Cleanup of gun range near Scituate Reservoir to cost Providence $3M

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence City Council Finance Committee voted Wednesday to approve a $3-million plan to remove lead bullets and fragments from a police shooting range the city owns that is located less than 300 feet from the Scituate Reservoir.

The committee voted to send the proposal to the full City Council on the condition that the city solicitor signs off on the deal. The next council meeting is May 18.

Under the terms of the deal, the Providence Water Supply Board will pay for the immediate cleanup and the city will repay the board in two installments over the next two years.

The Scituate Reservoir is operated by Providence Water and provides drinking water to 60% of Rhode Island’s population. City officials have repeatedly said the cleanup is a “proactive” measure and drinking water has not been contaminated.

In January, Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements said the cost of the cleanup would be more than $1 million, but officials from Providence Water disclosed to the Finance Committee actual bill will be $3 million.

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.

Pare Corporation, a firm hired by Providence Water to study the range, concluded that a work plan should be crafted “to prevent the potential migration of metal from the firing range to the reservoir,” according to a memo the city issued to the R.I. Department of Environmental Management.

The memo laid 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.

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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