FUDS Frequently Asked Questions

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 What is the FUDS program?

The Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) Program cleans up environmental contamination at properties formerly owned, leased, possessed, or used by the military services (Army, Navy, Air Force, or other Defense agencies).  The Army is the Department of Defense executive agent for FUDS, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for carrying out the program.

 Who runs the FUDS program?

The Department of Defense is responsible for cleaning up DoD-generated contamination on FUDS properties. The Army oversees the program for DoD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the cleanup at these properties. Actual cleanup is accomplished by Corps geographic districts. Cleanup is performed in consultation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental and health offices.

 How does it differ from the cleanup program on active installations?

Although the FUDS program is part of the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) and cleans up properties in accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) as amended and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Contingency Plan (NCP), it differs from the environmental cleanup program at active military installations in several ways. The Department of Defense no longer owns FUDS properties as it does at active installations, nor does it have a long-term presence. There is no installation commander per se at a FUDS property, although the commander of the Corps of Engineers District doing the cleanup work serves as a de factor installation commander. The Defense Department also doesn’t control the land use of FUDS properties. The FUDS program cleans up only DoD-generated eligible contamination, which occurred before the transfer of the property to private owners or federal, state or local governments. The FUDS program also does not certify that the property is clean, particularly where contamination may be present as the result of actions of parties other than DoD.

The FUDS program is not part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program, nor is it part of the DoD Installation Restoration Program or the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program.

 What kinds of projects are found at FUDS properties?
What kinds of projects are found at FUDS properties?
  • Hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste (HTRW);
  • Building demolition and/or debris removal (BD/DR);
  • Military munitions response program (MMRP);
  • Containerized hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste (CON/HTRW), such as underground storage tanks; and,
  • Principal responsible party actions (PRP), which involves defense of government interests or cost recovery on behalf of the government associated with CERCLA contamination requiring cleanup on a FUDS property.
 Are these only Army sites?

No, the program covers property that was once used by any military service prior to October 1986, when the program was established.

 How is FUDS funding set?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submits a FUDS budget recommendation to the Department of Army, which submits it to the Department of Defense for consideration as part of the Defense Department’s annual budget proposal presented by the President to Congress.

 How many FUDS properties are there nationwide?

Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) are properties within the United States that were transferred from Department of Defense (DOD) control prior to October 1986. More than 10,000 properties were evaluated for inclusion in the FUDS program, with approximately 7,100 properties determined to be eligible. It is important to note that not all FUDS properties have DOD contamination. Of those 7,100 eligible properties, an estimated 2,700 properties were identified as having suspected DOD issues and are being addressed under the FUDS program. 

 How is FUDS cleanup funding prioritized?

Our cleanup work is prioritized by using a risk management approach, those properties posing the highest and most imminent risk to human health, safety and the environment are addressed first.  DoD focuses on actions that reduce risks in the short-term and then addresses longer-term risk management actions. 

For the Installation Restoration Program (IRP) that deal with hazardous waste sites, sites are categorized as High, Medium, or Low relative risk, based on the degree of contamination, whether the contamination is migrating, and whether a receptor is available. 

For the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP) that deals with munitions and explosives of concern (MEC), DoD developed a Munitions Response Site Prioritization Protocol (MRSPP) in conjunction with EPA and many other stakeholders.  Sites are scored based on types of munitions or constituents at the site, receptors, and the likelihood that receptors will come in contact with MEC.

As funds become available to clean up IRP and MMRP sites, other factors may affect the sequence in which work is scheduled.  Concerns by stakeholders are certainly factors that could influence a decision maker, moving one site ahead of another as DoD employs its risk management approach.

Remember, these properties are no longer controlled by the Department of Defense and range from privately owned businesses and private homes to national parks.

 How long do you think it will take to clean up these properties?

Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) properties range from less than an acre to hundreds of thousands of acres and can be found in industrial or residential areas as well as on federal, tribal or state properties. Additionally, an eligible FUDS property may have more than one project. Current estimates indicate that it could take many decades to clean up FUDS properties due to the complexity of the contamination and cost of cleanup methods used. Based on the number of projects remaining for cleanup, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) estimates it will cost approximately $11 billion to complete those sites. Congressional appropriations for USACE to execute the FUDS program have averaged around $250 million  per year.

 Why does it take so long?

The cleanup process is clearly laid out in regulations and law.  It is a multi-step process with many community, state and federal partners that involves identification, investigation, clean up and, in some cases, long-term maintenance.  Extracting contaminants from the environment, soil or groundwater, can be very complicated. Depending on the type of site, population, topography, community interests, etc., there can be many factors to consider and integrate into a final agreed upon solution.  There are many properties within the FUDS program and a limited budget, so our work must be prioritized and budgeted for over time.

