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Pilot Program Will Further Evaluate Lead Ammo Effects at Cape Cod Military Base

Release Date: 02/06/2009
Contact Information: Jim Murphy, (617) 918-1028

(Boston, Mass. – Feb. 6, 2009) – EPA has approved a second pilot program for the Massachusetts National Guard to further evaluate a lead bullet capture system on two additional small arms ranges, and has also extended the duration of the initial small arms range pilot project which began in August 2007. The pilot program is taking place at Camp Edwards, at the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) in Bourne, Mass.

The authorization for lead ammunition training at the three ranges, which expires at the end of 2009, calls for regular testing of soil and water resources with reporting to state and federal environmental officials to ensure that land and water resources are not significantly impacted by the reintroduction of lead bullets to the ranges.

EPA's top priority remains protecting the water resources at the Cape. Data from the first year of the training pilot indicate that resuming training along with the bullet capture system and other requirements will not harm the groundwater aquifer. To confirm this, EPA will continue to carefully evaluate the results of the broader pilot program.

In response to the National Guard’s request in Sept. 2008 to reopen the additional ranges on a limited basis, EPA sought public comment on a proposal to modify the Safe Drinking Water Act Administrative Order issued in April 1997 to allow the firing of lead ammunition using the lead bullet capture system at the specified small arms ranges. That proposed modification included a temporary extension of the existing authorization to fire with lead ammunition at Tango Range, and an authorization for a pilot project for firing lead ammunition at Juliet and Kilo Ranges.

Following public comments on the proposal, the “Operation, Maintenance and Monitoring Plans” for the three ranges were further revised by the National Guard. The measures are devised to ensure that the capture system is properly maintained, functioning as designed and inspected and operated in accordance with all requirements. The environmental monitoring plan is designed to confirm that the environment is protected from releases of hazardous substances and includes testing soil and pore water (water approximately four to five feet below the surface) at the firing line and in front of the bullet capture system, and testing groundwater downgradient of the range.

In approving the pilot projects, EPA is requiring the National Guard to submit a final report on the results of the Tango Range pilot project by April 2, 2009 and a report on any compliance issues from the three ranges by June 30, 2009. EPA will make any future determination concerning long term authorization for lead ammunition training following a thorough analysis and substantial public review of the data generated during the pilot projects.

The Pollution Prevention, Operation, and Maintenance Plans for Juliet and Kilo Ranges developed by the Massachusetts National Guard in coordination with state and federal regulatory agencies employs a bullet capture system, regular maintenance of the system, and regular monitoring of the soil and water. Camp Edwards remains one of only a few military bases across the country to incorporate the innovative new “STAPP Environmental Bullet Catcher” system at firing ranges. The STAPP catcher has two rubber membranes surrounding a layer of granulated rubber. Test range bullets are encased within the system and prevented from reaching the surrounding soil and water.

EPA has worked closely with a number of agencies to resolve issues related to reintroduction of lead bullets at the small arms ranges on Camp Edwards. These include the Environmental Management Commission, the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Mass. National Guard, and the U.S. Army Environmental Center’s Impact Area Groundwater Study Program.

Camp Edwards is part of the Massachusetts Military Reservation, a 20,000-acre area of Upper Cape Cod that also includes command centers for the Massachusetts Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard. The training facility is located within the Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve. The Reserve is state public conservation land dedicated to protecting the sole source aquifer that provides drinking water for the Upper Cape. The Reserve also allows military training that is compatible with protecting the water supply and the wildlife habitat.

More information:

EPA information on MMR (

- EPA Authorization document (