National Academies Press: OpenBook
« Previous: Summary
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

1

Introduction

In Section 1421 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, the U.S. Congress directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to enter into an arrangement with the Board on Army Science and Technology of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a study of the DoD conventional munitions demilitarization program. The study can be summarized as an evaluation of alternative technologies for the destruction of conventional munitions in lieu of open burning (OB) or open detonation (OD). The statement of task (SOT) is shown in Box 1-1.

The SOT specifically focuses on the DoD conventional munitions demilitarization stockpile.1 The Army sponsor for this study, the Office of the Product Director for Demilitarization (PD Demil), defines this as the munitions stockpile currently being stored and destroyed at seven Army stockpile depots,2 referred to by the Army as “organic capabilities.”3 The SOT also includes private sector “industry partners” that operate under contract to DoD at various sites across the United States. According to the PD Demil, these industry partners are part of the Demilitarization Enterprise; they are used to increase capacity beyond what the seven Army stockpile depots can execute.

The SOT not only reflects the directive of Congress, but also establishes the basis for the National Academies

___________________

1 Conventional ammunition awaiting demilitarization and disposal stockpile. The total demilitarization stockpile as of September 30, 2017, consisted of 430,987 tons of munitions, with 28,153 tons consisting of rockets and missiles and 402,834 tons consisting of conventional munitions. J. McFassel, product director for demilitarization, PEO AMMO, “Clarifications on Demilitarization Policies and Procedures for National Academy of Sciences,” presentation to the committee, October 23, 2017.

2 The seven DoD stockpile depots are Anniston Munitions Center; Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD); Crane Army Ammunition Activity (CAAA); Hawthorne Army Depot; Letterkenny Munitions Center (LEMC); McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCA); and Tooele Army Depot (TEAD).

3 J. McFassel, product director for demilitarization, PEO AMMO, “Demilitarization Overview for National Academy of Sciences,” presentation to the committee, August 22, 2017.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

contractual requirements for the study. The committee is not permitted to exceed the scope of its work as set forth in the SOT. Hence, the committee investigation and analysis is focused on the five tasks set forth in the SOT and on the current conventional munitions demilitarization stockpile.4

The words energetic compounds (or energetic materials), explosives, and propellants are used throughout this report. Energetic materials store chemical energy for later release. It is a very broad term that encompasses all the chemical components of military munitions that cause the munition to function as designed. Energetic compounds can include explosives such as RDX, TNT, and/or lead azide and lead styphnate used in warheads; propellants used in rockets and missiles; and pyrotechnics used for such things as decoy flares or illumination.

OVERVIEW OF THE CONVENTIONAL DEMILITARIZATION ENTERPRISE

The DoD designates the Army as the Single Manager for Conventional Ammunition, with the following mission:5

Perform life-cycle management for demilitarization of conventional ammunition for the Department of Defense.

Demilitarization Enterprise strategic goals for PD Demil are as follows:6

  • Efficiently reduce the demilitarization stockpile by maximizing use of the capacity of the organic and commercial industrial base;
  • Continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of demilitarization capabilities within the enterprise;
  • Implement design for demilitarization for all new and modified conventional ammunition products; and
  • Increase the use of contained (“closed”) disposal, resource recovery, and recycling consistent with continuing to ensure minimal exposure of personnel to explosive safety risks.

Additional information about the Army’s organizational structure that oversees conventional munitions demilitarization, the seven DoD stockpile sites, and the makeup of the demilitarization stockpile is presented in Chapter 2.

OVERVIEW OF DEMILITARIZATION TECHNOLOGIES

OB/OD of munitions has been a common demilitarization technology for decades. OB conducted for munitions in the stockpile at the stockpile sites consists mainly of spreading out propellants in an open-top metal burn pan located in an open area, followed by ignition and burning. OD conducted for munitions in the stockpile at the stockpile sites consists mainly of placement of munitions in an outside pit, covering with adjacent soil, followed by detonation. Static firing of rockets and missiles in the stockpile at the stockpile sites is typically conducted by securing the rocket or missile in a stand outside, followed by ignition and burning. The committee considers static firing of rocket and missile motors to be another type of OB.

