New Guidance on Shooting Range Regulations & Toxic Waste
Great news for Gun Ranges in California! CRPA and our attorneys have been working on an issue that many may not know anything about. It has to do with shooting ranges and how they handle contaminated soil. In an abrupt turnaround, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) changed its position on allowing shooting ranges to return residual soil taken from backstops and shot fall zones back to where it came from after lead reclamation projects.
After over seven years of legal pressure, lobbying, and negotiations between the DTSC, CRPA, NRA and their law firm, Michel & Associates, this month DTSC finally adopted EPA’s Guidance Document allowing lead impacted soil to be returned to the range after recycling. This is a huge win for shooting ranges in California and one that should help ranges save a lot of money while staying within the regulatory environmental requirements.
DTSC had initially planned to publish an internal guidance document outlining all the California regulations that apply to the operation of a shooting range including how to dispose of soil after lead reclamation, which they consider “hazardous waste.” In numerous meetings with DTSC personnel on the topic, DTSC confirmed that it initially would not adopt the EPA Guidance Document recommendation as it applies to residual soil. We worked to informed DTSC of the unintended consequences of requiring ranges to dispose of this soil after lead reclamation as hazardous waste.
At first, DTSC was unpersuaded and maintained its position stating that it could not follow EPA’s Guidance Document because of federal pre-emption, which does not allow California to enforce hazardous waste laws in a less stringent manner that federal law, as EPA’s Guidance Document was only guidance and not federal law. Additionally, DTSC cited California law that they understood as mandating soil to be hazardous waste if lead was present.
As a result, our attorneys and filed a petition to change the regulations and DTSC denied it. Then they introduced legislation twice to change the law, but it was shut down both times in committee. Negotiations continued with DTSC to resolve the issue, but every potential work-around on the regulations produced additional red tape and costs that would be prohibitive for shooting ranges.
Not until the recent enforcement push by local state agencies on shooting ranges did the unintended consequences become apparent to DTSC. Again, our attorneys engaged DTSC personnel with the issue and finally DTSC relented and published guidance on its website.
This is a tremendous win for shooting ranges throughout the state as DTSC’s previous position would have forced many shooting ranges out of business because they could not afford to dispose of their residual soil as hazardous waste after lead reclamation. And ranges could not afford to not do lead reclamation because of safety concerns.
These are the types of efforts CRPA continually works on to protect shooting ranges in California from regulatory impacts.
Please help support our efforts by making a donation to CRPA today.