A History of FUDS - Formerly Used Defense Sites

USACE - Louisville District
Published Oct. 15, 2021
Updated: Oct. 4, 2021

Have you ever wondered about the history of the Formerly Used Defense Sites and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involvement?

To get a better understanding of the FUDS program, let’s begin with a look at our country’s history.

Throughout the formation of this nation, Department of Defense installations were built to support military readiness, expand training capability during conflict and test warfare capabilities.
As training and testing needs changed, the properties, which were no longer used, were disposed of by DOD, transferring the properties to other owners for private or public uses.

As public environmental awareness increased, Congress formally established the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) in 1986. FUDS, a program within DERP, provides for the environmental restoration or cleanup of DoD contamination at properties that were formerly owned by, leased to or otherwise possessed by the United States and under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Defense and were transferred from DoD control prior to 17 October 1986.

USACE executes the FUDS program on behalf of the U.S. Army and DOD by investigating and, if required, cleaning up potential DoD contamination or munitions that may remain on FUDS properties. Using a risk-based approach for prioritizing work, USACE collaborates with regulators and stakeholders to ensure that higher risk sites are addressed first.

Activities performed on FUDS properties are classified into three primary programs which include the Installation Restoration Program, Military Munitions Response Program and Building Demolition and Debris Removal program. 

USACE investigates potential DoD contaminants and provides the cleanup of hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants released as a result of DoD activities through the IRP. The MMRP addresses DoD release of unexploded ordnance, discarded military munitions and munitions constituents. The removal of unsafe buildings and structures at FUDS properties that were transferred to state, local governments, or Native Corporations of Alaska is addressed through the BD/DR program.

In addition to DERP, Congress passed the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act in 1986, which amended the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980. This amendment established the DERP, authorizing the Secretary of Defense to carry out response actions with respect to DoD releases of hazardous substances from active installation and FUDS. Where DOD may share responsibility with a third party or subsequent owner, those sites are addressed through a Potentially Responsible Party project. Louisville District is the PRP District for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division.

The Louisville District current FUDS Program includes projects in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan and has managed more than $12 million in restoration efforts in FY21.