OB/OD operations are technically simple and relatively straightforward. They are relatively inexpensive to conduct as compared to many of the alternatives (GAO, 2015). All seven Army demilitarization depots currently have permitted OB/OD facilities. While there have been safety incidents, OB/OD technologies are consistent with the Demilitarization Enterprise stated strategic goal of ensuring minimal exposure of personnel to explosive safety risk.

One of the primary downsides of OB/OD operations is that, by definition, specifically referring to the word “open,” by-products of the burning or detonation are released directly into the environment—plumes of smoke and particulate matter are often quite visible during and following OB/OD operations. OB/OD also often results in noise, shock waves, and ground tremors. Energetic compounds are commonly ejected and other contaminants, including heavy metals, are commonly released to the surrounding media (air, soil, water) during OB/OD events.

OB/OD permits have been issued for 53 locations; 7 additional locations are in interim status, with permits pending.7 The DoD holds 35 of these permits. Permits for hazardous waste facilities, including OB/OD operations, are issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or authorized states under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). OB/OD RCRA permits are developed in accordance with RCRA’s Miscellaneous Unit requirements (40 CFR 264 Subpart X). According to EPA, RCRA permits for OB/OD operations, as well as for alternative technologies that fall under Subpart X, are built from a standard foundation of RCRA regulatory requirements, and then customized for each facility.8 In order for a facility to receive an RCRA permit, the operation must be protective of human health and the environment—a statutory requirement of RCRA.

Alternative technologies currently in use that are comparable to OB/OD may be characterized as contained burning (CB) or contained detonation (CD). DoD also employs a

___________________

4 The munitions in the demilitarization stockpile comprise only a subset of materiel currently treated by OB/OD at a variety of military installations including ammunition production plants and practice ranges. While the alternative treatment technologies discussed in this study will have application for some of the materiel treated by OB/OD at these installations, this materiel is not considered part of the demilitarization stockpile and therefore operations at these sites are not discussed in this study.

5 J. McFassel, product director for demilitarization, PEO AMMO, “Demilitarization Overview for National Academy of Sciences,” presentation to the committee, August 22, 2017.

6 Ibid.

7 K. Shuster, engineer, senior technical expert, U.S. EPA, “Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions,” presentation to the committee on August 22, 2017.

8 Ibid.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

number of preparatory or pretreatment technologies (prior to CB/CD) and resource recovery or recycling technologies for various categories of munitions in the stockpile. Still other alternative technologies being investigated by the Army are in various stages of research and development, testing, and evaluation.9

The use of alternative technologies must also meet regulatory requirements under RCRA. As with OB/OD, in order to receive an RCRA permit, alternative technologies must be protective of human health and the environment. Depending on the technology, some alternatives may be permitted as incineration or combustion units. Many alternatives would be permitted under RCRA Subpart X—just as for OB/OD operations. Because most of the alternatives entail some sort of CB or CD and have back-end treatment for combustion and detonation by-products, by their nature, these technologies limit the release of particulates and hazardous constituents into the environment to a relatively small amount.

With the possible exception of alternative technologies that are considered to be incineration technologies, alternative technologies are generally viewed more favorably by public interest groups. Incineration technologies have historically been opposed by public interest groups, although they would offer far greater control over emissions from munition demilitarization operations than would OB/OD. These technologies must also be permitted under RCRA (40 CFR 264 Subpart O) and employ back-end pollution abatement systems prior to release of air emissions to the atmosphere.

The downside of many of the CB/CD technologies is that they are typically more expensive to construct and systemize than OB/OD, although closure activities under RCRA will typically be less expensive for alternative technologies as compared to OB and OD. The rate of treatment for alternative technologies, referred to as throughput, may also be lower for alternative technologies because of technological limitations (e.g., net explosive weight limitation, size of the chamber) and operational limitations (e.g., time needed to prepare munitions, cool-down periods). Additional units may be added to increase throughput, if allowed by permit. OB/OD operations have throughput limitations as well, although use of multiple burn pans or detonation pits, if allowed by the permit, could be used to increase throughput for OB/OD operations. OB/OD operations, however, must comply with specific weather conditions and time-of-day constraints under the permit, which limits throughput. Alternative technologies can operate continually and without most of the restrictions related to daylight or weather, though restrictions such as pausing operations when lightning is in the area will likely remain in effect. It is clear that the determination of throughput is technology and munition-specific. Regardless, considering the rather large size of the demilitarization stockpile and the current demilitarization budget (see Chapter 2), cost and throughput become important considerations.

