 1993 because of health and environmental concerns. The Air Force said that several studies showed the rounds are not a health or environmental threat. It said it had completed an environmental study of using the rounds and agreed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that testing and training with the ammunition could resume. (AP Apr. 6, 2002)
> View Air Force Release, April 5, 2002 external link

> For details and an online version of the Draft EA, see RAMA's Depleted Uranium page external link.


Depleted Uranium tests at AEC/DOE Los Alamos Laboratory, New Mexico

"Several explosive testing areas within the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory have used uranium and depleted uranium for several years (personal communication R. W. Drake to G. L. Voelz, 1971). It was estimated that 75000- to 100000-kg uranium were used for tests made during 1949-1970. About 35000- to 45000-kg natural uranium were used during 1949-1954, and 40000- to 55000-kg DU were used during 1955-1970. LASL offers several areas for unique studies that have direct applications to long-term considerations of DU in natural environmental situations. [...]"
from: Ecological Considerations of Depleted Uranium Munitions, by Wayne C. Hanson, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, LA-5559, 1974


United Kingdom   flag


DU munitions tests at Eskmeals firing range in Cumbria (England)

Study confirms elevated depleted uranium concentrations in soil at Eskmeals firing range

The uranium concentrations in samples from within the radiation control zone enclosing VJ Butt were typically higher than those from the Dundrennan Firing Range. Particularly elevated (418,000 mg/kg) concentrations were observed for the Waste Storage A sample. The isotope activity ratios confirmed that the uranium in these soils was predominantly DU.

Assessing depleted uranium (DU) contamination of soil, plants and earthworms at UK weapons testing sites, by Ian W. Oliver, Margaret C. Graham, Angus B. MacKenzie, Robert M. Ellam and John G. Farmer; in: Journal of Environmental Monitoring, Vol. 9 (2007), No. 7, p. 740–748


DU munitions tests at Dundrennan firing range in Kirkcudbright (Scotland)

Protest against DU munitions tests at Dundrennan firing range in Kirkcudbright (Scotland)

Campaigners have held a "mass walk-on" at the Dundrennan range in protest at the test firing of depleted uranium (DU) weapons into the Solway Firth. It was part of an international day of action and followed concerns about serious health issues resulting from the use of such weapons in war zones. The last DU tests at the south of Scotland range were in 2008. (BBC Nov. 6, 2013)

MoD ends test firings of depleted uranium shells in Scotland

Defence ministers have assured MPs a planned weapon-testing programme will use alternatives to depleted uranium (DU). The MoD had been expected to re-start test-firing DU shells at the Dundrennan military range near Kirkcudbright later this year.
Over 30 years, army tanks have fired 6700 shells into the Solway Firth from the range, containing nearly 30 tonnes of DU. Some shells were misfired and contaminated the range. High levels of DU were found in earthworms on the site. Armed forces minister Andrew Robathan has now said the shells "can be tested by firing variants that do not contain DU". Defence minister Philip Dunne has told the House of Commons testing "does not involve the firing of depleted uranium." (Herald Scotland Apr. 28, 2013)

Legality of DU munitions testing at Dundrennan firing range questioned (Scotland)

Concerns have been raised about the legality of weapon testing using depleted uranium in southern Scotland. It follows EU legislation to protect the marine environment which bans the dumping of waste at sea.
Minutes from an internal Ministry of Defence committee - released as part of a Freedom of Information request - note a discussion on the interpretation of the European waste ban treaty. Members concluded that they could avoid breaching the legislation by saying that DU projectiles were "placed" not "dumped" in the sea. This has angered campaigners who argue that by exploiting a loophole, the MoD is able to continue firing nuclear waste into the Solway with impunity. (BBC Mar. 12, 2013)

Survey finds increasing radiation levels from DU munitions testing at Dundrennan firing range (Scotland)

Radioactive pollution of a Scottish military firing range by depleted uranium (DU) has risen to the highest level for more than 10 years, according to a survey for the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Soil on parts of the Kirkcudbright Training Area on the Solway coast is so contaminated that it breaches agreed safety limits. And the contamination is spreading, as DU fragments from shells misfired in the past start to corrode. The contamination, revealed in a declassified scientific report passed to the Sunday Herald, was described as "very worrying" by Scottish environment minister Michael Russell.
Scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down in Wiltshire have been monitoring the Kirkcudbright range every year. A copy of their latest 46-page report, covering 2006, was recently placed in the House of Commons library in London. According to the report, there was DU contamination in soil samples from three sites on the range. The highest registered 1384 millibecquerels of radioactivity per gram, which is worse than the contamination in any of the soil samples taken since comparable monitoring began in 1996. Two samples breached the "investigation level" agreed by the government's Depleted Uranium Firing Environmental Review Committee. Two other samples were above, or close to, the much higher "action level" agreed by the committee. Contamination at India Target on the range was "an order of magnitude higher than results obtained in previous years", said the MoD report. (Sunday Herald Apr. 13, 2008)

MoD resumes DU munitions tests at Dundrennan firing range (Scotland)

The Ministry of Defence is to resume test-firing a limited number of its depleted uranium (DU) tank-killing rounds in Scotland this week to verify the safety of the controversial ammunition. The tests at the Dundrennan range overlooking the Solway Firth will be the first using the radioactive DU rounds since 2001 and will involve a small number of shots against paper targets to avoid the risk of contamination from a toxic dust plume that can result from a direct hit on armour or other solid objects. The trial will be conducted by QinetiQ on behalf of the MoD and is expected to last about two days. The Army fired an average 300 rounds annually at Dundrennan, Kirkcudbright, for 20 years up to 2001 to "prove" samples selected at random from batches of rounds supplied by Royal Ordnance. (The Herald March 11, 2008)

Study confirms elevated depleted uranium concentrations in soil at Dundrennan firing range

Raeberry Gun soil samples showed consistent DU contamination in the immediate vicinity of the firing position, with U concentrations in the range of 20-38 mg/kg and isotope activity ratios often approaching that of DU itself. Contamination levels decreased with distance along the firing line, with Raeberry Gun G site (approximately 38 m from the firing position) having a soil U concentration of 7.5 mg/kg and an isotope ratio reflecting a mix of both DU and natural U. At a distance of 150 m, the Raeberry Bunker soil had an isotopic signature statistically indistinguishable from natural U. Similarly, based on isotope activity ratios, the upwind sites to the west of Raeberry Gun (sites West and Tank) showed no evidence of DU contamination, while sites I and J revealed that significant DU contamination was present both behind and on the downwind side of the firing position.
For Balig Gun samples, soil U concentrations were lower (1.7 to 14 mg/kg), with isotope activity ratios indicating much less DU present.

Assessing depleted uranium (DU) contamination of soil, plants and earthworms at UK weapons testing sites, by Ian W. Oliver, Margaret C. Graham, Angus B. MacKenzie, Robert M. Ellam and John G. Farmer; in: Journal of Environmental Monitoring, Vol. 9 (2007), No. 7, p. 740–748

MoD survey on residual DU contamination at Dundrennan firing range disclosed

According to a leaked MoD survey, over 6500 DU rounds have been fired at the Dundrennan range, near Kirkcudbright over the last 22 years. The shells are meant to pass through shoreline target screens and drop more than two miles out to sea. However, of the DU rounds fired, 79 have broken up in flight, 10 have hit the ground and four hit the target gantry. Sometimes, fragments of malfunctioning DU rounds could be located on the ground and were removed, but others could not be recovered. (Sunday Herald 11 April 2004)

80 protest outside Dundrennan firing range at DU tests

On May 3, 2003, groups opposed to the testing of depleted uranium shells protested outside the Dundrennan range. Over 80 people from across the region were at the rally, which was organised by the Galloway Coalition for Justice and Peace. (Galloway News May 8, 2003)

New tests planned on environmental impacts of DU shells fired into Solway Firth

New tests are set to be carried out to see if there is contamination from depleted uranium shells fired from the Kirkcudbright range. Thousands of the projectiles have been fired into the Solway Firth over the past 20 years and there has been controversy because of the fears of contamination to marine life. For the tests, projectiles will be buried in the Solway and then retrieved for examinations. So far, only one projectile had been recovered from the Solway and although a thorough examination was made, the information gained was limited because it had been fired only five months earlier. (Galloway News Feb. 27, 2003)

UK MOD puts DU shell test on hold

Testing of depleted uranium shells has been halted at the Dundrennan firing range in Kirkcudbright, Scotland. Defence Minister Lewis Moonie said the MoD was satisfied by the quality of the tests on the uranium penetrators - which are used in shells fired by Challenger tanks - and no more are needed. However, he did not rule out that the firing programme - which is only half way through - could be resumed. The MoD insisted that the environmental contamination caused by the shells was negligible as they were fired into a cloth target and there was no known risk to public health. (BBC News July 3, 2001)


Germany   flag


No DU found at site of A-10 aircraft crash in Remscheid, Germany

No depleted uranium was found in soil samples collected in September 2001 at the site of an 1988 crash of an U.S. A-10 aircraft in Remscheid, Germany. (Remscheider General-Anzeiger April 11, 2002)

> View press release of the City of Remscheid external link (April 10, 2002 - in German)
> View NRW State Ministry of Environment press release external link (April 10, 2002 - in German)


DU ammunition incidents in Germany disclosed

On January 19, 2001, the German Minister of Defense presented information in Parliament he had obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense about a series of incidents with inadvertent use of DU ammunition and with DU-armoured tanks involved in fires. The incidents took place at 9 places across Germany in the 1980s.


Italy   flag


Sardinia firing ranges

Italy recognizes 98 deaths of military personnel connected to depleted uranium at Sardinia firing ranges

The President of the Congressional Panel investigating depleted uranium, Rosario Costa has announced that the Italian State has officially recognized 98 deaths of military personnel connected to depleted uranium and foresees compensations worth nine million Euro. The compensations will be allocated to families of the victims, from the end of this year to the first months of 2012. Rosario Costa has been in Sardinia for two days now and is visiting the shooting ranges of Capo Teulada (Sulcis-Iglesiente) and Capo Frasca (Cagliari). (AGI Dec. 15, 2011)


Australia   flag


DU exposure at 1950s British nuclear weapons' tests in Australia

Health tests for all exposed at Maralinga

The Australian Government will conduct a health study of Australian volunteers in the 1950s British nuclear tests after confirming up to eight tonnes of depleted uranium was blasted into the air during the trials. (Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 2001)

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