Meeting informs public of actions to clean up formerly used defense site

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published Feb. 10, 2015
Follow the 3Rs of Explosive Safety:

Follow the 3Rs of Explosive Safety: Recognize Retreat Report

A public meeting Feb. 12 in Centreville, Mississippi, will provide interested individuals with information about a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers investigation for potential munitions at the former Camp Van Dorn, a 41,544-acre Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) located in Wilkinson and Amite counties, Mississippi.

Camp Van Dorn is one of more than 4,800 FUDS locations the military used to train Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines, as well as to test new weapons and warfare capabilities.

After wartime, many of these properties were no longer needed, and they were cleaned up using the best practices available at the time before being transferred to other owners. Congress established the FUDS Program in the mid-1980s to restore properties formerly owned by, leased to or otherwise possessed by the United States and under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Defense. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for implementing this program.

“We meet with the public to let everyone know what we will be doing as it relates to the site,” said Chris Cochrane, a project manager with the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville. Huntsville Center is supporting USACE’s Mobile District on this project. “Plus, we need to obtain rights-of-entry before we can access any private property. Almost all FUDS are on privately owned land.”

“We want everyone to understand what we are doing, and also provide guidance on what to do if they encounter suspected munitions,” Cochrane said. “We call it the Three R’s – Recognize, Retreat, Report. If anyone finds what they think might be unexploded ordnance, we don’t want them to pick it up. We want them to leave the area and immediately report what they found to the proper authorities. In most cases, all people have to do to report a UXO find is dial 911 and describe the location.”


First, a Remedial Investigation will be used to identify concentrated munitions use areas and determine the nature and extent of munitions-related contamination at the Camp Van Dorn FUDS. The Remedial Investigation Report will explain how the investigation was conducted, present the data collected, evaluate the risk associated with munitions and summarize the conclusions.

A follow-on Feasibility Study Report will evaluate remedial alternatives for addressing hazards that may be identified in the Remedial Investigation.

The Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study will be conducted in accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Section 104, and the National Contingency Plan (NCP), Sections 300.120(d)-300.400(e).

These documents adhere to the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for FUDS and U.S. Army regulations and guidance for Munitions and Explosives of Concern programs.


Field work is expected to start in early 2016 and will take approximately six months.

The primary focus of the upcoming investigation will be the areas suspected of past munitions use based on historic records and prior investigations. The investigation will use digital geophysical mapping to identify “anomalies” that are suspected to be munitions. Once the geophysical investigation is completed, selected anomalies will be intrusively investigated (manual digging) to characterize the munitions and explosives of concern. Results of the investigation and will also be used to focus the collection of soil samples for the investigation of munitions constituents.


The Camp Van Dorn FUDS is located in the southwestern region of the state, just north of the Louisiana border, near Centreville, Mississippi.

During World War II, the installation was established as a U.S. Army basic and advanced divisional infantry training camp. Ordnance training took place at multiple ranges and designated impact areas across the camp.

Troop training included use of bayonets, mines, booby traps, bazookas, grenades, rifles, machine guns and field artillery.

After World War II, Camp Van Dorn was declared surplus and clearance activities were conducted. A Certificate of Clearance was issued in 1950: it recommended that two former impact areas be restricted to surface use only, and all other inspected artillery and bombing ranges could be used for any suitable purpose. Ownership of the former Camp Van Dorn land was transferred by October 1950. Since then, there have been numerous ordnance finds within the FUDS.

The lands within the former Camp Van Dorn are currently owned by many private individuals, and the majority of the land is used for pasture and timber land with scattered private residences. However, land use is changing rapidly with oil and gas development and small residential ranches.