Environmental missions

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages one of the largest federal environmental missions: restoring degraded ecosystems, constructing sustainable facilities, regulating waterways, managing natural resources, and cleaning up contaminated sites from past military activities.

Our environmental programs support the warfighter and military installations worldwide as well as USACE public recreation facilities throughout the country. In 2002, USACE adopted its seven Environmental Operating Principles, or green ethics, which guide our environmental and sustainability.

USACE works in partnership with other federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions to find innovative solutions to challenges that affect everyone – sustainability, climate change, endangered species, environmental cleanup, ecosystem restoration and more.

Formerly Used Defense Sites

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Formerly Used Defense Sites Program, or FUDS, aims to reduce human health and the environment risks that are the result of past Department of Defense activities at formerly used DOD properties. These properties range from privately owned farms to national parks.

Baltimore District administers the FUDS program for properties in Virginia.

The FUDS Program cleans up only DOD-generated pollution that occurred before transfer of property to private, federal, state or local government owners. The DOD does not own the property that FUDS is cleaning up, but works hand-in-hand with current property owners and regulators during cleanup efforts.

A FUDS cleanup process takes part in three phases:

Phase 1 is the inventory phase, which determines whether the property was used by the DOD, and, if contamination is present, it resulted from DOD activity.

Phase 2 is the investigation phase, which determines the nature and extent of the contamination.

Phase 3 is the cleanup phase. This phase cleans up the property to protect human health, safety and the environment.


Image of FNOD mapIn 1987, Former Nansemond Ordnance Depot  became a matter of public concern when a piece of crystalline TNT was found at Tidewater Community College's Portsmouth campus. This initiated extensive historical research, investigations, testing and removal actions. As a result of these findings, the Environmental Protection Agency placed this site on the National Priorities List in 1999.

Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the FUDS project at Former Nansemond Ordnance Depot. Project support is also provided by Huntsville District, USACE's Center for Expertise on ordnance-related issues, and Baltimore District for other restoration efforts.

Plum Tree Island

Image of Plum Tree IslandPlum Tree Island National Wildlife Refuge, formerly known as the Plum Tree Island Range, was used by the Defense Department for aerial bombing and gunnery practice from 1917 through the late 1950s. With the exception of waterfowl hunting by permit on Cow Island, the entire refuge remains closed to all public use due to the potential for encountering unexploded ordnance.

Known extensive usage of the southern portion of the refuge for bombing and the presence of unexploded ordnance along the shoreline has prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish a danger zone in the shallow water along the southern half of the refuge. This danger zone is marked by warning signs, and disturbance of the sediment bottom is prohibited.

The refuge is being addressed in accordance with the Formerly Used Defense Site program, conducted by USACE under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, commonly known as Superfund. Baltimore District, Army Corps of Engineers has project management authority for all FUDS properties in the commonwealth of Virginia.

USACE and their contractor, Shaw Environmental, Inc., completed the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study of the refuge, working within certain timeframes to avoid wildlife disturbance on the refuge.

 The fieldwork consisted of limited shoreline munitions clearance so the team could safely access and collect geophysical information within the interior of the site, using sub-surface metal detecting. The team also surveyed selected site areas to reveal where munitions of concern may be present in the subsurface, and collect and analyze environmental samples to determine if chemical contaminants have entered the environment. This process helped identify areas that may require future cleanup work.


A Decision Document was approved by USACE HQ in September 2019, which specifies selected final remedies and outlines long-term land use controls for the eight (8) former range areas at the site. Remedial Design is underway, including coordinating for safety education and outreach with USFWS, designing land use controls and assessing potential approaches for UXO removal that may minimize environmental disturbance at the site. Click here to access the full Decision Document. (http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/Portals/63/docs/Environmental/FUDS/Plum_Tree_FUDS_DD_web.pdf)

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