Camp Ravenna burning grounds repurposed for training ranges

Published March 1, 2018
Ravenna Restoration

Excavation sites were graded and reseeded with native grasses at the completion of the remedial action at the former Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant in Ohio.

The Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant Environmental Restoration Team has earned high honors from the Secretary of the Army for cleanup efforts at Camp Ravenna in Ohio, which have allowed for construction of two critical training ranges for the Ohio Army National Guard.

The environmental restoration team, which is a multi-agency team composed of the Ohio Army National Guard (OHARNG), Army National Guard (ARNG), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), has the critical mission of investigating and remediating more than 80 contamination sites across the installation to enable military training.

“Along with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) our team worked together to come to a timely resolution of a long-standing cleanup obstacle and the creation of two critical training resources on the installation,” said Craig Coombs, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Project Manager.

The team targeted a key cleanup challenge at the 200-acre Winklepeck Burning Grounds, a former open burning area used for munitions disposal from the 1940s to the 1990s. There, bulk explosives, munitions debris and ash were left onsite, and restrictions hindered the construction and functionality of new ranges.

The more than 21,000-acre Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center in northeast Ohio is the primary training resource for the Ohio Army National Guard, but historical contamination remaining from the former ammunition plant’s operations necessitated environmental cleanup before military training operations could expand.

The original BRAC cleanup action placed digging and use restrictions on the site, restricted future development of the site, and required quarterly monitoring of the 30-mile perimeter fence around the installation.

In order to repurpose the Winklepeck Burning Grounds into two functioning training ranges—the MK-19 grenade range and the Multi-Purpose Machine Gun Range—the environmental restoration team had to come up with a comprehensive site solution.

“As a team we had to come up with a result that would lift the existing restrictions on the MK-19 range and allow for construction of the newly proposed Multi-Purpose Machine Gun Range,” said Coombs. “We had to do additional investigations and remediation that would achieve that less restrictive end use.”

Part of that process involved negotiating risk assessment parameters with the Ohio EPA to allow for a more flexible reuse of the site. Ultimately, the Ohio EPA agreed to a Commercial/Industrial designation for the site, meaning only one Land Use Control, pertaining to soil contamination, would remain: non-residential use only. Due to the potential presence of munitions-related items, explosives safety restrictions will remain in place.

“This was essential to proceeding with the additional cleanup action for Winklepeck Burning Grounds and the construction of the Multi-Purpose Machine Gun Range,” said Coombs. “The process of working through this has helped our team improve our relationship with the Ohio EPA in order to complete other remedial actions at the facility.”

Soils contaminated with explosives and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were removed in 2017. The removal included excavation and disposal of 5,250 cubic yards of soil, demolition of 26 munitions, recycling of 700 pounds of scrap metal and site restoration with native grasses.

The Multi-Purpose Machine Gun range will be constructed in Fiscal Year 2019 and with the remedial action complete, crews will have full ability to build and configure the range as designed.

“The new training range will benefit all training Soldiers in the coming decades and reaffirms the compatibility of training with environmental stewardship,” said Coombs. “We are happy to have played a part in this one and are honored to have received the Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for the project.”