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EPA Visits Southampton Police Firing Range

Village police chief says no violations or issues found.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency visited the Southampton Village Police Department's outdoor firing range Monday, the police chief said.

“I’m not sure who did it, but someone complained to the EPA about our firearms range," Chief Thomas Cummings told the Village Board Tuesday. An EPA agent came and took soil samples, but found no violations and did not expect the soil to test poorly, the chief said.

“Obviously, we’ve been doing things properly, all throughout the years,” Cummings said.

He told Patch that the main environmental concern associated with firing ranges is lead from bullets, which can leech into the groundwater, but he said the village range is used so infrequently that it did not spark the EPA's concerns. He said that while many ranges have 100 lanes that are used 250 days a year, his department's range has only 24 lanes and is mostly only used on a quarterly basis, and at half capacity at most. Though, he added, some officers use the range in between quarterly sessions.

The EPA agent did suggest that the police department brings in a company every three years to collect the lead from the berm that bullets are shot into, and Cummings said he is following the suggestion. He is getting an estimate soon, he told the board. “I don’t expect it to cost us any money. We may actually make money," because lead is recyclable.

The firing range is located in Tuckahoe Woods, outside of the village boundaries but on village-owned land. The range was in the news in December when Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley ordered the village police to stop use the range while school is in session. Epley had said the move came after he received a complaint that students and teachers at the Tuckahoe School could hear gunfire coming from the range four days after the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

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