Demonstration projects were sought for technologies to detect, classify, or remediate military munitions found at underwater sites. Technologies that will facilitate management of underwater munitions sites are also of interest. Capabilities are needed for a wide variety of aquatic environments such as ponds, lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastal and open ocean areas. Munitions of interest range from small projectiles and mortars to large bombs, although proposals need not address the entire range of potential munitions with a single solution. Many of the sites of interest have depths less than 5 meters although water depths up to 35 meters are of concern.
Proposed technologies should have completed required proof-of-concept work showing evidence of the technology’s capabilities. Initial demonstrations may be at a controlled test site, in which case subsequent testing at live munitions response sites will depend on the performance demonstrated during the controlled tests. Demonstrations directly on live sites, with appropriate supporting performance information, will also be considered.
Technologies applicable to the detection and remediation of explosives in soil or groundwater are not responsive to this topic but may be relevant to the ESTCP Environmental Restoration program area.
ESTCP has particular interest in technologies addressing the following topics:
Geophysical Description of Live Sites. Effective and efficient use of detection, localization, and classification systems requires a detailed knowledge of the geophysical environment in which they will operate. Methods and techniques to provide that information are requested. Attention to scales of typical ordnance is required to anticipate the clutter conditions of the sites. Areal scales of sites range from 100’s to 1000’s of km2. Some locations will, in addition to spatial scale variability, have hydrodynamic variability, requiring a time-based element of condition(s) change.
Wide Area and/or Detailed Survey Techniques. Systems are needed to cost-effectively survey large (kilometer-scale) areas to identify concentrations of munitions. Tools are also sought to provide evidence an area may have been used infrequently or may not have been used for munitions-related activities. SERDP & ESTCP has developed a full range of physics-based sensors and will continue to support transition to operational status; the program will continue to monitor sensor research progress for novel, innovative advances that have potential for use.
Cost-Effective Recovery and Disposal Methods. Improved and innovative methods are urgently needed to recover munitions cost-effectively and safely from the underwater environment. Current practices employing divers for manual retrieval of targets are typically dangerous and expensive. Proposals should focus on recovery in the shallow water environment where munitions are likely to be encountered by the public (to depths routinely accessed by recreational divers) and should address explosive safety issues. Consideration of robotic methods for retrieval and removal are encouraged. Cost-effective, safe, and environmentally acceptable remediation techniques are also needed for underwater items that cannot be moved due to explosive safety concerns and where blow-in-place operations underwater can significantly impact marine life and place chemicals into the human food chain. Thought must be given to means of isolation for this circumstance, isolation of both the explosive process and the resultant debris.
Mobility and Transport of Munitions. SERDP and ESTCP have been supporting research involving the burial and/or mobility of underwater munitions when subjected to underwater environmental forces. An understanding of geophysical conditions coupled with munition properties at the transition point of stationary to mobile behavior is a critical goal.
Relevant existing projects can be viewed on the ESTCP website.
Results from this work will provide expanded capability to cost-effectively characterize, remediate, and manage munitions response sites in the underwater environment and to deploy advanced technologies for a wide diversity of site conditions.
Many active and former military installations have ranges and training areas that include adjacent water environments such as ponds, lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastal ocean areas. In other sites, training and testing areas were deliberately situated in water environments. Disposal and accidents have also generated significant munitions contamination in the coastal and inland waters in the United States. Munitions may migrate in the fluid underwater environment, and it is not uncommon for munitions to wash on shore during storm events. Dredging projects frequently encounter munitions.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the U.S. Navy have identified more than 400 underwater sites that are potentially contaminated with munitions. Most areas are in shallow water (0-35 m) where the munitions pose a threat to human health and the environment. Some of these sites date back to the 18th century and others were used as recently as this decade. Property potentially containing munitions in underwater environments exceeds 10 million acres.