Environmental Cleanup & Compliance

Defense Environmental Restoration Program

The Department of Defense (DoD) is committed to taking cleanup actions to protect and sustain human health and the environment and sustain our operational capacity. DoD conducts its cleanup program, the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP), in accordance with the federal cleanup laws, and addresses hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants, and munitions at three types of properties in the United States:

  • Active installations. Bases where DoD conducts training and operations.
  • Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) locations. Installations that are being or have been closed; or are being realigned by BRAC but are still under the jurisdiction of DoD; and those properties that have been transferred out of DoD by the BRAC process, but where DoD retained restoration responsibilities.
  • Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) properties. Facilities or sites that were under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Defense and owned by, leased to, or otherwise possessed by the United States at the time of actions leading to contamination by hazardous substances. The FUDS program is limited to those real properties that were transferred from DoD control prior to October 17, 1986.

DoD has been addressing contamination from its past releases since establishing the Installation Restoration Program (IRP) in 1975. In 2001, DoD established the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP) under the DERP to address defense sites (e.g., closed military ranges) known or suspected to contain unexploded ordnance, discarded military munitions, or munitions constituents. Through these programs, DoD complies with the Federal cleanup law, which is called the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act or CERCLA, also known as Superfund.

The Department remains focused on continuously improving its environmental restoration program through policy initiatives and guidance, which facilitate the development of technologies to improve efficiency and effectiveness, reduce costs, and accelerate cleanup. These initiatives and guidance ensure that DoD makes the best use of available resources to steadily move sites through the cleanup process while protecting human health and the environment.

DoD also partners with regulatory and community stakeholders throughout the cleanup process to promote transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Partnering is vital to ensuring DoD makes holistic, informed decisions that support individuals, communities, and the military’s operational mission.

Compliance Program

The Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) environmental responsibilities are extensive, diverse, and support its mission to ensure our nation's security. DoD manages over 26 million acres of land, and the related air and water resources needed to accomplish this mission.

The DoD Environmental Compliance Program provides resources to comply with a multitude of environmental laws and directives, including federal, state, and local laws and regulations in the United States and environmental obligations overseas.

The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment and Energy Resilience oversees and develops policies, guidance, and program objectives for the Department’s Environmental Compliance Program that meet requirements protecting air quality, clean water, safe drinking water, and non-hazardous and hazardous waste.

Air Quality. Many of DoDs military missions and the equipment used during these operations requires permits designed to regulate emissions and protect air quality, and DoD must comply with permit terms and conditions. DoD implements policies, procedures, program objectives, and best management practices to ensure air quality is protected across the military departments.

Clean Water. DoD operations generate point source (e.g., industrial and sewage treatment plants) and non-point source discharges (e.g., stormwater runoff) to surface waters, which can affect surface water quality. In addition to addressing these discharges as they occur, the Department implements policies to manage domestic and industrial wastewater and stormwater effectively to protect public health, meet clean water standards, and maximize operational flexibility. Further, the Department is committed to protecting watersheds and ensuring there is enough capacity to support point and non-point source discharges.

Safe Drinking Water. The Department is committed to ensuring safe drinking water for approximately two million people living and working on its installations worldwide. In the United States and its territories, these public water systems, many of which are owned and managed by DoD, supply drinking water to our military installations and must comply with National Primary Drinking Water Regulations administered under the Safe Drinking Water Act. DoD’s overseas public water systems must comply with final governing standards (FGS) established by DoD. The FGS include requirements from international agreements and host country environmental standards.

Waste. DoD activities generate both non-hazardous and hazardous waste in routine operations. DoD has developed policies and processes to reduce or divert non-hazardous solid waste, manage the disposal of other non-hazardous waste, and control hazardous waste releases through proper generation, transportation, storage, and disposal practices. In the United States, DoD complies with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which regulates the management and disposal of all hazardous waste.