 Why are tax dollars being spent to clean up private property?

During the past several decades our Nation has come to realize the link between protecting our environment and protecting the health and well being of its citizens.  Through the passage of numerous laws, all of us are required to not only clean up our former activities, but to prevent pollution in the future.  The FUDS program addresses the requirement under law to correct our past actions.  The Department of Defense is committed to and takes responsibility for correcting environmental damage caused by its past activities.

 Does FUDS include BRAC sites?

No, the Base Realignment and Closure program is a separate program.  The FUDS program only encompasses those properties that left DoD control prior to October 1986.  The BRAC program encompasses military installations identified for closure or realignment in a series of special legislation since 1988.

 How do you decide which sites get cleaned up first? And who makes that decision?

The Corps does its cleanup work at FUDS properties on a prioritized basis – the highest risk sites are cleaned first. The Corps uses ratings of relative risk to human health, human safety and the environment for its projects, along with other management factors, such as stakeholder concerns, in prioritizing its projects. The Army makes the decision as to which sites are cleaned up first, considering input from regulators and other stakeholders. All Corps work is based on a Department of the Army approved workplan developed at the beginning of each fiscal year.

 I understand that the Corps is not in the business of zoning, but your level of cleanup will determine a property’s ultimate use. How do you determine the level of cleanup?

There is strong interest within the Department of Defense and the Army to not allow environmental contamination to be an impediment to local developers. It is the DoD and FUDS program policy that locally approved planned land use is considered in the final remedy selection process. However, once a final remedy is selected and finalized, if the land use changes and additional cleanup is required to meet the needs of the new land use requirement, then that responsibility rests with the local landowner.

 How do you protect the public from hazards at sites where you are not currently doing work?

The FUDS program works with our community, state, tribal and federal partners to select the proper course of action, which may include number of methods to protect the public from hazards such as public awareness/education campaigns to warn the public about possible hazards and precautions they should take. Often there are land-use restrictions that were written into deeds when the property was transferred. The Corps also uses fencing and signage, where appropriate, to warn the public of possible hazards. The goal is to either remove the danger itself or to keep people away from the danger until a final remedy can be implemented.

 How can I find out where FUDS properties are located?

You can go to the FUDS Web site – www.fuds.mil   You also can contact your local Corps of Engineers district office.

 How can I find out if property was used or owned by the military?

Previous military ownership is usually identified in a title search. You can also contact the closest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district office to your property and give them the location. You can also check out the FUDS Portal and FUDS GIS for information on FUDS properties in your state or county. Visit www.fuds.mil for more information.

 Do you know where all the FUDS properties are?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made extensive efforts to develop its Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) inventory based on historical records, military service, stakeholder and regulator input and other sources. Potential new FUDS projects are identified and added to the inventory. More than 10,000 properties were evaluated for inclusion in the FUDS program, with approximately 7,100 properties deemed to be eligible. It is important to note that not all FUDS properties have Department of Defense (DOD) contamination. Of those 7,100 eligible properties, an estimated 2,700 properties were identified as having suspected DOD issues and are being addressed under the FUDS program.

 When you are finished, can you guarantee that my neighborhood/property is clean?

While tremendous progress in technologies and techniques addressing environmental contamination have been made throughout the years, there is, as yet, no method that will provide a 100 percent certainty that all environmental concerns are discovered and can be completely addressed.

The Corps does everything it can to ensure that when its work is complete, human health and the environment are protected.  Independent regulatory agencies provide oversight to the Corps work, and the community is an important stakeholder in the process.  It should be noted that the Corps will return to a site to investigate information that may indicate that its work there is not yet complete.

There may be instances where a property has environmental concerns, which are the responsibility of other parties.  In those circumstances, the Corps may be limited by law to only spending taxpayer dollars to address the contamination caused by the Department of Defense.  Others may have to complete further environmental response actions at the property to address their responsibilities.

While there can be no guarantee, the Corps is committed to completing a protective professional response action with the highest confidence level that can reasonably be achieved.

 Will the government buy this property back?

The purpose of the Defense Environmental Restoration Program is to carry out a program of environmental restoration.  This generally would not include the purchase of property.  The property being addressed under the Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) Program has been released from Department of Defense service.  Although DoD may no longer be using it, the Corps has the responsibility to address environmental concerns that remain at the property as a result of DoD’s former activities. The FUDS Program meets this responsibility by cleaning up the contamination rather than purchasing the land again as the government would still have to clean the land.

 What about property values?

The Corps is not authorized to study property values associated with FUDS properties, although in some cases, by cleaning up the contamination or investigating a property and finding that it does not require a response action, property values may benefit.

 Do you clean up the entire property at the same time? Why not?

