The Public Eye

New toxic lead hot spots found in south Sacramento park near gun range

Hazardous lead levels found in Mangan Park outside gun range, city fences off building

Multiple tests show lead levels above state hazard levels in surface soil and on surfaces near the range.
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Multiple tests show lead levels above state hazard levels in surface soil and on surfaces near the range.

The city of Sacramento has found new hot spots of lead outside its shuttered gun range and expanded a fence perimeter around the building.

Environmental consultant Entek found lead dust at concentrations more than twice the California Department of Public Health hazard level on the sidewalk in front of the range and on two spots in a parking lot behind the building, according to a report the firm sent the city Wednesday. One of the contaminated spots in the parking lot was 35 feet from the range building.

Most of the 26 surface tests conducted by Entek around the range found lead dust at levels below state public health hazard levels. That includes a sidewalk adjacent to homes across the street from the range, where lead dust was found at levels far below the hazard threshold.

Lead was also found in six surface soil tests. But only one of those tests – taken 10 feet from the building inside the prior fence perimeter – found lead above the state Department of Toxic Substances Control screening level for commercial areas. Another soil sample found lead concentrations just below the state environmental standard.

The James G. Mangan Rifle and Pistol Range was shut down by City Manager John Shirey on Dec. 24, 2014, after repeated tests found high levels of lead inside the building. The city had records of high lead levels inside the range dating back to 2006.

A 2012 report by a gun range consultant said the facility’s ventilation system appeared to be spewing unfiltered air to the outdoors, but the city waited two years to test the roof. Two rounds of tests in 2014 found lead dust on the roof at levels far exceeding state public health limits, according to test records and consultant reports obtained by The Sacramento Bee through the Public Records Act.

City officials did not tell park users or nearby residents why the range was closed and did not test the surrounding soil or surfaces until after The Bee began inquiring about the range in March. The city has not cleaned the range since July 2014 and did not fence off the building until last month, nearly 480 days after the range was closed.

Entek recommended in its report Wednesday that the city expand the chain link fence perimeter to block the rear parking lot and the sidewalk 50 feet in either direction of the building. The fenced area now blocks nearly 100 feet in both directions in front of the range. The fence also stretches to within about 50 feet of a picnic area.

Entek’s report also recommended the city consider cleaning the soil more than 10 feet from the building.

Joe Hernandez, a neighborhood resident with a 3-year-old daughter, said he is frustrated with what he considers a slow response by the city to the lead found inside and outside the range. He said he has not received any updates from the city, despite signing his name to a distribution list at a community meeting last month.

“I’m not surprised at all (more lead dust was found),” he said. “Until they tear that building down, we’re not going anywhere near it.”

Tests last month determined that a nearby picnic area, playground, pool and archery range were clean. But those tests also showed hazardous levels of lead dust on the front walkway, roof and main entrance door of the range. Lead concentrations above state environmental standards for commercial properties were discovered in six surface soil samples taken near the range, including one reading near a bullet trap hatch that was nearly 200 times the standard.

The city hired Entek to conduct another round of tests last week under an order from the Sacramento County Environmental Management Department, which is working with the state toxic substances department as the lead agency in the response to the range contamination.

The county environmental agency has given the city until next week to produce a plan showing how it “will prevent lead dust inside the facility from migrating outside the facility,” according to a letter the agency sent city officials April 22. The city’s plan may include cleaning or encapsulating the building. Councilman Jay Schenirer, who represents the Mangan Park neighborhood, has said he wants the facility cleaned and prefers that it be torn down.

The city also has 30 days from April 22 to submit a plan to the county for further soil testing near the facility and 120 days to develop a plan for removing contaminated soil.

The county environmental agency said in its letter that it is authorized “to assess administrative penalties for contamination caused by the release of hazardous waste” or if the city fails to comply with the orders.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis

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