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Range Design and Management for reduced Environmental Impact

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Applied Vehicle Technology

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Demolition, Energetics, Environment, Metals, Mitigation, Munitions characterization, Preventive measures, Range design, Range Management, Remediation


Military readiness is critical to NATO and its allies. To achieve military readiness, live-fire training with a wide variety of munitions on significantly large tracts of land is required. If not managed properly, live-fire training can have considerable impacts on human health and the environment, which can jeopardize the very existence of these training ranges. Range contamination has led to groundwater contamination in several countries, resulting in some cases in the loss of ranges, large monetary penalties, and significant clean-up costs. When designing a new range, conducting range maintenance, or modernizing an existing range, many factors must be considered. These factors include safety and security, noise, contamination of soil and water, and human and environmental exposure to toxic materials resulting from the use of munitions. Range sustainability is an important issue for NATO. The Connected Forces Initiative is a major NATO thrust that will require larger, more intensive use of training ranges. There is a real concern that this increased tempo of training will adversely impact our ranges. The work conducted by the NATO AVT-197 technical group allowed a better understanding of range contamination, fate and transport, and toxicity resulting form live-fire training (STO Technical Report TR-AVT-197). AVT-197 was followed by a Specialists’ Meeting on Range Contamination, AVT-244, with over 15 Nations represented (STO Meeting Proceedings MP-AVT-244). Segments of the Technical Report will be demonstrated through a CDT in the UK in October 2016 (AVT-249). The next logical step is the implementation of mitigation methods or permanent solutions to reduce and prevent environmental contamination of ranges. The proposed activity will focus on innovative technology and design practices that will help ensure that the accumulation of munitions constituents does not occur at concentrations that will result in adverse effects to the environment. Topics to be covered will include the minimization and mitigation of energetics and metals contamination in soils, noise impacts and its reduction, prevention of surface and groundwater contamination, and monitoring and prevention of the migration of contaminants off range. All these issues have jeopardized military range operations in the past. The measures and concepts discussed by the group are anticipated to result in a set of technical recommendations that will enable the minimization of live-fire training environmental impacts on operational training ranges.


The primary objective of the group will be to exchange information and discuss current practices and research on the topics of military training range design and management to minimize environmental impacts. To reach a NATO-wide audience, we will produce a technical reference document on range design and management for reduced environmental impact related to soil, water, and air, including noise. To accomplish this, an information exchange on range design and mitigation solutions developed by each country will be conducted during each panel business week meeting. Through a consolidation and agreement by member nations, we will develop and prioritize technical guidelines for range design and management. Some countries have already initiated the development of solutions such as filter technology and treatment ponds, phytoremediation, and development of new range designs that will mitigate the negative impacts of the training on the environment. This information will be disseminated to member nations to evaluate. Discussions will take place amongst the participating countries to evaluate and improve these new range designs presented or proposed by members of the group. We believe that implementing innovative monitoring, mitigation, and remediation technologies on current ranges and incorporating new criteria into future range designs will lead to more sustainable ranges for all countries. We also anticipate that, by taking a more technical approach to range design and maintenance, the increased size and tempo of NATO training as set out in the Connected Forces Initiative can be safely implemented. The pooling of member nations’ knowledge will save time and money as our efforts can be leveraged against each other. The recommendations from the group are anticipated to be derived from research, the progressive development of practices, and trials by the participating members’ current military training range programs. A joint document should lead to a higher level of acceptance of the group’s recommendations by the various environmental authorities. A follow-on Specialists’ Meeting, such as AVT-244, is likely to be considered.


1. Current practices that have been implemented to prevent or mitigate the negative impacts from live-fire training on various types of training ranges. 2. Innovative solutions currently being considered through research and development to mitigate negative impacts on training ranges on which energetic compounds or heavy metals will be used. 3. Prevention and mitigation of noise and contaminant migration off training ranges. 4. Software, mapping, and models that can be used to track munitions use, composition, risk assessment, life-cycle costs, and environmental management systems on ranges. 5. Large and small-scale range design and remediation will be covered. New munitions and their requirements will be considered.

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