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Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range

Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range location map

The Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range (FLBGR) is an approximately 100 square mile former military training site located in Arapahoe County, Colorado, approximately 20 miles southeast of Denver. It was established in 1938 and used during World War II for armament and bombing training, which included practice and high explosive bombs. Military training continued on portions of the Range through 1963. The Air Force, Army, Navy and Air National Guard used the site for training exercises through the Korean and Vietnam wars. The majority of the Range was transferred from federal ownership in the 1960s.

Today the Range is owned by a variety of public and private landowners, the largest of which is the State Land Board. The Board owns about 1/3 of the area (approximately 23,000 acres) in the middle of the Range. The north-central portion of the Range is known as the Former Lowry Training Annex (FLTA).

 

The area contains four former Titan I missile complexes (1A, 1B, 1C and 2A), operational from 1962 to 1965, and Lowry Landfill, a Superfund site, is located on the northwest corner of the property.

The Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range has been undergoing a variety of environmental cleanup and development projects for several years.

 

Residential

Housing developments are located throughout the former training range, with the most densely populated areas concentrated on the western portion.

 

Recreational

Facilities include the Aurora Reservoir Park and Recreation Area (including an 840-acre reservoir), Arapahoe Park Racetrack, the Arapahoe Hunt Club, three model airplane clubs and the Plains Conservation Center.

 

Commercial

Development consists mainly of manufacturing, oil and gas wells and the Denver Arapahoe Disposal site (DADS).

 

Undeveloped Land

Used for cattle grazing, farming, recreation and associated support activities.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program is responsible for military munitions cleanup activities at the majority of the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range. These activities include identifying, investigating and cleaning up contamination associated with past activities at the range.

 

The US Air Force and the US Navy are responsible for cleanup activities associated wit the portion of the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range known as the Lowry Training Annex (LTA).

 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is responsible for overseeing munitions cleanups in the the State to ensure the site is protective of human health and the environment.

Military Munitions

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) and military munitions cleanup is the main environmental issue at the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range. Historically, practice and live munitions -- including bombs, artillery projectiles, rockets, mortars, grenades, flares and pyrotechnic devices, explosives and propellants -- were used throughout the site. Many of these items remain on the Range. Because practice or training rounds can contain a type of spotting charge that simulates explosive impact, they can be very dangerous. About 10 percent of fired munitions did not function as designed and, therefore, pose a risk of exploding if mishandled.

 

The US Army Corps of Engineers Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) Program has been conducting cleanup on a major portion of the Range for the past 10 years under the terms of a 1998 Settlement Agreement with the State. Military munitions cleanup is about 65% complete and anticipated to be finished in five years.

 

Former Lowry Training Annex

A portion of the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range know as the Former Lowry Training Annex (FLTA) is not eligible for cleanup under the Formerly Used Defense Sites program. The Air Force is conducting cleanup of a portion of the Annex. That cleanup is expected to be complete by the end of 2009. Funding for cleanup of the Denver Research Institute site has been secured and the Navy has submitted a draft  Engineer Evaluation / Cost Assessment to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and US EPA for review. A 30-day public comment period will be scheduled in May. Cleanup is scheduled to begin in late summer 2009.

 

Titan Missile Complexes

The US Army Corp of Engineers conducted investigations of groundwater, water in underground complexes, and soils at all four former Titan I missile complexes at the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range.

 

At Complexes 1B and 1C, groundwater contaminants include organic solvents (trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE)). Dissolved metals (zinc, cadmium) were found at Complex 1C. Naturally occurring radiation, such as uranium, radium and potassium, was found but no man-made radiation, such as plutonium and americium, was identified. Soil contaminants include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and petroleum compounds.

 

Complexes 1A and 2A have been closed as a result of investigations. Soil and water in the underground complex at Complex 1A is cleaned up. An environmental covenant was placed on 23 acres within Complex 2A. The environmental covenant restricts access to the underground complex, use of groundwater beneath the complex, and intrusive activities such as excavation and drilling.

 

Plans for cleanup at Complexes 1B and 1C are being developed by the US Army Corp of Engineers.

 

 

Lowry Landfill Superfund

The 508-acre Lowry Landfill is located near the intersection of Quincy Avenue and Gun Club Road on a portion of the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range. From the mid-1960s through 1980, municipal and industrial wastes were disposed at the site using the "co-disposal" process. From 1980 through 1990, only municipal waste, including asbestos, was disposed on top of the industrial waste pits. From 1990 through the present, disposal operations have been limited to asbestos. A landfill mass re-grading proposal involving future disposal of relatively inert construction debris on top of the other wastes has been approved and will be implemented in the future.

 

Due to extensive groundwater contamination at the site, Lowry Landfill was added to the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List for cleanup under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) in 1984. The remedy for the landfill is designed to contain the contamination onsite. It will be operated and monitored indefinitely. EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are currently addressing a groundwater contamination plume of 1,4-dioxane that extends two miles north of the site.

 

In order to ensure active public participation in the cleanup process at the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range, the US Army Corp of Engineers formed a Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) co-chaired by US Army Corp of Engineers and a community representative. The Board consists of community members residing in the vicinity of or affected by Range activities. The Board meets on the third Wednesday of every month in the evening. More information about the community involvement program and a schedule of upcoming Board meetings and locations can be found at the Fomer Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range website.

Key documents from the Administrative Record used to determine response actions at the Former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range can be found at:

 

Aurora Public Library

Reference Section

14949 E. Alameda Parkway

Aurora, CO  80012

303-739-6600

Hours of Operation:

Monday through Thursday

9:00 am to 9:00 pm

 

Friday

Closed

 

Saturday

9:00 am to 5:00 pm

 

Sunday

12:30 pm to 6:00 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The full Administrative Record can be viewed, by appointment, at the project site by calling 303-690-3816.

 

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Mr. Jeff Swanson

State Remedial Project Manager

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

4300 Cherry Creek Drive South

Denver, CO  80246-1530

303-692-3416

comments.hmwmd@state.co.us  include "Swanson" in the subject line

 

Jeannine Natterman

State Public Involvement Coordinator

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

4300 Cherry Creek Drive South

Denver, CO  80246-1530

303-692-3303

Jeannine.Natterman@state.co.us

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Mr. David Rathke, Ph.D

EPA Remedial Project Manager

1595 Wynkoop Street

Denver, CO  80202-1129

303-312-6016

 

Mr. John Dalton

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator

1595 Wynkoop Street

Denver, CO  80202-1129

303-312-6633

 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Ms. Jill Solberg

Public Affairs Office

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District

106 South 15th Street

Omaha, NE 68102-1618

402-221-3908

1-888-835-5971 (Toll-free)