- What is it?
The IRP is a comprehensive program designed to address contamination from past activities and restore Army lands to useable conditions. It is one of two programs established under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) to identify, investigate and clean up hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants that pose environmental health and safety risks at active military installations and formerly used defense sites (FUDS). The IRP was established in 1975 and is achieving successful restoration of more than 12,000 identified active Army environmental cleanup sites. Restoration activities are already at response complete at more than 11,000 of those sites.
The U.S. Army Environmental Command is responsible for cleanup at active/operating installations under the IRP and the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP), the other DERP program that was established in FY 2009.
IRP response actions (i.e., site identification, investigation, removal actions, remedial actions, or a combination of removal and remedial actions) to correct other environmental damage (such as the detection and disposal of unexploded ordnance) that poses an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare or to the environment, are conducted in accordance with the provisions of U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act of 1980, EOs 12580 and 13016, and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) (40 CFR Part 300).
- What has the Army done?
The Army measures cleanup progress at IRP sites, against two milestones: Remedy in Place (RIP), which occurs when cleanup systems are constructed and operational; and Response Complete (RC), which occurs when the site finishes cleanup activities (though the Army or a subsequent owner may continue to monitor the remedy). Of the total 12,699 remediation sites identified by the Army Cleanup Program to date, 11,501 (91 percent) are in RC status. Work is ongoing at 1,198 remaining sites.
The Army publishes Installation Action Plans (IAPs), which is the key planning document in the management and execution of installations with IRPs. The IAP outlines the total multi-year integrated, coordinated approach to achieving an installation’s cleanup goals. The plan is used by the U.S. Army Environmental Command, Army Materiel Command (AMC), Installation Management Command, the National Guard Bureau (NGB), and other Army commands and installations and presents the approach an installation will use to clean up its sites.
In addition, the Department of Defense annually submits a report to Congress (ARC) on its Defense Environmental Programs (DEP). The DEPARC describes the Department's accomplishments during the past year in its restoration, conservation, compliance, and pollution prevention programs by addressing plans and funding needs for protecting human health, sustaining the resources DoD holds in the public trust, meeting its environmental requirements, and supporting the military mission. The status of the Army’s IRP is included in the DOD’s report. The DEPARC shows the current status of the cleanup program including the sites still awaiting cleanup (Total Site Inventory), as well as the number and percentage of sites reaching RIP and RC.
- What does the Army have planned?
The Army continues to follow DERP guidance and the Army Environmental Cleanup Strategy in identifying, investigating, and remediating risks from substances and practices previously used in Army operations. The Army is committed to correcting contamination posing an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public health or welfare, or the environment and to restoring Army land to usable condition to enable training, readiness and mission accomplishment.
Each year, the Army publishes a Program Management Plan, documenting its environmental restoration goals for the following fiscal year. Along with IAPs, the Program Management Plan outlines the course of action for accomplishing efficient and cost effective remediation of Army lands and neighboring communities. The Army’s goal is for 95 percent of its IRP and MMRP sites to be at RC by the end of Fiscal Year 2021.
Through its public outreach efforts, the Army keeps communities informed and involved in its restoration activities, and provides opportunities for input into the cleanup process.
- Why is this important?
The IRP restores Army lands to usable condition, freeing previously-restricted land for other uses, most importantly training our Soldiers. This program also protects human health and the environment on Army installations and in neighboring communities.
Another important aspect of the Army Cleanup Program is tracking and reporting costs associated with environmental restoration, corrective actions, and response actions. Additionally, costs associated with environmental activities related to facility closures or activity terminations must also be tracked and reported. These costs are reported as Environmental Liabilities on the Army's various financial statements.