Kitsap gun club withdraws from toxic cleanup program

Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club has decided against undertaking a formal environmental cleanup of its property on Seabeck Highway — at least not any time soon, according to club officials.

The property is listed as a “hazardous site” by the Washington Department of Ecology, mostly because of lead and metals associated with shooting activities. The club had entered into the state’s Voluntary Cleanup Program — which puts a property owner in charge of the cleanup — but then withdrew from the program in late October.

Marcus Carter, executive officer for KRRC, told me that the club had been assured by state officials that if it entered the Volunteer Cleanup Program, it would not be placed on the state’s Hazardous Sites List.

“But they went ahead and ranked us anyway,” he said.

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I wrote about that ranking in the Kitsap Sun in January of 2013. The gun range was rated a “2” on a scale from 1 to 5, with “1” being the worst. I noted in the story that many sites ranked a “2” go without action for years. KRRC later disputed the ranking, saying available evidence should place it no higher than a “3.”

A letter written in October by Bruce Danielson (PDF 889 kb), attorney for the club, explained why KRRC was withdrawing from the program. He also noted, “Our voluntary participation has been an unacceptable drain on valuable resources that KRRC can no long afford to expend for no purpose.”

As an example of wasteful spending, Danielson cited a charge for a “fraudulent” phone call from the state Attorney General’s Office related to the site. The unwarranted billing was dropped, he noted, but only after significant effort by club officials.

Marcus Carter said he realizes that the shooting range could get stuck on the “Hazardous Sites List” for many years, similar to the situation with the Navy’s Camp Wesley Harris. The abandoned shooting range on Navy property also was ranked a “2.” Other than an initial cleanup, the Navy has taken no steps to get the property removed from the list. For a full list of hazardous sites, download the latest Hazardous Sites List (PDF 535 kb).

Marcus said the club initiated an extensive recycling program years ago to regularly remove lead and other contaminants from earthen berms that stop the bullets. The only contamination outside the range itself are small amounts of materials where shooting took place years ago, he said.

“Nothing is leaving our property,” Marcus insisted. “There have been no suggestions from DOE to make our operations more efficient or to do anything differently.”

As described in a Kitsap Sun story in April of 2012, the gun club has been following an approach generally accepted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency:

“The club has relied on using EPA’s ‘best management practices’ to avoid being deemed a hazardous waste site subject to cleanup. State law does not include such provisions, but Ecology endorses EPA’s suggested practices, which are outlined in a 1997 letter written by Jeff Hannapel in EPA’s Office of Solid Waste.”

I then quoted from the Hannapel’s letter:

“The agency has taken the position that the discharge of ammunition or lead shot does not constitute hazardous waste disposal, because the agency does not consider the rounds from the weapons to be ‘discarded.’ Furthermore, the lead shot has not been ‘discarded’ by virtue of its discharge at the shooting range, because the discharge is within the normal and expected use pattern of the manufactured product. Accordingly, lead shot would be considered scrap metal for regulatory purposes.”

Ecology officials admit that they don’t have enough money to force property owners to clean up the most-contaminated sites, let alone those lower on list.

For several years, the group CK Safe and Quiet, which includes residents living near the shooting range, has been urging Ecology to get the site cleaned up. The group has expressed concerns about contamination leaving the site and getting into nearby waterways.

In 2011, the organization filed a notice saying it would sue for cleanup under the federal Clean Water Act, which allows citizen-initiated lawsuits. I mentioned the claims in a Kitsap Sun article at the time.

The group never filed the federal case, pending legal action against the club by Kitsap County, which focused on land-use and noise issues. A ruling in the county’s case was recently handed down by the Washington State Court of Appeals. See Kitsap Sun story by reporter Josh Farley.

Some members of CK Safe and Quiet say they are now considering a renewal of their Clean Water Act claims. Ryan Vancil, an attorney who wrote the 2011 letter (PDF 134 kb), no longer represents the group, but members are consulting with a new lawyer.

3 thoughts on “Kitsap gun club withdraws from toxic cleanup program

  1. It’s time for the KRRC to stop their bully behavior. They need to clean up their mess in the Chico Creek Watershed which affects us all. They can do a meaningful effort like responsible neighbors. The Chico Creek Task Force is very familiar with the Clean Water Act.

    1. Jack, You are so far off-base here, spewing your biased opinion as some kind of fact because you suspect it might be so.

      There are NO pollutants escaping from KRRC property!

      We have been surveyed by the EPA, the State Department of Ecology, and the county Health Department, all confirming NO Pollutants or lead is leaving our land, let alone “making a mess in the Chico Creek Watershed!

      NO ONE in Kitsap County is being affected by the lead from 88 years of shooting into the dirt berms that stays there until we mine it to recycle it.

      We are pro-active with the existance of an enviromental stewardship committee led by an industrial environmental engineer that routinely samples the grounds, the wetlands and the stormwater outfall leading to Chico Creek.

      All water samples are delivered to an independent accredited lab under chain-of custody protocols, and ALL have been reported clear and clean!

      IF the Chico Creek Taskforce would like to see the real evidence of these facts, you are invited to contact the club and ask to talk to us about them, or take your own sample from the outlet under the highway, and have it PROVEN to you, rather than just throwing stones ay KRRC.

      1. I re-read the article again to see if I missed the part about your water testing since you accused me of “spewing” my bias. I did not read that in the article on my second read.
        I don’t know what bias that you’re talking about. I reviewed over 22,000 emails of former Washington State DNR employee, Mark Mauren concerning the Chico Watershed. If you’ll ask Marcus, I believe he’ll tell you that I provided him with a couple of emails that mentioned the KRRC. As I’ve said, I don’t care if you have a bazooka fight with a Sherman tank, but IF you are now making a problem, take care of it.
        We’ve been trying for over five years to get an honest environmental impact study done by the SAME DCD that you folks have been fighting. We’ve had no environmental help been from the KRRC, so when I read this article it seemed like you were now thumbing your noses at water quality in the Chico Creek Watershed.

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