Did You Know … USACE helps clean up sites containing unexploded military ordnance?

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District
Published July 19, 2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District supervises the use of an innovative Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) towing a magnetometer to search for munitions 14 miles east of Marysville on Jan 24, 2019. The testing took place in the Spenceville Wildlife Area, a FUDS (Formerly Used Defense Site) known as the former Camp Beale.

Throughout the past two centuries, large sections of land have been used across the United States for training military personnel. In order to ensure our forces are fully prepared and our equipment will function as intended, many parcels of land have also been used for live-fire exercises. Not only that, but unexploded ordnance dating as far back as the American Civil War can still pose a hazard even today!

So what happens when the military stops training and a site is no longer active? And who is responsible to clean up munitions from a site where explosive ordnance was once used?

The Department of Defense is responsible for environmental restoration of properties that were formerly owned by, leased to, or otherwise possessed by the United States and under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Defense. These properties are known as Formerly Used Defense Sites or FUDS, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages and directs the administration of the FUDS program.

Over the years, it is because of the FUDS program that such live-fire sites have been cleaned up and returned to both public and private use by the Corps of Engineers. However, there are locations where unexploded ordnance such as live ammunition, missiles and grenades, potentially remain.

Should you ever come across something you suspect is a military munition, it is very important to know that it may still be live and therefore dangerous! These are not toys nor trinkets to be collected and displayed at your home, school or office!

Would you know what to do if you encountered an unexploded ordnance?

There are three R’s to help you remember what to do in the event of encountering unexploded munitions: Recognize, Retreat, Report.            

Recognize when you may have come across a munition, and that munitions are dangerous.
Retreat, do not approach, touch, move, or disturb it, but carefully leave the area.
Report immediately what you saw and where you saw it to local law enforcement, call 9-1-1.

Read more information about the Formerly Used Defense Sites program or start with a FUDS FAQ.