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Originally published Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 3:07 PM

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Lead-contaminated soil removed from gun range

Wade’s Gun Shop in Bellevue has removed lead-contaminated soil, but state Department of Ecology can’t certify the job is finished outside the gun range where workers were exposed to high levels of the dangerous metal.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Lead-contaminated soil was removed from outside a Bellevue gun range, but environmental regulators say they haven’t received confirmation the job was fully completed.

The excavation of soil took place in February at Bellevue Indoor Range, part of Wade’s Gun Shop, where workers were exposed to high levels of toxic lead during a remodeling project last fall.

On June 4 the state Department of Ecology informed the shop on Northeast Bel-Red Road that it was being added to a state list of sites contaminated by hazardous substances.

The worst contamination was in the uppermost two inches of soil near the gun store’s sign, where an informant told state investigators that workers had dumped barrels full of contaminated wash water.

The water apparently had been used to clean part of the parking lot after lead bullet fragments were removed from sand in a bullet trap, Ecology spokesman Larry Altose said Friday.

Ecology inspectors watched as workers excavated contaminated soil from around the sign and from a second contaminated area along the south side of the shooting range.

About 20 cubic yards of dirt were removed and taken to a hazardous-waste facility, according to Ecology records. But the agency told Wade’s it couldn’t confirm the cleanup has been completed because Wade’s didn’t submit tests showing soil in the excavated areas was now clean.

A separate investigation by Bellevue Utilities did not find any evidence of lead contamination in storm sewers.

The state Department of Labor and Industries last month fined Wade’s $23,480 for 17 alleged violations of safety rules in connection with the exposure of workers to lead during the addition of a second floor to the gun range and removal of the sand bullet trap.

Wade’s has appealed the fine.

A construction contractor, S.D. Deacon Corp. of Washington, was fined $10,750 in connection with workers’ exposure to lead.

Forty-seven workers employed by Wade’s or construction contractors were found to have elevated levels of lead after receiving blood tests last fall. Twenty-four reported symptoms consistent with lead poisoning, Public Health-Seattle & King County reported.

Ecology’s Altose said lead levels in the excavated soil were not exceptionally high, and any possible remaining contamination would be in locations where there isn’t a great likelihood of public exposure.

Wade’s owner Wade Gaughran could not be reached for comment.

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

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