Munitions predating WWII were found in the northern slopes of Green Mountain in Hayden Park and reported to local authorities. This discovery set a series of response actions into motion. The Military Munitions Response Program, or MMRP, is a nationwide program of the Department of Defense and the various military services to address hazards posed by unexploded munitions left behind by military operations. Because munitions and munitions debris have been found near Green Mountain residential areas, the National Guard is obliged to continue to look for munitions-related material until it is no longer probable that munitions-related material will be found.
2. Why have I received calls and things in the mail about this issue?
The recently expanded investigation area includes 129 properties in the Green Mountain Estates and Mesa View Estates neighborhoods where additional munitions-related material might be found. Before munitions removal professionals can investigate, however, access to your property is required. Telephone calls and mailings were used to request permission or “Right of Entry” from home owners. More than 70 households signed and returned the Right of Entry form, enabling the field work portion of the investigation to continue in the neighborhoods bordering the northern slopes of Green Mountain.
3. I recall this issue from last winter. Is this work related?
Yes, this work is related to the investigations that were conducted in the Hayden Park area in 2015 and earlier in 2016. As more munitions-related material has been found, the investigation area has been expanded.
4. How are decisions about this situation being made? How will you know you are finished?
The National Guard is the lead agency with direct support from the Army Corps of Engineers and input from the local regulatory agencies, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Once the nature and extent of the munitions problem is understood, the team will evaluate different cleanup alternatives and propose a cleanup plan. The public will have an opportunity to share their thoughts on the best cleanup option for the site.
We researched records to determine where the artillery range operated in the past, but no clear records exist. To be conservative, an initial 135-acre boundary was expanded to 641 acres. Now, because munitions-related material continues to be found, the study area has been expanded into the nearby neighborhoods. The likelihood of munitions-related material being found in your neighborhood is small, but because it is possible, the National Guard is investigating the southern and western edges of the two neighborhoods located just beyond the northern slopes of Green Mountain and Hayden Park. There is no record of home construction companies encountering old munitions when the neighborhoods were built.
5. What happens when munitions items are found?
Field workers will mark the location and determine the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) coordinates to use when they return to either remove the item or determine the item does not warrant removal.
Once a property has had its initial investigation, a return visit may not be needed. Other visits may show that munition-related items may be present. If initial results suggest munitions-related items may be present that property will be revisited, during which time residents of that property and those properties within 239 feet of the potential munitions-related item must be vacated for the day. This two-step process potentially reduces the number of homes that will need to be vacated.
Digging of suspected items will occur during the return visits, and every effort will be made to remove the item safely. If it is determined that the item is an unexploded munition, it will be relocated to a safe and secure location and eventually destroyed through intentional detonation. We will bring in other resources, such as an Army Explosives and Ordnance Detonation Unit, if needed. All of the munitions found to date have been safe to move.
6. I don’t feel safe, what am I supposed to do to avoid an accident/explosion?
We regret that this makes you uncomfortable. You are not in immediate danger and there are people working very hard to find and eliminate any potential sources of harm. You do not need to change your routine. Please be aware of the 3 R’s: recognize, retreat, and report any unusual items in your yard.
7. What impact is this going to have on real estate values? Why wasn’t this disclosed when we bought our home?
Depending on when you bought your home this wasn’t disclosed because, frankly, we didn’t know about it until 2010, after a grassland fire revealed munitions in the northern slopes of Green Mountain in Hayden Park. Now that the Army does know about it, we are taking the right steps to fix it. Munitions investigation and removal is a methodical, safety-conscious process that starts slowly and builds momentum. We are getting to the actual work of resolving this now. We appreciate your patience, to do this right we can’t rush or skimp on safety, and we do not plan to do either.
8. How long will this take? What is the difference between an initial investigation and the return visit?
Now that we have collected signed Right of Entry agreements from residents/homeowners, initial investigations can begin. Several workers will systematically investigate the more than 70 properties in the two neighborhoods for which Right of Entry forms were signed. They will use hand-held metal detectors to look for “anomalies” or metallic objects below the ground surface. They will only investigate in open, grassy areas and will not disturb landscaping, outdoor furniture or children’s play equipment.
All personnel engaged in field work will carry AECOM identification badges and drive marked company vehicles. They will not request access inside your home or other structures (e.g., shed, garage). If anyone represents themselves as part of this effort who asks to gain entry or cannot produce proper identification, they are not part of the investigation.
Time onsite will vary depending on the size and complexity of a property. Generally the initial investigations are expected to take between one and two hours per property.
If the initial investigation identifies an anomaly on the property, its location will be recorded and the property will be revisited at a later date to dig and remove the buried object. Because safety requirements dictate that 239 feet from the digging location must be vacated, you may need to leave your home for a time whether or not your property is going to be investigated.
In many cases, the return visit will be completed in about four hours or less. Sometimes, due to the size of the property, higher than expected concentrations of buried metal (such as utility piping), or the location of a munitions-related item, the investigation may take longer.
For residents that need to vacate their homes for the day.
9. Where am I supposed to go if I have to vacate my home for a return visit during the investigation?
If you usually leave the house to work, or have family members that spend the day at school, you are encouraged not to change that routine. Arrangements for an after-school activity that will keep children away from the home should be made.
If not at work, we suggest that you make plans with family or friends, go on a shopping trip or a trip to the library and a movie, but if these are not available or appealing options for you, there is a “waiting location” set up at Green Mountain Recreation Center, 13198 West Green Mountain Drive.
10. How will I get there?
You will need to make arrangements for getting to and from Green Mountain Recreation Center at 13198 West Green Mountain Drive.
11. I have pets. Is it OK to leave them? Can I take them with me?
We recommend making arrangements for pets to be elsewhere.
12. Do I need to bring my medication?
You should bring medication that you would need to take during a 12-hour period. This is not because you would be away from your home for this long, but if you need to take medication on four- , eight- , or 12-hour intervals, you should have them with you in case your time away overlaps with the time at which you need to take that medication.
13. What if there is damage to my home?
The Right of Entry document details the government’s responsibilities for damage that could occur as a result of the investigation.
14. What if I want this work done, but my neighbors do not cooperate?
We cannot conduct an investigation for munitions-related material without complying with core safety requirements. These requirements include a minimum separation distance of at least 239 feet from the location of digging. The Army would like to see more rather than fewer properties investigated. Reasons to allow a property to be checked include:
- Peace of mind if nothing is found,
- Removal of dangerous or potentially dangerous items that were found, followed by peace of mind that items have been removed,
- Reduction of doubt about the unknown status of a property,
- Reduction of negative impressions of the property related to sale or rent of the property (e.g., this home has been checked, and nothing was found),
- Community unity, and
- The Army National Guard is taking steps to make the need to vacate property as painless as possible.
15. If the grass dies, will you come back and fix it?
Yes, if it is necessary to remove a patch of grass to access an object, it will be put back and watered. If the grass does not survive, it will be replaced.