To ensure that Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune units are combat ready, certain areas on the Base are used to train military personnel in the use of munitions. For safety purposes, each munitions training range is associated with a safety buffer area, called a surface danger zone (SDZ).
What is a Surface Danger Zone?
An SDZ is an area associated with a training range that is designed to protect people during weapons training. It may include land, water, and airspace. When a range is in active use, the SDZ is an exclusion area that is strictly controlled and could contain projectiles, fragments, or components from firing, launching, or detonating weapons and explosives.
An SDZ is comprised of three parts:
1. Weapons Firing Position: Position from which the munitions are fired.
2. Impact Area: The target or intended area of munitions impact where munitions and munitions fragments are expected to land.
3. Secondary Danger Area: A safety buffer area where fragments from munitions may land.
SDZs are established by Camp Lejeune through Army guidelines and through regulations that are normally associated with public comment periods. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ regulations for public lands and waters are documented in the Code of Federal Regulations (Corps of Engineers, Department of the Army, Part 334 Danger Zones and Restricted Area Regulations, Section 440).
These regulations include safety procedures to ensure that the SDZs are clear of all personnel during training, and that the public is notified when training is conducted. The Department of Defense's current regulations require that SDZs be calculated so that there is only a one-in-one-million chance that munitions or munitions fragments would land outside the secondary danger area.
Identification of Off-Base SDZs
Review and update of Camp Lejeune's Military Installation Map (dated 1996) in 2007 revealed that one current SDZ was depicted as being outside the installation boundary. Specifically, the eastern lateral limit of the SDZ for the G-7 direct fire artillery range (see the table below) was depicted as being on private property near the southeast boundary of the Base. As soon as the issue was identified, the G-7 safety buffer (secondary danger area) was adjusted, so that the entire SDZ now lies within the Base boundary.
Historic range maps and documents were reviewed, and it was determined that some other SDZs were also off the installation. SDZs are continuously updated and examined to reflect changes in training requirements. The SDZs in question were off the Base only during specific time-frames (see the table below), dating back to the 1940s when the Base was established.
After further review of the historic range delineations, it is believed that only portions of the safety buffer areas were located beyond the boundaries of the Base. The boundaries of BT-3/N-1 (see the table and map below) might have been simply an alignment or mapping error and would not reflect actual operations.
Camp Lejeune personnel re-evaluated all ranges on the Base for conflicts with private and State property and are confident that there are no other SDZ's encroaching onto off-Base lands.
However, it is possible that munitions or munitions fragments might have inadvertently landed beyond the boundaries of the Base in the past. Although there has been no indication that a safety risk exists, Camp Lejeune has conducted an investigation to ensure the protection of human safety and health and of the environment.