OB and OD practices are described in Chapter 3. Alternative technologies are described in Chapter 4. Throughput and cost are discussed in each of these chapters.

TRANSITION FROM OB/OD TO CB/CD

The last Demilitarization Enterprise stated strategic goal listed above is to “Increase the use of contained (‘closed’) disposal,10 resource recovery, and recycling consistent with continuing to ensure minimal exposure of personnel to explosive safety risks.” This goal is particularly pertinent to this study. There appears to be a concerted and long-standing effort on the part of Congress and the Army to investigate and use alternatives in lieu of OB/OD.

The 106th Congress, House of Representatives Report 106-754 (to Accompany H.R. 4576), in its Appropriations Bill for the Fiscal Year ending September 30, 2001 (July 17, 2000), included the following statement:

OPEN BURN/OPEN DISPOSAL PRACTICES
The conferees are aware of public concern regarding possible health risks to civilian populations associated with the open burning/open detonation (OB/OD) of munitions and equipment at Army depots at various locations in the U.S. Most of these risks are believed to be associated with airborne gases, particles, and other contaminants carried downwind of the burn/detonation sites. The Army is directed to study potential alternative closed disposal technologies that do not release into the atmosphere and to report to Congress no later than September 30, 2001, on the possibility of phasing out OB/OD in favor of closed disposal methods. The report should include a review of technologies currently in existence and under development and assess the cost and feasibility of constructing facilities employing those technologies.

According to DoD’s Joint Demilitarization Technology Report to Congress (DoD, 2000):

The Fiscal Year 1999 funding included an additional $3.0 million to investigate and develop safe, efficient, and environmentally compliant technologies as alternatives to open burning/open detonation (OB/OD) to reduce the munitions demilitarization stockpile.

According to the 2007-2012 Demilitarization Strategic Plan (DoD, 2006), under the general category 3.2.8 Strategic Goal, Safety and Environmental Stewardship, Goal 3.2.8.1.5 is as follows:

___________________

9 J. McFassel, product director for demilitarization, PEO AMMO, and O. Hrycak, chief engineer, Office of PD Demilitarization, PEO AMMO, “Emerging Technologies Addressing Alternatives to Open Burn and Open Detonation,” presentation to the committee on August 22, 2017.

10 The committee is using the termed “contained” versus “closed” for two reasons. First, because most CB/CD systems eventually release an air stream to the environment, these systems are not truly closed. Second, the committee wants to clearly differentiate the type of treatment (open versus contained) from RCRA unit closure requirements.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

Limit open burn/open detonation (OB/OD) to 20% of execution to reduce its environmental impact.

In accordance with this goal, DoD presented information to the committee indicating that the Army has already significantly reduced use of OB/OD in favor of CB/CD.11 The Army estimated that the use of OB/OD as demilitarization treatment methods has declined from an estimated 80 percent of demilitarized munitions in the mid-1980s to an average of about 30 percent in recent years as calculated by the committee (see Chapter 2).12 This reduction appears to be due to a combination of factors, including placement of some classes of munitions back into serviceable accounts, increased use of resource recovery and recycling, and transitioning to CB/CD technologies.

The committee received a new demilitarization strategic plan in late May 2018, just as the committee was in the process of developing its first complete draft of the report. Titled “Strategic Plan for the Demilitarization Enterprise,”13 it is described further in Chapter 2, and Chapter 9 addresses specific elements of the new strategic plan in Chapter 9 as well.

THE COMMITTEE’S APPROACH

There are a number of closed OB and OD sites that are currently being cleaned up under various environmental programs. EPA shows 54 closed OB/OD facilities as subject to cleanup.14 Some of these closed OB/OD facilities are owned by entities other than the Army. However, most of these units were closed prior to obtaining RCRA operating permits. The committee refers to these as “legacy” units or operations.

Contamination from legacy OB/OD operations may be very different from contamination noted at permitted units, as legacy units were not subject to the same types of controls and conditions as exist for permitted units. One example is the present-day use of burn pans for OB. These came into use as a result of RCRA permit requirements. Prior to RCRA, OB was done directly on the ground surface (EPA, 2002). Similarly for OD, some of the controls used and conditions imposed now did not exist prior to RCRA. An example would be diversion of surface water runoff at permitted OB/OD sites to retention ponds (EPA, 2002). There are other examples as well of RCRA permit requirements for OB/OD units that would have the effect of limiting impacts to human health and the environment.

In addition, many of the legacy units or operations undergoing cleanup are complicated by contamination from adjacent operations or processes. Some, for example, were located adjacent to munitions production sites that released the same types of constituents as are typically associated with OB/OD sites.15 In these cases, it is difficult to discern whether the source of the contamination at legacy sites was from the OB/OD operation, from adjacent operations or processes, or more likely, a combination of both.

The implication for this study is that the cleanup of legacy sites has no bearing on the comparison of existing RCRA permitted OB/OD units with alternative technologies. These legacy operations may have shaped public perception of OB/OD, but present-day OB/OD operations are conducted under an RCRA permit that federal and state regulators have found to be protective of human health and the environment. Therefore, the comparison of alternative technologies to OB/OD operations that the committee is charged with addresses only those Army operations that are permitted or seeking permits (interim status) under RCRA.

Another facet of this study that affects the scope of the committee’s work pertains to the demilitarization stockpile. Only a portion of these munitions are currently treated via either OB or OD. Due to RCRA permit conditions or safety concerns, many types of munitions are presently not treated using OB/OD units. For example, permits for OB/OD units prohibit treatment of chemical warfare agents, munitions containing depleted uranium, and non-mass detonating explosives. Munitions that are not treated at the stockpile locations using OB/OD are not the focus of this study.

Also worth mentioning, there are a number of OB/OD operations at facilities across the United States that do not treat munitions in the stockpile. These include units “operated” by other military services (Air Force, Navy/Marines), the Department of Energy (DOE) and some of its National Laboratories, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the private sector. They also include OB/OD operations at ammunition plants and operations on military ranges. There are also munitions demilitarization projects being performed on formerly used training ranges at closed and active military facilities. Demilitarization of munitions during these operations is also not evaluated. While this study will have implications for these other OB/OD operations, in accordance with the SOT, this study does not address them. Evaluation of applicability of the findings and recommendations laid out in this report to these other OB/OD operations may be helpful, however.

The SOT specifically calls out evaluation of “non-closed loop incineration/combustion.” “Non-closed loop” is not commonly used to describe incineration or combustion technologies. CB/CD technologies permitted today involve treatment of the gaseous phase that results from incineration or combustion, typically in an engineered pollution abatement

___________________

11 J.C. King, director for Munitions and Chemical Matters, HQDA, ODASA(ESOH), “DoD Open Burn and Open Detonation (OB/OD),” presentation to the committee on August 22, 2017.

12 Ibid.

13 “Strategic Plan: For the Demilitarization Enterprise,” draft document provided to the committee by J. McFassel, product director for demilitarization, PEO AMMO, via e-mail on May 25, 2018.

14 K. Shuster, engineer, senior technical expert, U.S. EPA, “Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions,” presentation to the committee on August 22, 2017.

15 Ibid.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

system that achieves established emission/contaminant limits set by RCRA or the Clean Air Act, before being released to the atmosphere. In this sense, all modern permitted incineration or combustion processes are non-closed (open) loop in that they release treated gases to the environment. Technically, at this time there are no true closed loop incineration or combustion systems used for demilitarization of conventional munitions. Some alternative technologies do have the ability to hold and test emissions, and if appropriate, re-treat them, prior to release to the environment. These types of technologies are usually reserved for the treatment of chemical weapons, where the toxicity of and potential exposure to the chemical agent is of primary concern.