That depends entirely on a number of different factors. Because there can be several projects on a given property and because the program is designed to clean up the areas of greatest risk first, there may be times when several different projects on the same property are being funded during different fiscal years.  Another factor may be if there are several different parties that contributed to the contamination.

 Who oversees the Corps in this cleanup effort?

The Corps is responsible for cleaning up the sites under the direction of the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense. There also are lead regulators for each FUDS property, either the state government or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Corps works with all parties, including the affected public, to ensure that the cleanups are being conducted in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.

 What is a right of entry document and why should I sign it?

A right of entry is a legal form that gives the Corps and its contractors permission to go onto your property for specific purposes, such as testing or conducting clean up actions.  By signing this agreement, the landowner protects his/her rights and establishes the limits and responsibilities of the Corps for its actions.

 What happens if I don’t sign it?

If there is a known or suspected threat to human health or the environment, the matter may be turned over to a regulatory agency or the U.S. Department of Justice.  In such circumstances, it is very important to gain access to a property to assess the situation and preclude migration of contaminants that pose a threat to public health or may cause environmental damage.  The Corps makes every effort to work with the landowner so there is as little disruption as possible.

 What happens if I sign the right of entry and then change my mind?

The first thing a property owner should do in that case would be to contact the Corps District office doing the work to see if something can be worked out. The right of entry is a legal agreement upon which the Corps and the landowner rely, and it’s important that as taxpayer dollars are spent, both parties live up to their agreement. The Corps is committed to trying to resolve these types of problems as quickly as possible.

 Do I have to be home to let the Corps on my property?

Not necessarily. If the work to be performed is in an easily accessible area or if prior arrangements are made then it would not be necessary for the property owner or resident to be present.  However, if you want work done only when you are present, arrangements can be made. Sometimes, though, because of the nature of the work being done and for safety reasons, the Corps may require that a property owner or resident not be present.

 What should I do if I find something that I think is ordnance?

If you find any item suspected of being ordnance, notify local law enforcement officials immediately. Note the location of the suspicious item, but DO NOT touch or disturb the suspicious item. Ordnance can be dangerous no matter how old it is or may appear to be. Always report ordnance finds to local law enforcement officials and do not touch it.  Practice the “3Rs”:  Recognize that any suspicious objects found in the area could be ordnance; Retreat, or carefully leave the area without touching or disturbing anything; and; Report immediately what was found and its approximate location to the police.

 I know someone who has a potential munition in their possession. What should they do?

They should notify local law enforcement officials who will make the proper arrangements to dispose of the munition quickly and safely.

 I am living on a FUDS property with ordnance. Can I build a swimming pool in my backyard?

People who own a FUDS property on which ordnance has been identified should contact the Corps FUDS district point of contact prior to any excavation activity to ensure that appropriate safety precautions are taken.

 I have information about a site and its former use. Who should I contact?

Contact the nearest Corps of Engineers district office, which will put you in touch with people in the FUDS program. Any information you may have about a former site will help the Corps in evaluating the site and the need for cleanup.

 I have an old Army document that says the military cleaned my property. Why does the Corps need to reclean it? This is a waste of tax dollars.

Engineering and science have changed a great deal since many of these properties were turned over to private owners or the state, federal or local governments.  While these properties may have been “cleaned up” at the time of transfer, those methods may not be as sophisticated and protective of human health, safety and the environment as today’s methods. It is the Department of Defense’s responsibility to ensure that these formerly used properties are protective of human health, safety and the environment.

 No one has been hurt on the FUDS property near me. Why should the government use my tax dollars to clean it? Why don’t they just leave it alone?

The Department of Defense takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that land it once owned, used or leased has been cleaned in such a way that is protective of human health, safety and the environment. The FUDS program is the vehicle to accomplish that mission.

 I want to develop a FUDS property. Who do I contact about ensuring that the property is clean or to get the property cleaned up?

The best place to start is with your nearby Corps of Engineers district. They can put you in touch with the FUDS Program Manager.

 I plan to build a subdivision designed for families with young children. How can I get the Corps’ cleanup sped up?

Cleanup projects are prioritized based on risk to human health and the environment on a national basis. In addition to national FUDS priorities, each geographic district and division prioritize their projects by taking into account overall risk and stakeholder concerns. Landowners should contact the FUDS geographic district to let the program and project managers know of future proposed or actual land use changes as they may impact overall district priorities.

 What is the status of FUDS eligible properties with DOD concerns?

An eligible Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) property with Department of Defense (DOD) issues may have more than one project. Within the 2,700 FUDS properties that were identified as having suspected DOD issues, approximately 5,400 projects were identified. To date, all known DOD actions have been completed on approximately 3,600 of these projects and approximately 1,800 projects are currently being evaluated for further DOD response or have active DOD activities.