90-year-old water transmission line that delivers drinking water to 1/4 million people transverses a gun range with industrial levels of lead, says Environmental Citizens, LLC

May 19, 2014, 13:17 ET from Environmental Citizens, LLC

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., May 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Residents of St. Petersburg, Florida have lost control over the management of hazardous waste from shooting ranges. Their main water transmission line, which is 90 years old, runs through a gun range that's contaminated with lead. Regulators say that 60 years of target practice at The Skyway Gun Club contaminated the soil, groundwater, and surface water at Sawgrass Lake with about 10,000 tons of spent lead shot. In 2000, the EPA ordered an emergency assessment of the area and found dangerous levels of lead and arsenic in the soil, surface water, and groundwater at the Sawgrass site. The EPA ordered a $23 million cleanup effort of the lake.

After state agencies sued the gun club for polluting public-owned land, the Florida legislature passed a bill, initiated by the National Rifle Association, granting immunity to any gun range across the state of Florida that pollutes the environment with lead, and requiring taxpayers to pay for lead cleanup. What's more, the bill makes it a misdemeanor for any state official to bring a claim against a shooting range in the state of Florida.

According to state officials, the gun club is responsible for cleaning up lead on its property, which contains a water transmission line that supplies drinking water to a quarter-million people. However, the gun club has not yet cleaned up lead on its property, and state law prohibits officials from monitoring activities at shooting ranges in Florida. Further, cleanup crews disposed of soil from Sawgrass at several locations throughout Florida, including a farm, a topsoil company that sells landscaping materials, and a city landfill. A second Florida gun range is using the same contaminated soil from Sawgrass to create a berm. This activity may violate federal law RCRA Subtitles C and D1, which governs the disposal of hazardous waste.

The city's 90-year-old water transmission line, located on gun club property, was dug up and backfilled with the same soil from the gun club. During the rerouting, a section of the pipe accidentally separated and was put back together and patched because the crew did not order enough pipe. The compromised water transmission line transports virgin water from the well fields to the pump stations. The pump stations, in turn, pump the water throughout the city. The water transmission line has a 50-foot easement -- and nothing is allowed in that 50-foot easement that could be hazardous to the city's drinking water. The city's main water line runs through a lead-filled area, notwithstanding the fact lead is one of the most hazardous materials to mankind.

SOURCE Environmental Citizens, LLC