The city of Sacramento is about to begin testing for lead contamination in the soil of nearly two dozen homes near a shuttered gun range in Mangan Park where repeated tests revealed hazardous levels of lead dust inside and outside the facility.
Christopher Conlin, the city’s parks director, said 41 homeowners near the closed James G. Mangan Rifle and Pistol Range were contacted about having their yards tested. So far, 23 have agreed to the tests, which will be conducted “over the course of the next couple weeks,” Conlin said.
The city chose the 41 homes based on wind models that showed lead dust on the range’s roof may have blown into the yards of those houses. Conlin noted that tests conducted this year on a sidewalk across the street from the range adjacent to some homes discovered lead at levels far below the California Department of Public Health hazard threshold.
The parks department will ask the City Council on Thursday for $375,000 to help pay for the yard testing, along with the removal of contaminated soil near the range. Conlin said crews have already removed an estimated 220 to 240 tons of soil, along with large portions of the building’s sidewalk. The range roof and vents have been sealed to stop the spread of lead dust.
Members of the Arellano family, who live in one of the closest homes to the range on Bradd Way, said Monday they have asked for their yard to be tested. The Arellanos have lived there for five years – raising three children – and now avoid the area near the range.
“We want to be sure there is no lead here,” said Alfredo Arellano, 17, translating for his mother, Maria. “We’re worried it could be here, too.”
Standing in the middle of a public park near Sacramento Executive Airport, the gun range was quietly closed in December 2014 after at least eight years of tests showed high levels of lead dust inside the building.
A 2012 report from a city-hired gun range consultant hired by the city said the ventilation system appeared to be sending unfiltered air to the outdoors, but it wasn’t until two years later that the city tested the roof. Those tests discovered lead dust at levels far exceeding public health limits, according to records and consultant reports obtained by The Sacramento Bee through the Public Records Act.
Nearby residents and park users were not told why the range closed, and the city did not test the surrounding soil or surfaces until The Bee inquired about the range in March. A fence was placed around the building in April, nearly 500 days after the facility was closed.
A series of tests conducted this year showed “hot spots” of lead dust on the sidewalk in front of the range and in a parking lot behind the building, both in areas accessed by the public. Hazardous levels of dust were also discovered on a walkway leading into the range, and on the building’s main door and roof.
However, tests found little or no lead in the park’s playground, pool or picnic area.
According to a newsletter sent to nearby residents from the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department, a consultant hired by the city in August found lead-contaminated soil “around the gun range building and at a portion of the archery range” to the west of the range. The fence surrounding the facility was expanded in August to seal off the contaminated portions of the archery range.
Conlin said the range building’s fate has not been decided. He said neighborhood residents have provided a variety of opinions, including turning it into a community clubhouse.
“It’s not as if you could walk in there right now. You would have to do a lot of cleaning,” Conlin said. “But it could be made usable.”