Guide for Characterization of Sites Contaminated
with Energetic Materials
SONIA THIBOUTOT, GUY AMPLEMAN, AND ALAN D. HEWITT
One possible consequence of munitions development and testing is the
and propellants. Despite the potential for widespread contamination, there con-
tinues to be an operational need for deployment of these materials. Testing and
training with conventional weapons on ranges is a necessary function for main-
taining armed services combat readiness. To ensure that such activities can be
conducted on a sustainable basis, without long-term ecological damage or risk to
human health, range-management practices need to be developed that help mini-
mize the impact of explosives and their by-products in soils, water, air, and biota.
No comprehensive study has yet been undertaken to characterize the quantities,
transport properties, or outcomes of energetic materials and their by-products in
the environment. The task of identifying the extent of contamination becomes
complicated when the contaminants are energetic materials. Energetic materials
do not behave like other known soil or water contaminants and pose a significant
hazard when unexploded ordnance is also present.
The end of the Cold War has resulted in the closure of many military bases
and munitions production sites. At the same time, a growing awareness has arisen
in environmental issues that has led to the adoption of R&D programs related to
the environmental impact of energetic materials. It is within this context that an
effort was proposed to develop a protocol for the characterization of sites poten-
tially contaminated by energetic materials. Many sites, such as impact areas,
training ranges, demolition, and open burning/open detonation (OB/OD) ranges,
used to destroy out-of-specification materials are likely to be contaminated with
energetic substances (Jenkins and Walsh 1987, Major et al. 1991, Cragin et al.
1985, Selim and Iskandar 1994, Fellows et al. 1992, EPA Handbook 1993).
Former explosive manufacturing sites are also likely to be contaminated with
energetic compounds. The handling of wastewater during the manufacturing