delware environmental institute

UDaily: Grant to address fate of munitions constituents in the environment

UDaily: Grant to address fate of munitions constituents in the environment

The Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) was established in 1911 as a field artillery firing and field training site. Over the next several decades, MMR, which occupies 34 square miles on upper Cape Cod, was used for a variety of military operations. No one guessed — in 1911 or even years later during the Cold War — that those activities would contaminate an aquifer which, as of the early 1980s, provided drinking water to some 200,000 year-round and an additional 300,000 seasonal residents of the four towns surrounding MMR.

By the late 20th century, it had become clear that munitions constituents — which include explosives, propellants and metals — posed an environmental hazard not only on Cape Cod but at sites across the U.S., giving rise to significant federal support for research to address the problem.

A team of faculty in the University of Delaware’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering recently received a four-year, $1.75 million grant from the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) to measure and predict the rate at which these materials degrade.

The project, “Natural and Enhanced Rate and Capacity of Abiotic Reduction of Munition Constituents,” is the third SERDP-funded research grant for the group over the past 14 years.