Friday, May 20, 2011

Skiing Shooters Leave Behind Lead Contamination

by Duane Craig

Lead contamination at this firing range in Alaska
Shooting ranges are soil contaminators and nowhere is that more evident than in Anchorage, Alaska where an old biathlon range with lead pollution has temporarily stopped the city from building a soccer field. Biathlons are any sporting event that combine a couple of sports but the two most common sports combined are cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Sounds a little dangerous to me, but I guess maybe the contestants are all pretty good at what they do.

Apparently, all the bullets fired over the years into the berm behind the targets left that berm highly contaminated with lead.

Lead Contamination in Alaska

But this story takes a strange twist, that probably is not all that uncommon when it comes to contaminated sites. The lead contamination is now thought to have been spread around the area by previous excavation work and there are three potentially responsible parties arguing about who’s to blame. Apparently, builders moved dirt from the berm without getting the required permits. Some of the dirt from the berm was also moved to a pile, and still other contractors took dirt from that pile to fill in low spots on the site.

Meanwhile the planned soccer field has been on hold for three years and in 2010 four parties paid a total of $63,000 in fines to settle with the Environmental Protection Agency over violations of federal rules on handling hazardous waste. None of the parties admitted fault in that settlement. The four also had to put together a cleanup plan, which they did, and it was recently approved.


People Investigating Toxic Sites said...

There may be much more than lead contamination at Kinkaid Park, formerly a portion of Point Campbell Military Reservation, where a Nike-Hercules missile was unearthed in 2005. Many parks, golf courses and shooting ranges were built on top of old dumpsites. I strongly recommend historical research of the proposed development to help determine how the land was used. The lead contamination may be a smoke screen to hide the existence of other more dangerous chemicals left by the military.

Anonymous said...

David Hildebrandt Same for old military shooting ranges. Historical topographic maps often depict the shooting ranges. Camp Bullis near San Antonio TX had major lead contamination and now institutional controls are in place.