DEMING, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced yesterday they have “closed the North Fork rock pit in Whatcom County to target shooting this month after recent testing found significantly elevated levels of lead there that far exceed environmental standards.”
According to the announcement, “The rock pit, located on DNR-managed trust lands northeast of Deming, has long been a popular target shooting destination. However, the site has struggled with garbage dumping, illegal shooting, and other public safety issues.”
During a joint site visit with DNR, initial field tests by the Washington State Department of Ecology found results ranging from 6,420 milligrams of lead per kilogram of soil to 58,100 milligrams of lead per kilogram within the North Fork rock pit. The soil cleanup level for unrestricted land use in Washington state is 250 milligrams of lead per kilogram of soil.
Lead accumulations at these levels can be unsafe for the health of humans and wildlife.
In the wake of the initial test results, DNR will work with Ecology to begin the cleanup process under the state’s Model Toxics Control Act. The next step is to thoroughly study the site to find out the types and extent of the contamination. Risk-based screenings have not yet taken place. Washington State Department of Natural Resources (March 16, 2023)