Congressional Oversight of Army EOD Program

Washington, D.C. The House of Representatives Armed Services Committee released a report on H.R. 1735, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2016 which included language regarding the oversight of the Army's EOD program. The report "recognizes the importance of the Army EOD force as a unique and highly technical enabler" and also the importance of Army EOD's role in supporting of civilian law enforcement authorities in contingency scenarios.

Over concerns that the Army has not cleared identified future capacity and capability requirements for its EOD force, the Committee has requested a briefing by December 1, 2015 to include:

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Senator Rubio Has a "Blast" at EOD School

Eglin, AFB, Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio visited the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal (NAVSCOLEOD) last week to tour the school and several of its practical training areas.

Rubio visited the EOD Memorial and the current military construction project at NAVSCOLEOD, which includes the establishment of training spaces for divisions that are currently housed in temporary facilities, as well as other infrastructure and security enhancements.

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Construction Begins on New Foreign Ordnance Exploration Center

Huntsville, Alabama A ground-breaking ceremony was held at Redstone Arsenal to mark the start of construction of the Missile and Space Intelligence Center's (MSIC's) Explosive Ordnance Exploitation complex. The $10M construction project is scheduled to take two years to complete with plans for the 25,000 square foot facility calling for seven stand-alone facilities and two open storage buildings. The explosive operations building will be used for missile disassembly and has four bays and an explosive proof infrastructure.

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National EOD Day Proposed

Washington, D.C. Representative Crawford (R- Arkansas) introduced a Resolution in the House to designate the first Saturday in May as National EOD Day. The Resolution also calls for the designation of the infamous 'Initial Success or Total Failure' motto to be adopted as the official motto of the EOD organizations in the United States Armed Forces.

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Bill From Colorado Lawmakers Influences Mineral Rights on Ranges

Denver, Colorado A tentative lease for mineral rights associated with the former Lowry Bombing Range is in jeopardy from a bill introduced by Colorado lawmakers to impose strict rules for fracking near hazardous waste sites including sites with munitions and explosives. The mineral rights associated with the former Lowry Bombing Range are controlled by the Colorado State Land Board. The Land Board who over sees approximately 4 million acres of land typically solicits bids from energy companies for rights to access the natural resources including oil and natural gas. Reportedly, ConocoPhillips agreed to a $137M lease for oil and natural gas rights underneath the 21,000 acre former Lowry Bombing Range. The lease was approved by the Land Board in January.

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Capitol Hill Forms EOD Caucus

Washington, D.C. Congressman Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas), a former Army EOD Technician in the late 1980s, serves as co-chair along with Congresswoman Susan Davis, of California, of the recently formed House EOD Caucus. The 19-member caucus was formed to educate lawmakers on how the importance of EOD on the Global War on Terror including counter-IED operations.

To promote the newly formed caucus, more than a dozen EOD soldiers from the 55th EOD unit out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia were invited to the inaugural event to showcase various technologies used by EOD. On display were interrogation technologies such as X-rays systems, personnel protection gear including newly design bomb suits, and various IED defeat tools.

EOD Caucus
Pictured - Congressman Crawford, Congresswoman Davis, Staff Sgt. Josh Bowden, and Pvt. 1st Class Thomas McCockill of the 55th EOD.

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Governor Weighs in on Stalemate Between USACE and State Regulators

Honolulu, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie declared an "emergency proclamation" to allow the USACE to remove UXO from state lands without the need to follow strict state laws. The decision ended a long battle between the State Regulators and the USACE over prerequisites required to support UXO removal actions. For example, the declaration eliminates the need for an Environmental Assessment in support of munitions disposal operations.

The reasons provided by the Governor's office regarding the decision included the protection of human health and the potential for loss of federal funds to address UXO in Hawaii if the USACE was not allowed to execute its work. The decision reportedly has outraged various environmental groups who feel that the Governor has over-stepped his authorities. In response, the Governor's office has issued a lengthy FAQ section to its website addressing the potential concerns that have been raised over the decision.

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Hawaii UXO Earmarks for FY2011 Defense Budget

Washington, D.C. The office of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii issued a news release on their website on the earmarks slated for Hawaii in the FY2011 Defense Appropriations Bill recently approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations. The earmarks include over $7M for UXO related projects including:

$1.75 million for initiatives related to military munitions, particularly along the Leeward Coast as part of the $5M Army Conservation and Ecosystem Management Funds to support the Army's stewardship of the land through ordnance monitoring, fire control management, and community outreach.

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More Refined Tracking Requirements For MMRP Proposed

Washington, D.C. Lawmakers are debating the FY10 National Defense Authorization Act in Congress. Although the funding levels for FY10 UXO cleanup are still being debated, some lawmakers are asking for more refined cost tracking of MMRP budgets. This is evident in House Bill HR 2647 which includes a section on "Military Munitions Response Sites" (sec 318). Section 318 requires DoD to track MMRP funding requests annually by State and County. Previous Annual Reports to Congress only tracked MMRP funding by State.

Congressional Testimony on Lessons Learned in FUDS MMRP

Washington, D.C. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released testimony that was presented to the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives covering "Lessons Learned from the Cleanup of FUDS and Military Munitions Sites". While the testimony focused on the Spring Valley site as the primary example, the lessons learned summarized and presented were applicable to the FUDS munitions program as a whole. The lessons learned were broken down into four themes including:

  • Impacts that shortcomings in available information and guidance can have on decision-making.

  • Impacts that incomplete data on site conditions and emerging contaminants can have on the development of cost estimates and schedules.

  • How funding may be influenced or impacted by overall program goals and other priorities.

  • How better coordination is needed among regulators and property owners to increase public confidence in the program.

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