The Department began environmental cleanup in 1975 under the Installation Restoration Program (IRP). The IRP addresses contamination from a hazardous substance or pollutant or contaminant at active installations, Formerly Used Defense Sites, and Base Realignment and Closure locations. Through the IRP, DoD complies with environmental cleanup laws, such as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as Superfund.
To prioritize funding for IRP sites, DoD uses the Relative Risk Site Evaluation (RRSE) to clean up sites that pose the greatest threat to safety, human health, and the environment first. The RRSE prioritizes IRP sites into three categories: high, medium, or low relative risk. These ratings are based on the nature and extent of a site’s contamination, the likelihood that contaminants will migrate, and the potential impacts of contamination on populations and ecosystems. The RRSE scores affect how DoD sequences IRP sites for cleanup. In addition to relative risk, DoD considers other factors such as economic, programmatic, and stakeholder concerns, as well as reuse and redevelopment plans, when prioritizing sites for cleanup.