Considering that the SOT is focused on alternatives to OB and OD, the committee has specifically avoided comparing and contrasting “like technologies” against each other. For example, there are several types of technologies used for CB or CD. The Static Detonation Chamber (SDC) and the Controlled Detonation Chamber (CDC) may both be used to treat munitions in a contained system. In this report, these technologies are contrasted against OB/OD, but they are not purposely contrasted against each other.

Also important, while the SOT is clearly focused on evaluation of alternative technologies, the baseline is OB and OD. In the committee’s comparisons, alternatives are evaluated against OB/OD as a baseline. For each type of alternative technology, the committee evaluated cost, throughput capacity, personnel safety, and environmental impacts, as required by the SOT. To ensure a thorough comparison of OB and OD to alternative technologies, the committee added a number of other criteria to its comparison. The full set of evaluation criteria employed in the comparisons are presented in Chapter 5.

The SOT requires evaluation of alternative technologies and whether there are barriers to full-scale deployment of alternatives to OB/OD. The committee makes no judgment as to when or whether OB/OD technologies should be replaced with alternative technologies.

The committee also decided to limit its assessment to technologies being used or researched within the United States. The committee did not research technologies being used or developed internationally unless they were already being used, permitted, or researched within the United States. Information on alternative technologies used or researched in the United States were reviewed, however, even if they are not currently used on munitions maintained within the demilitarization stockpile at the seven stockpile sites. These technologies are also addressed in Chapter 4.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CONSIDERING REGULATORY POLICY, HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERNS, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE

As indicated above, OB/OD and most alternative technologies used to treat waste conventional munitions require operating permits issued by EPA or authorized states. The primary regulatory authority is regulations issued pursuant to RCRA, mentioned previously, but the Clean Air Act also applies in some cases. Under RCRA, OB of hazardous waste is prohibited except for the OB and detonation of waste explosives. Waste explosives include waste that has the potential to detonate and bulk military propellants that cannot be safely disposed through other modes of treatment (40 CFR 265.382). EPA allowed OB/OD for waste explosives and propellants at the time of the initial promulgation of the RCRA regulations, recognizing that safe alternatives to OB/OD were not available at the time (45 FR 32655, May 19, 1980). Subsequently, OB/OD units have received RCRA operating permits under Subpart X as miscellaneous units. The committee accepts that permits issued for OB and OD and alternative technologies meet the RCRA statutory requirement to ensure protection of human health and the environment.

EPA has no current regulation or policy that prohibits or limits the issuance of RCRA permits for OB/OD facilities or that promotes alternative technologies.16 Similarly, two authorized state environmental agencies with jurisdiction over Army stockpile OB/OD facilities stated that there is no current regulation or official policy that prohibits or limits the issuance of RCRA permits for OB/OD facilities or that promotes the use of alternative technologies in lieu of OB/OD.17 The EPA staff presentation to the committee included a recently initiated project to identify alternatives to OB/OD.18 It was noted that the Draft Open Burning/Open Detonation Permitting Guidelines issued in EPA Region 3 (February 2002) indicates that the permit applicant should include a justification of the need for OB/OD, including the evaluation of alternative technologies. However, these guidelines were never made final, and, as with all regional guidance, are nonbinding on authorized state regulatory agencies or other regions.

Human health and safety concerns are of paramount importance in operating any demilitarization operation. While OB and OD both entail personnel safety risks, many alternatives to OB and OD involve additional handling of munitions, which could present an increased personnel safety risk. Safety in the handling, transportation, and destruction of stockpile munitions is imperative, and OB/OD and alternatives must meet established explosive and safety criteria for personnel and the public. Because of this, the Department

___________________

16 Response to information request submitted by the committee, documents provided via e-mail on October 20, 2017, by K. Shuster, engineer, senior technical expert, U.S. EPA.

17 L. Houseal, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, “Pennsylvania Regulatory Perspectives,” presentation to the committee, December 11, 2017. S. Cobb, chief, Land Division, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, “Alabama Regulatory Perspectives,” presentation to the committee, December 11, 2017.

