River River Drops of rain on a leaf

News Release
December 17, 2002

Open Detonations of 400 Military Munitions Planned at Camp Edwards

Camp Edwards, Mass. — Several open detonations are scheduled Thursday to destroy 349 3.5-inch practice rockets and 51 40-millimeter practice projectiles. The items will be detonated between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Camp Edwards on the Massachusetts Military Reservation.

All of the detonations will be conducted at least a mile from any base boundary. There is no risk to nearby residents.

Experts for the Groundwater Program determined that all these items contain non-explosive filler. However, they do contain a small, but still dangerous, amount of explosives designed to make the munitions detonate when they hit their target. This makes the items unsafe to move to a safe storage facility, so they will be destroyed on the former training ranges where they were discovered.

The 349 practice rockets were found on or just below the surface during clearing and investigation of an area known as the U-Range. Located north of the Central Impact Area, this range formerly was used for practice firing with a variety of rockets, mortars and similar military munitions.

The 51 practice projectiles were discovered during the excavation of a munitions burial and burn pit, in the area known as the J-2 Range. This is one of several ranges on the southeast corner of the base previously used for training and defense contractor testing.

Both ranges are being investigated as part of the Groundwater Program’s Munitions Survey Project. Along with 22 other former training or defense contractor testing ranges, the U-Range and J-2 Range are being searched for sites where munitions might have been buried or burned for training or demolition purposes.

More than 3,000 munitions items have been found in the U-Range investigation Approximately 1,700 munitions items were excavated in just one portion of the J-2 Range burial/burn site where the projectiles were found. Thousands of munitions have been uncovered in this area of the J-2 Range.

Whenever possible, munitions that don’t contain explosives are recycled as scrap. Those that potentially contain explosives, but are safe to move, are taken to a safe storage facility for future destruction in a contained detonation chamber. Military munitions are only destroyed in open detonations when explosive experts determine moving them presents a safety risk.

Following any open detonation, soil is tested for residual explosive compounds. If contamination is found, the soil is covered and scheduled for removal and disposal in accordance with applicable regulations.

The Groundwater Program, led by the National Guard Bureau, has been working since 1997 to protect public health and the environment by investigating and cleaning up the groundwater-related impacts of historic training and disposal activities at Camp Edwards on the northern 15,000 acres of the Massachusetts Military Reservation. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection oversee the program.

For further information on Groundwater Study Program activities, log on to

# # #

For more information, contact:
Christine Dolen, Groundwater Study Program, (508) 968-5629
Todd Borci, EPA New England Region 1, (617) 918-1358 or (888) 372-7341 ext. 81358
Ellie Grillo, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, (508) 946-2866

Site Map | Related Links | Comments/Contact Us | Search | Home
Administrative Notice