Background | Concerns to date | Investigating the area | Munitions safety
We’re working with the Army National Guard Directorate to determine what, if any, risks might be posed to the public from past military activities at Camp George West and nearby Green Mountain, west of Denver.
- Military munitions debris can indicate the potential presence of other, more dangerous munitions-related items in the same area. Some of these items could explode if not handled properly.
- The area is heavily used by the public year-round for walking pets, running, hiking, biking and other outdoor activities.
We and the Army National Guard have developed a plan for further investigating the area and providing public education to protect users. This work is ongoing.
- Camp George West is located near the junction of West Colfax Avenue and Interstate 70, 3 miles east of Golden.
- It was founded in 1903 as the Colorado Army National Guard's permanent rifle range and training facility.
- A historic document indicates that during the 1930s, the National Guard leased a portion of Green Mountain for use as an artillery impact area for rounds fired from Camp George West.
- The specific boundaries of the impact area are as yet undetermined.
- Recent finds of military munitions debris indicate the historic impact area is likely on the north side of Green Mountain.
- The items found to date are mainly pieces of spent shells from the pre-World War II era.
- On Feb. 11, 1993, Camp George West was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.
- Currently, the site occupies approximately 100 acres.
- Multiple users occupy the property, including the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Correctional Center and the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
- William Frederick Hayden Park on Green Mountain is in Jefferson County and maintained by the city of Lakewood.
- The terrain is a popular outdoor recreational area, with approximately 20 miles of trails
Concerns to date
- Military munitions used in training exercises during World War I and World War II sometimes failed to function as intended.
- Often referred to as "duds," "bombs," "dummy rounds" or other terms, these items today are defined as "unexploded ordnance" (UXO) because of their potential for exploding when improperly handled.
- These items come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be disposed of safely only by trained Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) professionals.
- Over the years, users of the Green Mountain recreational area may have come into contact with items that they may not have recognized as military munitions or munitions-related debris.
- Until the area can be further evaluated to ensure public safety, we and the Army National Guard want to provide the public an understanding of the potential presence of these items and the appropriate actions to take if they encounter something suspicious.
Investigating the area
- Camp George West, the open space on Green Mountain and nearby neighborhoods will be further investigated by the Army National Guard under its Non-Department of Defense Owned Non-Operational Defense Site program, a nationwide program designed to identify former training areas where the Guard used munitions in training exercises.
- The program focuses on those areas used in training that were never owned by the Department of Defense.
- This is a relatively new program, and the Camp George West/Green Mountain site may be the first in the country evaluated under it.
- We and the Army National Guard are working closely with Lakewood and other authorities to ensure close coordination in the evaluation and educational effort.
- Educational efforts will continue to provide the public with information about munitions safety issues and actions individuals can take to protect themselves in the short term.
Munitions may include live munitions fired during training that didn’t fire as designed or training and practice munitions, both of which remain hazardous. We work directly with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Army National Guard at different sites to determine what, if any, risks might be posed to the public and the appropriate mitigation measures.
- Training and practice munitions may also be hazardous.
- These munitions can contain a type of spotting charge that simulates explosive impact.
- The spotting charge can vary from a few grains of black powder to several pounds of high explosive.
- Never assume that "training" or "practice" means a munition item is safe to touch.
- Even the least sensitive items may explode if exposed to careless and improper handling.
- It’s important to remember that military munitions were designed to destroy military supplies and equipment, and to kill or maim people.
- Regardless of their age, munition items retain their hazardous and dangerous nature.
- Leave the handling of munitions to trained experts who can assess the item and make the area safe.
Know the three R’s of munitions safety
- Recognizing when you may have encountered a munition is key to reducing the risk of injury or death.
- If you encounter or suspect you’ve encountered a munition, consider it extremely dangerous.
- Munitions are sometimes hard to see and identify. They may resemble:
- A pointed pipe.
- A soda can.
- A baseball.
- A muffler.
- Other metal objects.
- They may be:
- Visible on the surface.
- Exposed by erosion or fires.
- They may look new or old, be complete or in parts, be found alone or in groups.
- Any suspect items should be considered dangerous, regardless of size or apparent age.
- If you encounter or suspect you’ve encountered a munition, don’t touch, move or disturb it.
- Immediately and carefully leave the area, following the same path on which you entered.
- If you can, mark the general area — not the munition — in some manner (e.g., with a hat, piece of cloth, or tying a piece of plastic to a bush or tree branch).
- Call 911 immediately.
- Notify local law enforcement of what you saw and where you saw it.
- If you or someone you know may have collected munitions-related items as souvenirs, please notify law enforcement immediately so trained professionals can remove the items safely.