USACE Partners for Cleanup of Former Missile Site in Iowa

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Omaha District’s environmental remediation team recently hosted a public meeting at the Rand Community Center in Missouri Valley, Iowa, to provide updates on an environmental investigation project for the former Offutt Air Force Base Atlas “D” Missile Site 3.

More than 60 members of the community attended the meeting, where they received information on the site’s history, environmental findings, current systems in place and the path forward.

Milton Sawyer, USACE Omaha District Environmental Remediation Branch project manager, was one of the district representatives in attendance for the meeting.

“During the Cold War, [the Department of Defense] operated missile sites,” Sawyer said. “Routine maintenance of these sites resulted in soil and groundwater contamination. USACE was delegated the authority by the Department of the Army for the cleanup of formerly defense sites. We are here because we care.”

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The study was directed by the Department of the Army as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to reduce and eliminate threats to human health and the environment. This act provides the basis for the remediation of hazardous waste sites to provide communities with a cleaner environment.

“Offutt [Site] 3 is a very complex site geologically, hydrologically and in regard to the number of residents on and near the site,” said Jessica Messerschmidt, an Omaha District Environmental Remediation Branch project geologist. “It is of great importance that we continue working diligently, thoroughly, and within the CERCLA process. We are committed to this project and to educating the stakeholders to cohesively work together to achieve remediation goals.”

The former Offutt AFB Atlas “D” Missile Site 3 is approximately four miles southeast of Missouri Valley, Iowa, and was one of three Atlas “D” missile sites operated by the U.S. Air Force. The property was acquired by the U.S. Government in 1958-1959 and used for the maintenance, storage, and potential launch of Atlas “D” intercontinental ballistic missiles. In 1965, Site 3 was declared excess property by the Department of Defense. The property is currently under private ownership for residential and agricultural use.

In-line granular activated carbon treatment systems were installed to treat drinking water as a precaution, at the request of area residents in response to the detection of groundwater contaminants in residential wells.

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The Omaha District has performed environmental investigations at the Former Offutt Air Force Base Missile Site 3, Formerly Used Defense site (FUDS) since 2012.

The DOD is responsible for the environmental restoration of properties that were formerly owned by, leased to, or otherwise possessed by the United States and under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Defense prior to October 1986. Such properties are known as Formerly Used Defense Sites or FUDS. The U.S. Army is DOD’s lead agency for the FUDS program. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers executes the FUDS program on behalf of the U.S. Army and DOD for the investigation of potential contamination or munitions that may remain on these properties from past DOD activities.