18 Response to information request submitted by the committee, documents provided via e-mail on October 20, 2017, by K. Shuster, engineer, senior technical expert, U.S. EPA.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

of Defense Explosives Safety Board (DDESB) has a crucial role in ensuring adequate protective measures for workers and the surrounding area.19 Because DDESB reviews and approves all OB/OD and alternative technology operations, the committee accepts that OB/OD and alternative technologies have been determined to meet personnel safety requirements.

This study also addresses public confidence in alternative technologies and management of associated risks. It is well understood that social preferences and perceptions of technologies and how risks are managed can impact the design and implementation of technologies. Thus, the committee includes public confidence as one of the important evaluation criteria for OB/OD and alternative technologies. Public opposition to OB/OD and alternative technologies because of how risks are perceived and weighed and public confidence in management of risks has the potential to affect permitting timelines and thus the ability of PD Demil to achieve its stated strategic goals.

The committee notes that the language in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that required this study came about because of continuing concerns about the human health and environmental impacts of OB/OD that have been expressed by public interest groups. Public opposition to OB/OD has occurred primarily around other facilities (other than the seven addressed in this report) that treat waste munitions and also materials and wastes associated with conventional munitions, including dunnage, production wastes, supplemental fuels, buildings and construction materials, and contaminated solvents. Public interest groups have raised objections because of concerns they have about potential adverse impacts to public health and the environment, even though the activities have been permitted in accordance with RCRA standards.20 These include contamination to surface and groundwater, soil, and air that may give rise to health risks, especially for vulnerable populations and those living close to the site. Public interest groups believe that emissions are inadequately monitored and that information is poorly shared with the public by the Army and regulatory agencies. They have also cited nuisance risks that residents in nearby communities have experienced from OB/OD, including property damage from vibration and blasts (e.g., broken windows, and broken dishes), noise, odors, and dust.

Regulatory issues are evaluated in Chapter 6. Chapters 7 and 8 contain the comparisons and evaluations required by the SOT. Chapter 9 addresses barriers and other considerations that might have an impact on the full-scale deployment of alternative technologies. The concerns presented to the committee by public interest groups are discussed in greater detail in Appendix D.

A WORD ABOUT COST

One of the four criteria specified in the SOT is cost. Cost information associated with the alternative technologies was not always available. The committee found that cost information was often considered proprietary. In other cases, cost information, although requested, was not always provided. In addition, where cost data were available to the committee, this information was often presented in qualitative terms or in a manner that was not conducive to direct comparisons among technologies. Determining startup and operating costs for technologies that may not be fully developed or operational may also be speculative. Hence, the committee’s consideration of cost was in general, qualitative terms.

A related cost issue pertains to life cycle costs, which includes the cost of unit closure and associated cleanup. The cost of closing and cleanup of OB/OD sites can be substantial, particularly if groundwater is contaminated. While there are limited cleanup cost data on legacy sites, these cost data have limited applicability to the comparison of existing RCRA permitted OB/OD units with cleanup costs of alternative technologies. Alternative technologies’ cleanup costs would normally be associated only with nonenvironmental media (e.g., equipment and buildings), since under current RCRA permits, any releases to environmental media from a permitted unit must be documented and corrected.

COMMITTEE MEETINGS AND PRESENTATIONS

In support of this study, the committee obtained information and perspectives from a number of sources. In addition to presentations by several organizations within the Army, a representative of the DDESB, and a number of technology vendors, the committee invited presentations from the U.S. EPA, and representatives from two states authorized under RCRA, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. There were also presentations by representatives of the California Communities Against Toxics, Cease Fire! Campaign, and Environmental Patriots of the New River Valley. These presentations, held in August, October, and December 2017, were all simultaneously webcast, which allowed the public to hear the presentations and committee questions and answers in real time. Appendix A of this report identifies the various presentations made to the committee.

