Outside firing ranges can end up putting a huge amount of lead into the soil and water. There are a number of sources that detail all of the reasons why this is such a risk, but the biggest risk is in lead poisoning, which presents through fatigue, nausea, organ damage, and mental impairment. All of these are particularly dangerous to firearms instructors and workers who are responsible for cleaning ranges. These individuals are exposed to much higher levels of lead over time, which can lead to a dangerous buildup in their bodies.
Lead remediation allows the land associated with a firing range to be reclaimed. Lead remediation isn’t just about removing the bullets and bullet fragments from the land, though this is certainly a valuable step that will prevent the soil and water from being contaminated further. Bullets and bullet fragments that are left for longer periods of time, particularly periods associated with the freeze/thaw cycle, are more likely to break down, ultimately causing greater problems than bullets, casings, and fragments that are removed promptly.
Lead remediation takes it a step further, utilizing a chemical conversion process on the lead remaining in the soil so that it is no longer considered dangerous. Soil treated through MT2’s ECOBOND® lead treatment technology is considered non-hazardous, which means that it’s no longer dangerous to instructors, shooters, and cleanup workers who s spend a great deal of time on the range. This is doubly important for closed ranges that are no longer in use, because the lead deposited into the soil will gradually increase in concentration and make its way into groundwater until it is removed. On that note, if you are considering closing your firing range, please contact us for some very important things to make sure you do in the correct order. We have extensive experience in helping to clean the lead from a firing range that is being closed permenantly.
Lead, antimony, copper, zinc, and arsenic are chemicals often found in soil on firing ranges, however none is more common or more dangerous than lead. A typical projectile, or bullet, is approximately 85% lead and fragmented bullets create lead dust which can transport off-site by wind or precipitation. Lead has documented detrimental effects on the environment and the health of humans, particularly children. Lead poisoning causes fatigue, nerve damage, hearing and vision impairment, and in children it can cause damage to the brain, development delays, and liver and kidney damage, according to the EPA. Therefore, the proper remediation of lead in soil is necessary to prevent these damaging effects.
The first step of soil remediation is proper sampling of the soils on-site. Lead exists as both solid particles and as compounds absorbed into the soil. It is important to test for both in two major areas, where the bullets are shot and deposited and any groundwater in the area. A laboratory tests the samples and can tell what kind of contaminants are on the firing range, including lead, arsenic, and other chemicals, as well as the concentration of lead in the soil, or how much there is. Soil testing allows MT2 to create the best possible plan and most cost-effective solution to maximize the amount of lead removed from the soil.
Once the type and amount of lead in the soil are determined, there are traditionally three ways in which MT2 removes the lead from the contaminated soil: the lead is removed for disposal or recycling by a certified recycling company, contaminated soil is treated and removed from the firing range as a nonhazardous material, or the soil is replaced. To treat soil, MT2 uses our innovative and patented ECOBOND® technology, which treats soil at firing ranges effectively and safely.
For more information on MT2 or soil remediation, please feel free to contact us.