1994 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@igc.org>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 13:45:09 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military

 When Congress passed the Federal Facilities Compliance Act in
1992, it rejected the Defense Department's request to exempt military
munitions from hazardous waste laws. Instead, it directed EPA, in
consultation with the Department of Defense (DOD) and state
representatives, to promulgate a rule determining when munitions become a
hazardous waste. Soon after passage of the Act, spokespersons for the
Military Toxics Project, which represents community members near many 
military munitions sites, asked that its members be included in discussions
BEFORE the issuance of a draft rule. This resulted in a landmark meeting,
in September, 1993, in which Military Toxics Project activists, state, EPA,
and military representatives exchanged views on the issues to be addressed
in the rule.

 Though most participants thought the meeting productive, EPA did
not send public participants any follow-up material. Only after the Military
Toxics Project and some of its constituent groups filed suit to speed up the
rulemaking process did EPA re-open the process. In August, 1994, exactly
eleven months after the face-to-face meeting, EPA issued four Issues Papers
on the Military Munitions Rules.

Demilitarization of Stockpile Munitions

 EPA defines the question: "At what point should 'unserviceable"
munitions in the military stockpile become regulated as RCRA hazardous
waste? How should hazardous waste regulations apply to these 'waste'

 Historically, the Defense Department has considered that such
munitions become wastes only at the point of disposal. However, under a
new DOD Interim Guidance, munitions are determined to be a waste after
DOD has ruled out future use, sales, reprocessing, etc. Still, citizens groups
tend to prefer a stronger position, which declares munitions to be wastes
when they can no longer be used for their intended purpose OR when
Congress or the executive branch formally declares - in a treaty or other
international agreement, for example - an intention to demilitarize.

Excess Propellant Bags

 The issue: When does excess propellant become a RCRA
solid/hazardous waste?

 Combat artillery units at most locations routinely burn excess
propellant bags, emitting toxic smoke, but the military claims these actions
are exempt from regulation because burning is part of training. At the
Massachusetts Military Reservation, however, local activists forced a halt to
such burning after an epidemiological study showed a link with cancer.

 EPA is currently considering four regulatory options, ranging from
defining all excess propellant as waste to accepting the military claim of a
training exemption. While treating the bags as waste does not automatically
force the halt of open burning, it could sharply curtail the practice.

Management of Ranges

 Since application of hazardous waste laws to impact (artillery or
bombing) ranges could force immense cleanup operations to be undertaken,
this is potentially the most costly consequence of new regulations. EPA
asks: "To what extent should hazardous waste regulations apply to
operation, closure, and cleanup of military firing ranges, inactive ranges,
and inactive ranges on formerly used defense sites?"

 Historically, the military has argued that ranges are not solid waste
management units, and it has chosen to clear or otherwise remediate them
(or not) without regard to any formal external regulatory authority. EPA's
current position, recently elucidated at Congressional hearings at Ford Ord,
California (May 2, 1994), is that firing ranges have been "abandoned" at a
minimum when the property is transferred out of DOD control - even to
another Federal agency. Furthermore, EPA now considers unexploded
munitions in abandoned ranges subject to Superfund cleanup authorities.
These policies are a major step forward, but the Army - at Fort Ord, for
example - still argues that Superfund authorities do not apply before transfer
occurs. EPA also states that it cannot declare land uncontaminated, for the
purpose of transfer to a non-Federal entity, if its contains unexploded

 Citizen groups are not satisfied. They want all unexploded
munitions, as well as explosive waste, considered hazardous wastes - once
they hit the ground. Though this position is based on real threats to public
and environmental health and safety, it makes the military particularly
nervous. It would give outsiders more control over one of the military's
principal missions: combat training.

 The Issues paper also offers options that would force the military to
locate and retrieve unexploded munitions that have missed their targets -
that is, landed off range.

Emergency Responses

 EPA asks: "What should be requireed under RCRA for emergency
responses involving military munitions and explosives?"

 Military emergency teams have expressed concern that
environmental regulation would restrict their ability to respond to bomb
scares. Though there are minor issues here regarding the definition of
emergency and rules for notification, none of the parties wants to undermine
the ability of these teams to respond immediately and effectively to real
explosive threats.

 All of the parties, including the Military Toxics Project, are
providing EPA with comments on the Issues Papers. Once a proposed rule
is issued, there will be another, more formal public comment period. Given
the wide gap on many of these issues between the operational military and
the people who live near its impact ranges, one can expect a major political
battle to erupt over some of EPA's proposals, no matter which side EPA

  Prev by Date: FOREIGN BASES
Next by Date: Mona Ellerbrock Intro to Conference
  Prev by Thread: Re: FOREIGN BASES
Next by Thread: Mona Ellerbrock Intro to Conference

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index