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Shiloh Krupar, Wings over the Rockies Air Museum on a portion of the former Lowry Air Force Base, 25 September 2014,
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Issue Brief

Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) & Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP)

Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) are properties that the United States owned, leased, or possessed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). In 1986, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers led a U.S. military program for environmental assessment and restoration under this name. The DOD deemed thousands of sites used for military training, production, installation, and testing of weapons systems to be in need of environmental cleanup at estimated costs of $14-18 billion. This initiated a process of investigation and, if required, cleanup of contamination or munitions that remain on properties from past DOD activities, in order to return the land to private individuals or federal, state, Tribal, or local government entities.

The scope and magnitude of the FUDS Program are significant, with more than 10,000 properties that have been evaluated for inclusion 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 (CERCLA). 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 undergoing building demolition and debris removal if the building or structure was unsafe at the time of transfer. FUDS properties across the country can range from less than an acre of territory to hundreds of thousands of acres, and can be found in industrial or residential areas as well as on federal, Tribal, or state properties. In 1987, a formal commission on Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) was created to manage such site transformations. BRAC closure rounds have taken place in 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 2005 thus far.

A separate program, “Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program” (FUSRAP), identifies, investigates, remediates, and/or monitors sites impacted by the early atomic weapons and energy programs. Established in 1974, FUSRAP coordinates environmental remediation and site control in response to the historic activities of the Manhattan Engineer District, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), and its government contractors. It was originally under the purview of the AEC followed by its successor, the Department of Energy (DOE). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, “Formerly Utilized Sites Remediation Action Program,” accessed August 3, 2020, https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/FUSRAP/.In 1997, Congress directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct FUSRAP assessment, remedial action, and site closure activities in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding between the Corps and the DOE. Upon completion of site remediation and closure, FUSRAP sites are then transferred back to DOE. The DOE Office of Legacy Management retains responsibility for determining eligibility for site cleanups under FUSRAP and for long-term surveillance and maintenance activities.

For a new site to be added to FUSRAP, the DOE performs historical research to determine if the new site is eligible, and then provides the Corps with information about the site, including the nature and geographic boundaries of work processes and potential chemical and radioactive contaminants. The Corps then conducts a review and site assessment to determine the potential for exposure to humans and the environment and the associated risk. The Corps coordinates cleanup activities with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and/or state regulators, and conducts its work in accordance with federal law, including CERCLA and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan. The waste generated at FUSRAP sites typically consists of low-level radioactive material such as uranium, thorium, and/or radium, with some mixed waste. However, the program also addresses sites that may contain radioactivity levels above current regulatory guidelines, and emphasizes that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, “Formerly Utilized Sites Remediation Action Program,” accessed August 3, 2020, https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/FUSRAP/.contamination is typically located in soil that is several inches below ground level, capped with vegetation, and/or is in areas that are restricted from the general public.

Christopher Clayton, Vijendra Kothari, Ken Starr, Joey Gillespie, and Michael Widdop, “Overview of the U.S. Department of Energy Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program,” Osti-gov, July 1, 2012, https://www.osti.gov/biblio/22293487-overview-department-energy-formerly-utilized-sites-remedial-action-program.Initially, FUSRAP site research identified 46 sites eligible for and requiring remediation, due to residual radiological contamination. Currently the program covers 25 active sites in 10 states: Connecticut, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. At these sites, remedial action is planned, under way, or pending final closeout. Each FUSRAP site may include multiple operable units and several phases of assessment and remediation, depending upon the work being done. Since the Corps began administering FUSRAP, program funding has hovered between $99.9 million to $140 million annually. Both FUDS and FUSRAP processes of remediation, review, and ongoing protection have been criticized by affected communities and separate federal regulatory agencies alike.

Sources

Clayton, Christopher, Vijendra Kothari, Ken Starr, Joey Gillespie, and Michael Widdop. “Overview of the U.S. Department of Energy Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program.Osti-gov. July 1, 2012. Accessed August 3, 2020.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Formerly Used Defense Sites Program.” Accessed July 17, 2020.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Formerly Used Defense Sites Program Fact Sheet.” Accessed July 17, 2020.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Formerly Utilized Sites Remediation Action Plan (FUSRAP).” April 16, 2020. Accessed August 3, 2020.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Formerly Utilized Sites Remediation Action Program.” Accessed August 3, 2020.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. “Formerly Used Defense Sites: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Needs to Improve Its Process for Reviewing Completed Cleanup Remedies to Ensure Continued Protection.” GAO-10-46. October 2009. Accessed July 17, 2020.


 

Last Updated:

08/27/2021

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