REPORT STRUCTURE

Chapter 2 describes the DoD demilitarization enterprise. It outlines organizational responsibility within the DoD, describes the demilitarization stockpile (i.e., locations, types of munitions, amounts); identifies types of explo-

___________________

19 T.L. Chiapello, executive director, DDESB, “Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board (DDESB) Organization, Functions, and Approvals,” presentation to the committee, December 11, 2017.

20 In the course of its work the committee engaged with representatives of the California Communities Against Toxics, the CeaseFire Campaign, the Center for Public and Environmental Oversight, and the Environmental Patriots of the New River Valley.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×

sives, propellants, and related materials, including materials containing or contaminated with energetic compounds; and describes components of environmental concern (e.g., energetic compounds, metals). Further, it specifically identifies munitions for which OB/OD are and are not being used.

Chapter 3 summarizes conventional OB/OD technologies conducted under RCRA permits.

Chapter 4 provides summary descriptions of alternative technologies. These include chemical and physical treatment (e.g., hydrolysis, cryofracture), CB, CD, partial processing steps, recycling and reuse, and emerging technologies.

Chapter 5 presents the evaluation criteria used by the committee to compare and contrast OB and OD with alternative technologies.

Chapter 6 addresses environmental permitting, both for OB and OD and for alternative technologies.

Chapter 7 addresses the potential applicability of the alternative technologies described in Chapter 4 to the stockpile munitions that are currently being demilitarized using OB or OD. This chapter offers examples of candidate technology combinations and whole munition processes that are alternatives to OB/OD.

Chapter 8 presents a comparative evaluation of demilitarization technologies, including health and safety, environmental impacts, capacity and throughput, public opposition and acceptance, cost and other attributes, as described in Chapter 5.

Chapter 9 discusses barriers and other considerations that may impact the full-scale deployment of alternative technologies.

Appendix A provides a summary of the committee’s activities during this study.

Appendix B presents the draft criteria for use when considering alternative technologies that were provided by the Cease Fire! Campaign.

Appendix C discusses the Military Munitions Rule.

Appendix D provides a broader discussion of the background of public opposition to OB and OD that resulted in this study.

Appendix E provides biographical information about the committee members.

Appendix F is an acronym list.

REFERENCES

DoD (U.S. Department of Defense). 2000. Department of Defense Joint Demilitarization Technology Program, June 2000, A Report to Congress. Washington, D.C.: Joint Demilitarization Program.

DoD. 2006. Strategic Plan: The Demilitarization Enterprise, FY 2007-12. Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.: PM, Demilitarization.

EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2002. EPA Region III Draft Final Open Burning/Open Detonation Permitting Guidelines, February 2002. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/201603/documents/rcra_openburnopendet_guide.pdf.

GAO (U.S. Government Accountability Office). 2015. GAO-15-538. Improved Data and Information Sharing Could Aid in DOD’s Management of Ammunition Categorized for Disposal. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 6
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 7
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 8
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 9
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 10
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 11
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25140.
×
Page 12
Next: 2 An Overview of the U.S. Army Demilitarization Program, the Demilitarization Stockpile, and Factors Bearing on the Program »
Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $75.00 Buy Ebook | $59.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

The U.S. military has a stockpile of approximately 400,000 tons of excess, obsolete, or unserviceable munitions. About 60,000 tons are added to the stockpile each year. Munitions include projectiles, bombs, rockets, landmines, and missiles. Open burning/open detonation (OB/OD) of these munitions has been a common disposal practice for decades, although it has decreased significantly since 2011.

OB/OD is relatively quick, procedurally straightforward, and inexpensive. However, the downside of OB and OD is that they release contaminants from the operation directly into the environment. Over time, a number of technology alternatives to OB/OD have become available and more are in research and development. Alternative technologies generally involve some type of contained destruction of the energetic materials, including contained burning or contained detonation as well as contained methods that forego combustion or detonation.

Alternatives for the Demilitarization of Conventional Munitions reviews the current conventional munitions demilitarization stockpile and analyzes existing and emerging disposal, treatment, and reuse technologies. This report identifies and evaluates any barriers to full-scale deployment of alternatives to OB/OD or non-closed loop incineration/combustion, and provides recommendations to overcome such barriers.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!