Military and armament contaminated sites

Although there is no legal definition in Germany for the terms Militärische Altlasten (military-contaminated sites) and Rüstungsaltlasten (armanent-contaminated sites), they nonetheless fall within the scope of site contamination and former waste disposal sites. An historical classification is often applied that is based on usage and operation prior to 1945 or thereafter.

Contaminated military sites

Contaminated military sites are contaminated sites and military waste disposal sites that are attributable to post World War II military operations.

Following the demise of the Soviet bloc in the late 1980s, the former East Germany’s army was disbanded, the former “west group” of the Soviet armed forces withdrew, part of the eight western divisions of the troops that had been stationed in the former West Germany (pursuant to the 1954 agreement) withdrew, NATO drastically reduced its forces in Germany, and most military bases used by these various forces were closed. Restructuring of the German military has also resulted in military-base closings.

In 1993, the federal government proposed to the regional states of the former East Germany that it take over the “west group” military bases that the German army would not be using. This also included assuming responsibility for cleaning up contaminated sites and then selling them off. Some of the regional states accepted this proposal.

Owing to the scope of the problem, identification, investigation and assessment of suspected site contamination, as well as cleanup of this contamination, was a political priority in Germany. The German military and the regional states elaborated protocols and instruments for the cleanup of contaminated military sites. As early as 1995, immediate hazards had been averted, and a list of all German military facilities had been compiled.

Using the knowledge gained from the various contaminated-site programs as a starting point, the UBA commissioned a number of research projects and put the findings of these projects on a CD that was issued in 2003. To order this CD, see the contact information on the right.

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Armament contaminated sites

Armament contaminated sites are abandoned sites where war materiel was developed, tested, manufactured, processed, stored, or destroyed.

The UBA no longer actively addresses this issue and stopped updating its database in 2003. For information concerning legacy military sites, contact the competent federal or regional-state authorities.