Providence to spend at least $1M to clean up firing range near Scituate Reservoir

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence is planning to spend more than $1 million to remove lead bullets and fragments from a police shooting range it owns less than 300 feet from the Scituate Reservoir, Target 12 has learned.

Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements confirmed Tuesday the city is planning a “maintenance program” for the shooting range the city has owned and operated for more than 50 years, but stressed that testing shows the water supply has not been contaminated.

“Clearly the city is responsible,” Clements said, adding that “drinking water has not been affected.”

  • Tonight at 6: Target 12 investigator Walt Buteau takes a deeper look into the city’s plan

Clements said it was premature to say how much the city intends to spend cleaning up the range, but he acknowledged it will cost more than $1 million. He said the city has been in talks with the Providence Water Supply Board and the R.I. Department of Environmental Management.

Clements said the range has not been in operation for more than a year, but acknowledged the city plans to use it for its upcoming police academy.

The range is located on about 1.3 acres of land off Battery Meeting House Fire Lane in Scituate, approximately 260 feet east of the Scituate Reservoir. The space includes separate ranges for handguns, shotguns and rifles.

The Scituate Reservoir is operated by the Providence Water Supply Board and provides drinking water to 60% of Rhode Island’s population.

In a memorandum to DEM and water board officials dated Jan. 20, the Pare Corporation said it agrees with previous studies done on the range that suggested metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been detected in sediment in the vicinity of the site, but that dissolved lead was not reported at concentrations “exceeding laboratory detection limits in the surface water samples.”

Pare Corporation, which was hired by the city, concluded that a work plan should be crafted “to prevent the potential migration of metal from the firing range to the reservoir.”

“The firing range appears to have had a minor impact on sediment and no discernible impact on surface water,” the memo stated. “Even though the range does not appear to be impacting the reservoir, there is a significant amount of lead deposited at the firing range that, if left unattended, could impact the reservoir in the future.”

The memo lays out six phases for cleaning up the area, which includes a soil screening to evaluate which areas on the range have been impacted by firing range activity; removing used bullets from the range; blending contaminated soil with concrete to stabilize lead; and upgrades to the range.

Gail Mastrati, a spokesperson for DEM, said the agency is still reviewing the plan.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan