Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Unexploded Ordnance (Paperback)
The Defense Science Board Task Force on Unexploded Ordnance, UXO, met from September 2002 to May 2003. The Task Force's charter contained two principal questions: (1) can advanced technology help reduce the very high cost of UXO cleanup at former and current test and training sites and (2) can advanced technology help minimize the environmental impact of future live-fire munitions training? The Task Force's answer to both these questions is a qualified "yes".Today's UXO cleanup problem is massive in scale with some 10 million acres of land involved. Estimated cleanup costs are uncertain but are clearly tens of billions of dollars. This cost is driven by the digging of holes in which no UXOs are present. The instruments used to detect UXOs (generally located underground) produce many false alarms, -i.e., detections from scrap metal or other foreign or natural objects-, for every detection of a real unexploded munition found. Because each of these false alarms could potentially be a UXO, a careful excavation is required, leading to very high costs. The Task Force believes that modern technology can substantially reduce such false alarms leading to a dramatic reduction in overall cleanup cost. Some substantial changes in cleanup management structure are needed to foster the deployment of such technology.Much of the aforementioned 10 million acres is free of UXOs and this land could be returned to public use relatively quickly. The Task Force recommends an aggressive five-year program to accomplish this release.The Task Force concluded that technology can also help with future environmental problems associated with live-fire testing. The DoD uses over two million rounds of high explosive munitions per year for training purposes. Thus we are continuing to produce UXOs at a substantial rate. The Task Force believes that the future problem can be controlled by a variety of measures. First, we should carefully examine this extensive use of live munitions in training. Simulation techniques and inert rounds can reduce the number of live rounds actually used. Second, environmentally friendly "green" munitions are being developed. These green munitions combined with a significant improvement in fuze reliability, especially for medium caliber rounds, offer our best solution for the longer term.There is an emerging problem of chemical constituents of UXOs leaching into the ground water and possibly contaminating public water supplies. This is a volatile issue, an issue which has alrea9y closed down one major test facility. It deserves careful attention by the DoD .The Task Force recommendations, if implemented, can save tens of billions of dollars in future cleanup costs and can preserve the ability of the DoD to control its own destiny and to conduct live-fire testing into the distant future. The funding impact of the Task Force recommendations is not great considering the dollars to be saved downstream. Current DoD spending on the UXO problem is about $200 million per year. The implementation of the Task Force recommendations would require a rough doubling of this yearly funding.