Sportsman’s Park lead test results in
By David Sharos For The Sun August 1, 2012 4:56PM
The Park District has hired The Shaw Group Inc. to analyze soil and water samples at Sportsman's Park in Naperville, to discover the amount of lead still in the park. The lead is the remnants of years of shooting lead shot at the trap shooting facility. The firing of lead shot has not been allowed for years there. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 4, 2012 6:11AM
The results are in from a preliminary environmental assessment at Sportsman’s Park in Naperville, and the findings are not surprising.
Shaw Environmental Inc. performed its assessment of soil and groundwater at the park in accordance with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation plan for the work.
Shaw tested the monitoring wells installed at the 27-acre site and did not encounter lead at concentrations exceeding IEPA groundwater and drinking water standards. However, also as anticipated, the assessment found lead at levels within the area where shot from trap shooting has fallen that will require remediation.
The assessment also found lead beyond the eastern fence boundary in a limited area at concentrations exceeding the IEPA rules for exposure.
As a precaution, the Park District has moved an existing pathway that goes through that location by erecting temporary fencing within the eastern portion of the park.
The results of the assessment were consistent with previous investigations, which pleased Naperville Park District Executive Director Ray McGury.
“The results we have received contained no great surprises and the area inside the fence, as we expected, has to be remediated,” McGury said. “The wells are fine and the drinking water is fine.”
Officials plan to ramp up efforts in an area beyond the eastern fence where the IEPA found concentrations of lead that McGury said weren’t really surprising “since the shooting stations earlier on were more forward toward the middle of the park.”
“There is an area outside the fence, and I’ve made the decision that we need to do this right and test everything,” McGury said. “The area in question was never a safety issue, but we know that there must be lead in the ground there from years past before 1999 when we changed things and allowed only steel shot.”
McGury said risk of contamination to anyone from the area outside the fence would require someone to cut “six- to 10-foot bushes and getting down on the ground and eating the dirt.” Despite that, the area will be fenced off and remediated as well.
“We’ll probably cut down some of the native species and replant some trees or expand the parking lot, as there is always a need for more spaces,” McGury said. “Basically our intent is to encapsulate the area along the eastern portion, but we’re looking at this as something analogous with a surgeon: when he finds something, he doesn’t cut out the whole organ. We have portions that need to be left alone as there is good ground already in place.”
Further testing will be scheduled in the months and years ahead, McGury said, “in order to pinpoint what needs to be cleaned up and what doesn’t.”
“Until all the testing is complete, we won’t have a dollar figure regarding what this is going to cost as we move forward in the next five to 10 years” he said. “We plan on being ultra-cautious, but we don’t want anyone to panic. The area outside is not highly accessible.”
Used primarily for trap shooting practice, the park southwest of Oswego Road and West Street is home to the Naperville Sportsman’s Club. About 1,000 trap shooters visit the facility each year. Lead shot, considered an environmental hazard, has been banned for more than a decade at the range, but it was used there by the sport shooters for half a century before that.
Lead deposits remaining in the soil at the park have created problems in the past. An IEPA report that found traces of lead in groundwater samples taken at the site led to its closure for three months early in 1997. The following year, a federal lawsuit filed by a neighbor of the park asserted contamination, launching a court battle that would bring the city $1 million in legal expenses and close the park for 2 1/2 years. The range reopened when the state granted a permit limiting the patrons to steel shot.
The results of all assessment activities will be published in a report that is anticipated to be available for public viewing in the fall.