MTADS Role In Remediation at the Badlands Bombing Range

10/1/1997 - 68-97r
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The Multi-sensor Towed Array Detection System (MTADS), a system developed by scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to detect and identify unexploded ordnance (UXO) and ordnance explosives waste (OEW), has successfully completed a series of technology demonstrations at various DoD test ranges throughout the United States. According to principal investigator Dr. Jimmie McDonald, head of the Chemical Dynamics and Diagnostic Branch in NRL's Chemistry Division, "These field exercises have clearly shown the superb ordnance detection, location, and classification capabilities of the MTADS, as well as its ability to be deployed and operated in various scenarios and extreme environmental conditions."

Dr. McDonald reports that, "The survey system incorporates both cesium (Cs) vapor, full field magnetometers and active, pulsed-induction sensors. The sensors are mounted as linear arrays on low-signature platforms that are towed over survey sites by an all-terrain vehicle. The position-over-ground is plotted using a state-of-the-art Global Positioning System (GPS) that also provides survey planning and vehicle survey guidance. Using mature sensor technologies, NRL has focused on the development and integration of a Data Analysis System (DAS) to locate, identify, categorize all military ordnance at its maximum probable self-burial depths. The DAS is efficient and can be operated by relatively untrained personnel."

One test site where MTADS was used included the Badlands Bombing Range in South Dakota. The selection of this site was made by DoD through the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP). From 1942 until the late 1950's, this range was used for training, including bombing, aerial gunnery and artillery exercises. According to Dr. McDonald, "Very little documentation exists as to where (and what type) operations were conducted on the 341,383 acre range. Therefore, several sites were considered for demonstrating the MTADS. In coordination with Mrs. Emma Featherman-Sam, director of the Badlands Bombing Range Project, sites were selected to conduct an MTADS survey that would be most beneficial to the Oglala Sioux Native American Community."

In approximately 60 hours of actual survey time, 145 acres of surveys were completed on land encompassing two target areas. Dr. McDonald notes that, "The first of these is a dirt-berm bullseye that was visible in photographs. The second survey area was a suspected target area based upon surface clutter and faint images on old aerial photographs. Almost 1600 targets were identified and analyzed by the DAS. Of the analyzed targets, approximately 420 targets were selected for remediation. Only 40 of the items selected as targets were not ordnance related. Based on the MTADS survey, 80 M38 practice bombs and four sand-filled M57, 250-lb bombs were remediated. Some of these ordnance items had intact black-powder spotting charges, which were detonated by Army Corps EOD personnel. The MTADS also located approximately 50 2.25-in (SCAR) and 2.75-in rockets and numerous 2.75-in rocket warheads. All other remediated targets were identified as ordnance-related scrap."

The sites at the Badlands Bombing Range had been previously cleared and certified by DoD for unrestricted use, based on results of surveys using older technologies. "The combination of mature sensor technologies, when coupled with modern GPS information and the advanced DAS capabilities of the MTADS, clearly demonstrates the limitations of older technologies, and the need to exploit these new technologies in future remediation activities," Dr. McDonald concluded.

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