In 1997 the Military Munitions Rule (MMR)1 specifically declared that unused conventional munitions are not considered discarded until they are removed from storage to be treated. The MMR directly and unambiguously applies to the demilitarization of conventional explosive and reactive military munitions and directly governs how the Army must handle and move munitions or related materials (e.g., propellant) destined for treatment or destruction.
According to the MMR, an unused military munition becomes a solid waste when (1) the unused munition is “abandoned by being disposed of, burned, or incinerated, or treated prior to disposal”; (2) the unused munition is removed from storage for purposes of disposal or treatment prior to disposal; (3) the unused munition is deteriorated, leaking, or damaged to the point that it can no longer be returned to serviceable condition and cannot be reasonably recycled or used for other purposes (except, of course, recycling that is like “discard,” i.e., placement on the ground, unless such placement is the result of use as a munition, or burning for energy recovery); or (4) the munition has been determined by an authorized military official to be a solid waste.2 Therefore, in states that have adopted the MMR, stored unused munitions are not solid or hazardous waste until the material is finally removed from storage for the purpose of disposal or treatment prior to disposal.
The MMR does not apply to unused munitions that were buried or landfilled in the past, but would apply once those munitions are unearthed and further managed. In addition, the regulation does not apply to munitions being used for their intended purposes (e.g., military training). It also does not apply when a munition is destroyed during certain range clearance operations and when an unused munition, including components thereof, is repaired, reused, recycled, reclaimed, disassembled, reconfigured, or otherwise subjected to materials recovery activities.3 However, except for the type of exemptions discussed herein, the ultimate treatment or destruction of waste military munitions must be conducted under a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit.
1 The term “military munitions” means all ammunition products and components produced or used by or for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) or the U.S. Armed Services for national defense and security, including military munitions under the control of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Energy, and National Guard personnel. Military munitions include confined gaseous, liquid, and solid propellants, explosives, pyrotechnics, chemical and riot control agents, smokes, and incendiaries used by DoD component organizations, including bulk explosives and chemical warfare agents, chemical munitions, rockets, guided and ballistic missiles, bombs, warheads, mortar rounds, artillery ammunition, small arms ammunition, grenades, mines, torpedoes, depth charges, cluster munitions and dispensers, demolition charges, and devices and components thereof. Military munitions do not include wholly inert items, improvised explosive devices, and nuclear weapons, nuclear devices, and nuclear components thereof. However, the term does include nonnuclear components of nuclear devices, managed under the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons program after all required sanitization operations under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, have been completed. 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 266, Subpart M, § 260.10.
2 40 CFR Part 266, Subpart M, § 266.202(b)(1)-(4).
3 EPA, “Military Munitions Rule: Hazardous Waste Identification and Management; Explosives Emergencies; Manifest Exemption for Transport of Hazardous Waste on Right-of-Ways on Contiguous Properties,” Federal Register, Vol. 62, No. 29, February 12, 1997, p. 6628 and 6629, and 40 CFR 266.202(a)(2).
4 Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Admin. Code r. 335-14-5-.31 and 225-14-6-.31.
5 Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Title 329 Article 3.1 of the Indiana Administrative Code, 329-3.1-11-1.
Kentucky,6 Nevada,7 Oklahoma,8 and Pennsylvania.9 Only Utah has not adopted the MMR provisions. The MMR does not have provisions for citing or permit conditions for RCRA conventional munitions demilitarization sites or units. The MMR’s only impact on the conventional munition demilitarization program is the timing for munitions to be declared hazardous waste and the shipment of munitions on public highways (e.g., no RCRA manifest is required). It also may provide support for RCRA exemption applications for units where munitions are repaired, reused, recycled, reclaimed, disassembled, reconfigured, or otherwise subjected to materials recovery activities (e.g., not treating a solid or hazardous waste).
6 Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, 401 Kentucky Administration Regulations 36:080. Military munitions.
7 Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, Nevada Administrative Code 444.8632.
8 Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Environmental Quality Code, 2525:205-3-2(h).
9 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Code Title 25 Chapter 266a.20.