The U.S. Navy maintains and operates testing and training ranges around the world to prepare Sailors and Marines to use a variety of weapons systems. These ranges are crucial to national defense because they provide realistic training. Navy ranges include land-based targets throughout the continental United States and overseas territories.
Military readiness activities on Navy ranges can leave munitions debris on the range after use. If not maintained properly this debris can impact range readiness and efficiency. A buildup of munitions and target debris can also pose unsafe risks to public safety and the environment if not handled properly.
The Navy's Operational Range Clearance (ORC) Program is designed to routinely clear munitions and target debris from the surface of these ranges. Range clearance begins with a visual inspection to sort munitions debris that might pose an explosive hazard from munitions debris that is stable. Specially trained technicians treat the explosive hazard debris on the range. All debris is then processed, and ultimately sent off-range for recycling.
During naval air-to-ground training exercises, targets may get damaged or sometimes destroyed. Target debris is collected, processed, and ultimately recycled.
Qualified technicians using specialized equipment remove spent munitions and target debris from the Navy training ranges. Clearance actions occur at all Navy land ranges..
Teams ensure that the fillers, fuses, and marking signals of the recovered munitions do not pose a safety hazard. Recovered munitions are demilitarized and certified as safe before processing and recycling efforts.
In accordance with governing regulations, munitions are processed to not resemble a bomb prior to being sent to a recycling facility..
By removing and recycling spent munitions and target debris, the Navy is proactively preventing environmental issues and safeguarding the environment.
Range Sustainability Environmental Program Assessment (RSEPA)
The Navy meets the requirements of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Navy instructions on conducting Operational Range Assessments by implementing the RSEPA program. The Navy developed RSEPA to aid in analyzing and addressing environmental concerns by implementing a systematic assessment program that is designed to sustain operational readiness while assessing the potential risks to human health and the environment.
RSEPA is conducted to ensure:
Range operations comply with existing environmental laws and regulation
Munitions constituents associated with training activities do not present an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment
Although the processes have some similarities, the RSEPA program is not an environmental clean-up program as prescribed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This is a proactive, self-assessment program to ensure environmental stewardship of Navy resources.
RSEPA assessments are conducted every five years. They may be conducted sooner when significant changes (e.g., changes in range operations, site conditions, applicable statues, regulations, DoD issuances, or other policies) occur that may affect determinations made during the previous assessment.