The Public Eye

Sacramento must test sidewalks for toxic lead dust near gun range

Sacramento County regulators have ordered the city of Sacramento to test sidewalks in the Mangan Park neighborhood for lead dust and submit a detailed plan describing how it will remove contaminated soil adjacent to a gun range that was closed due to hazardous lead levels.

In a letter released by the city late Wednesday, Environmental Management Department officials wrote that the state health and safety code authorizes the department “to assess administrative penalties for contamination caused by the release of hazardous waste” or if the city fails to comply with the orders.

It was unclear Thursday morning whether the department intends to fine the city in connection with the high levels of lead found on the gun range exterior and in the soil surrounding the building.

The James G. Mangan Rifle and Pistol Range was closed Dec. 24, 2014, after years of tests inside the building showed lead contamination at readings well above state Department of Public Health hazard levels.

Park users and nearby residents were not notified of the lead contamination when the city closed the range. The city also did not test the soil in the surrounding area until The Sacramento Bee made inquiries. A subsequent round of tests earlier this month showed the soil in a nearby picnic area, playground, pool and archery range was clean, but that high levels of lead remained on the building exterior and in the soil immediately surrounding the range.

The city has 10 days from the April 22 letter date to submit lead test results for areas outside a fence that was placed around the range this month. The county agency asked the city to test the public sidewalk in front of the range, as well as the sidewalk across the street in front of homes. The city may need to expand the fence around the building if lead is found outside the current perimeter.

Within 14 days, the city must show how it “will prevent lead dust inside the facility from migrating outside the facility.” The range has not been cleaned since July 2014, according to city officials.

The city must also within 14 days tell EMD how it will reduce potential lead exposure coming from the building, by cleaning or encapsulating the building. The city then has 30 days to submit a plan for further soil testing near the range and 120 days to come up with a plan for removing the contaminated soil.

“The health and safety of our residents is our number one priority, and we are working closely with the County to comply with the Corrective Action Order,” city Parks Director Chris Conlin said in a statement released by the city.

The Bee reported this month that the city had test results showing elevated lead levels inside the building dating back to 2006, but waited until 2014 to test the exterior of the facility, according to records and environmental consultant reports obtained by The Sacramento Bee. Two tests in 2014 – one by the city and another by environmental consultant Entek – showed hazardous levels of lead dust on the building’s roof.

A gun range consultant had told the city in 2012 that the building’s ventilation system appeared to be spewing unfiltered air outside.

In an email Wednesday to neighborhood residents, Councilman Jay Schenirer wrote “the city is working cooperatively with the county and we are fully committed to solving this issue in a responsible and timely manner.” Schenirer, who represents the Mangan Park neighborhood between Sacramento Executive Airport and Fruitridge Road, organized a community meeting to discuss the range last week and said in his email he expects to host another meeting in May.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis