To be served a lawsuit stands at the top of most business owners’ nightmares. Alerted by the recent influx of lawsuits against firing ranges, many owners have begun to feel nervous. Owners are anxious to stop litigation over lead poisoning contracted by others who frequent their firing ranges, knowing it is a foreseeable injury. Sensible owners want to act by using preventive measures. The most common sense approach is to have their ranges cleaned by licensed, reputable contractors with stellar track records. Unfortunately, this too has limitations.
Is Your Firing Range in Compliance with OSHA, EPA & RCRA with Required Regular Maintenance? (When Was the Last Time Your Firing Range had the Lead Removed?) Keep in mind: under certain specific circumstances, range solid waste impacted with lead can be a RCRA Hazardous Waste. What does this mean for your range?
Improperly managed range backstop material, along with incorrectly collected, containerized and stored lead bullets or shot can trigger RCRA hazardous waste requirements and obligations for your range. Sections 7002 and 7003 of the RCRA statute allow EPA, states or citizens to use civil lawsuits, to compel cleanup of or other action for “solid waste” (e.g., spent lead shot) posing actual or potential imminent and substantial endangerment. Since the risk of lead migrating increases with time, making ranges that have not removed lead more likely candidates for government action or citizen lawsuits under RCRA Section 7002 and 7003, ranges are advised to maintain a schedule of regular lead removal.
It would be nice but ignorant to believe the owner’s liability would be cut short by hiring a contractor. Looking into the job demanded of a contractor by OSHA and the EPA and knowing what lead and lead-dust remediation entails, provides the owner with the greatest protection against lawsuits — especially frivolous litigation. Understanding what legal obligations the contractor must adhere to when performing lead poisoning remediation, prevents exposure to unwanted and unwarranted lawsuits. Consideration by the owner of the limitations of even the best contractors is also vitally important.
The granulated rubber trap lead cleaning provides an excellent example. This is an important task performed by the contractor. As stated in an article by Action Target Academy, ” Experience shows that handgun rounds typically penetrate only 6 to 10 inches into the usual 24 inches of rubber, and most rifle rounds only penetrate 12 to 16 inches.” For the firing range owner to stop here when contracting to clean the rubber trap, or berm, would potentially expose the owner to a negligence lawsuit.
The penetration distances given above exposes the problem, because they are also deceptive. Estimates indicate that rubber traps need cleaning after 80,000 rounds. As the number of bullet pieces and whole bullets accumulate, the chances that an embedded bullet strikes another, driving it deeper into the trap, increases. Taking off the top two feet and sorting through the remaining layer of rubber chips is not always sufficient. This technology seems antiquated for resolving the problem and time-consuming, cutting into the owner’s profits.
Aside from making sure that employees of both the firing range and the contractor are wearing approved suits and certified (PAPR) respirators while performing lead poisoning remediation, awareness by the owner of the number of times shooters have used the trap and for what purpose, serves to assure the process of remediation works successfully. The granulated or chipped rubber absorbs bullets, bullet fragments, paper from targets, incendiary projectiles and ultimately, over time and usage, the rubber chips become a hazardous waste.
Recent technological advancements include the use of HEPA vacuum units that claim to remove up to 98% of the lead in the rubber traps. Using this procedure of remediation complies with all government standards. Still, trouble looms for the owner. Beyond lead poisoning is the risk of fire, back splatter and ricochet.
A CDC report highlights the problem and explains how it occurs. Though the report dealt with employees spreading lead dust throughout the facility, the focus on how they did it is important. The report states, ” However, because airborne lead was detected in the firearm cleaning area this may have been leading to lead contamination in the office, classroom, and lunchroom areas because it was on the office side of the ventilation system. Lead from contaminated surfaces can be transferred to the skin, especially the hands. This can result in lead ingestion while handling food, beverages, and other items that contact the mouth.”
Because the lead dust is in the air, in both indoor and outdoor facilities, it spreads to all surfaces, including the rubber lead traps. The HEPA cleaning, above, may meet all standards for lead removal, but the problem with the lead dust spreading and accumulating on surfaces is not mitigated by vacuuming the lead rubber traps. At some unknown precise point, the rubber trap becomes a waste hazard because of lead dust and more. Remaining keenly aware of the limitations of even reputable contractors, vigilant owners cannot choose to ignore the conditions and uses of their rubber traps and when they need replacement.
At MT2, the nation’s leading firing range maintenance and lead reclamation company, all the issues of shooting range reclamation have been considered and implemented in MT2’s patented approach to recovering the maximum amount of used lead while protecting the sensitive natural environment around the shooting range. If you would like to read more MT2, please contact us with any questions you may have.
EPA fines: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/rcra-corrective-action-enforcement-authorities
EPA Hazardous Waste Cleanup: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/waste-chemical-and-cleanup-enforcement
RCRA Violations: http://envirodailyadvisor.blr.com/2012/08/7-rcra-violations-that-will-send-you-to-jail
Transporting Hazardous Waste: http://www.epa.gov/enforcement/criminal-provisions-resource-conservation-and-recovery-act-rcra
Civil Lawsuits: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/epa_bmp.pdf