Effective November 1st, the high-power range at Plantation Rifle range will be closed as Whatcom County Parks works to resolve environmental issues related to lead accumulation. Under a formal agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology, Whatcom County will address regulatory violations and take proactive steps to prevent future impacts to water quality.
Plantation Rifle Range has been in operation since 1971. Lead bullets and fragments from the last 50 years are embedded in the berms which serve as backstops at the range. This accumulation of lead, a potential environmental health hazard, has become a cause of concern for Whatcom County and State Agencies. Recent testing confirmed high concentrations of lead in the soil. Additionally, surface water tests downstream of the range indicated a concentration of lead that marginally exceeded Clean Water Act standards for aquatic life in fresh water systems. At the same time, the detected level of lead has remained well below the regulatory benchmarks for drinking water.
While no tests conducted to date have shown lead levels in water approaching a concentration that would present a human health hazard, we know this may be a concerning topic. We take these issues - and our community’s health - very seriously. We are committed to the health of our environment and our community. For questions about lead in your drinking water, please refer to the Whatcom County Health Department’s informational webpage on lead.
Closure of the high-power Range allows the County to focus on clean-up efforts and prevent any additional deposition of lead into the wetlands. As the project progresses, the County will engage with stakeholders over the long-term future of the range and analyze the costs and benefits associated with continuing operations under stricter regulations.
For additional information regarding the project, including notifications for future public information sessions, please visit our project page or email [email protected].