Formerly Used Defense Sites Program

Workers use advanced geophysical classification to identify unexploded ordnances as part of the Time Critical Removal Action on Culebra Island in Puerto Rico. Advanced geophysical classification uses the natural properties of a buried metal to determine if the object is a target of interest. It will reduce the overall time and cost of remediation activities within the Formerly Used Defense Sites program. (Photo courtesy of HydroGeoLogic Inc.)

During the past two centuries, the Department of Defense (DOD) has used land throughout the United States to both train Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines, and test new weapons to ensure the nation's military readiness. As training and testing needs changed, DOD obtained property or returned it to private or public uses.

Today, DOD is responsible for the environmental restoration (cleanup) of properties that were formerly owned by, leased to or otherwise possessed by the United States and under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Defense prior to October 1986. Such properties are known as Formerly Used Defense Sites or FUDS. The U.S. Army is DOD’s lead agent for the FUDS Program. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers executes the FUDS Program on behalf of the U.S. Army and DOD. The U.S. Army and DOD are dedicated to protecting human health and the environment by investigating and, if required, cleaning up potential contamination or munitions that may remain on these properties from past DOD activities.

The scope and magnitude of the FUDS Program are significant, with more than 10,000 properties that have been evaluated to be included in the FUDS Program.  Information about the origin and extent of contamination or munitions, land transfer issues, past and present property ownership, applicable laws and DOD policies must be evaluated before DOD considers a property eligible for Defense Environment Restoration Account funding under the FUDS Program. Environmental cleanup at FUDS properties is conducted under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

As of Sept. 30, 2021, approximately 5,400 FUDS nationwide have been identified for investigation and cleanup. Of these sites, cleanup has been completed on 3,800 sites, leaving approximately 1,600 sites identified where cleanup actions still require a CERCLA response. A single property may have more than one cleanup project. The type of cleanup required varies from property to property, and can include cleaning up hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste sites; removing munitions and explosives of concern and munitions constituents; or doing building demolition and debris removal if the building or structure was unsafe at the time of transfer.

In accordance with DOD Instruction 4715.07 Defense Environmental Restoration Program and DOD Interim Risk Management (IRM) procedures, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is implementing IRM by conducting a Notification and Safety Education initiative at FUDS where investigations, removal actions or remedial actions are not planned to be conducted for an extended period of time.

Safety is a Priority

Follow the 3Rs of Explosives Safety if you suspect you may have come across a military munition.

Click to view the Unexploded Ordnance Safety page of the DENIX Web site

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 you saw it.