From 1917 until the inactivation of the 7th Infantry Division in 1994, Fort Ord was primarily a training and staging facility for the infantry. Many areas of the base had been used for military munitions training.
The Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board develops explosives safety standards for the Department of Defense. These standards (DoD 6055.09 – DESR) include safety standards for real property known or suspected to contain munitions and explosives of concern (MEC). This standard is incorporated into the Army Regulation 385-10 (The Army Safety Program) and further explained in Department of the Army Pamphlet 385-64 (Ammunition and Explosives Safety Standards).
In 1993 an archival investigation was conducted to locate areas at Fort Ord where military munitions may have been used. Additional archive searches, follow-on interviews and visual inspections conducted since 1993 indicated that approximately 12,000 acres were known or suspected to have been used for such training. Twenty-nine munitions response sites (MRSs) were identified in the Phase 1 Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA). The Phase 2 EE/CA established a process to evaluate the remaining sites. The areas range in size from less than one acre to more than 1,000 acres, although most of the areas are less than 200 acres. All identified MRSs have been investigated, and if warranted, MEC removal actions were conducted to minimize the explosive safety risk to the public. Types of MEC found at Fort Ord include artillery projectiles, rockets, hand grenades, practice land mines, pyrotechnics, bombs, demolition materials and other items.
In 1998, the Army began a comprehensive evaluation of past investigations and removal actions to develop remedial actions that will support long-term reuse of Fort Ord. These evaluations are documented in a series of remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) reports. These RI/FS reports supported several records of decision (ROD) as part of the Army’s Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP) at Fort Ord. The Fort Ord MMRP is being conducted in a manner consistent with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), incorporating an extensive public participation process, under regulatory oversight of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Toxic Substances Control.
- View Fort Ord Cleanup Reference Documents
- Click here to watch a 4 minute showing some of the aspects of munitions cleanup and investigation work at the former Fort Ord
Note: Metal detection is prohibited on Fort Ord due to the potential of remaining explosives hazards.
Track 3 Impact Area Munitions Response Area
The historical Impact Area is located in the southwestern portion of the former Fort Ord. The Impact Area contains several former ranges, with specific target areas having the highest densities of MEC. The Army is conducting a remedial action within a 6,560-acre portion of the Impact Area. This area is fenced, posted with warning signs, and is off-limits to unauthorized people.
Track 2 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Area B and MRS-16: The Northern Portion of the Fort Ord National Monument
In 1996, the Army transferred 7,205 acres to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the former Fort Ord to be managed as a habitat reserve. The property, which includes 86 miles of trails, is extensively used for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding by local residents and tourists. On April 20, 2012 the President designated these lands (as well as land pending transfer to the BLM as a habitat reserve) as the Fort Ord National Monument. During the long history of Fort Ord as an Army training facility, many areas were used for training involving military munitions. The training often resulted in munitions and explosives of concern or MEC remaining on those areas. The Army has conducted investigation, sampling, and removal of MEC within the transferred BLM lands.
Visitors who comply with posted restrictions and remain on designated trails on the Fort Ord National Monument are safe from munition risk. The Army conducted a comprehensive evaluation of BLM Area B (approximately 1500 acres) in terms of explosives safety. BLM Area B is located in the northern portion of the Fort Ord National Monument. This evaluation also included the final review of MRS-16, where removals of MEC were conducted following a prescribed burn in 2006.
Under this process, cleanup alternatives were evaluated to manage risks and support future designated use of the property as a habitat reserve with public access as a National Monument managed by BLM.
The final recommendations were summarized in a Proposed Plan. The Army received comments from the community during the 30-day public comment period for the Proposed Plan. After considering the public comments, a decision to conduct additional munitions cleanup in a portion of BLM Area B (approximately 800 acres) was made. The selected remedy is described in a Record of Decision that was signed on May 3, 2017.
- View the BLM Area B Factsheet
- View a BLM trail map that includes an outline of the BLM Area B and MRS-16
- View BLM online map
- View the Record of Decision
As of February 2020, all planned remedial actions were completed with the exception of Unit A.
Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement (ESCA)
To facilitate land transfer and reuse, the Army transferred property to Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) as part of an agreement known as the Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement (ESCA). In this 2007 agreement, FORA committed to completing the evaluation of MEC hazards on about 3,340 acres of the former Fort Ord and will take any remedial actions deemed necessary to protect human health and the environment with respect to MEC based on future uses. The Army provided funding to complete the munitions cleanup under the agreement. USEPA determined the completion of the munitions responses in February 2019. Land Use Controls were required in the majority of the sites addressed under the ESCA.
In 2017, FORA and the Army negotiated an ESCA Amendment for FORA to provide Long-Term Management of ESCA property Long-Term Obligations and provide for Post-Closure MEC Find Assessments until 2028. In this capacity, FORA will manage the Jurisdictions and their Developer (including public utilities) UXO Construction Support requests and needs including UXO Awareness Training and acting as the conduit between them, the Regulatory Agencies and Army when their Developer Construction Support needs are reviewed. In Fall of 2017, the Army awarded FORA $6.8 million dollars to provide this long-term management. As of June 15, 2020, the ESCA program is under the stewardship of the City of Seaside while continuing important cleanup efforts. Please contact Lesley Milton (LMilton@ci.seaside.ca.us or 831-899-6707) at the City of Seaside.
Changes to terminology for Army’s Munitions Cleanup Program
In 2003, the Army began implementing new terminology nationwide to describe its ordnance cleanup program. Numerous written materials relating to the munitions cleanup program at the former Fort Ord, such as Administrative Record documents, fact sheets, meeting minutes, and pages within this website that were created prior to 2004 include the old terminology. The new terminology is being incorporated into newly written materials as they become available.