M.S. Thesis Presentation by Tanya Palmateer Oxenberg

(Dr. Nolan Hertel, advisor)

"The Use of Catchboxes to Minimize the Impact to the Environment from Testing Depleted Uranium Penetrators"


An investigation of the effectiveness of catchboxes in minimizing environmental contamination from testing depleted uranium (DIJ) tank ammunition was conducted by studying the environmental monitoring data and viewing the efficacy of 1500 test firing into the catchboxes at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The Army needed to perform the study to determine if catchboxes were an advantage or disadvantage to the environment. Testing DU ammunition by the U.S. Army has resulted in several thousand kilograms of DU in soils that also contain unexploded ordnance at Aberdeen, Jefferson and Yuma Proving Grounds. The contaminated areas range from 1200 to 6000 acres at each site.  Catchboxes were constructed at some of the ranges to limit the DU deposition in the environment and to facilitate remediation. Sand is the media typically used in the catchboxes to slow the rounds so that they can be contained. Catchboxes were not used at all sites because of concerns that sur3fac~e contamination and transport of abraded DU particles would be greater than that experienced from intact penetrators remaining in the impact areas. Uncertainty in the flight of the DU rounds led to an initial conclusion of no more than 5Q% recovery of DU in a catchbox.

The results provide that between 69 and 99 percent of the rounds fired are contained in the two catchboxes. Catchboxes are more easily, safely and less expensive to remediate than the open ranges.