New York City Department of Environmental Protection Outdoor Firing Range

Posted on June 12, 2015

Client: New York City Police Department
Location: Rodman's Neck, Bronx, New York
Project Type: Operation and Maintenance Program

Project Description

The firm, in partnership with Metals Treatment Technologies (MT2), was retained by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) to prepare and implement a 5 year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Program for the New York City Police Department (NYPD) Outdoor Firing Range, located at Rodman’s Neck, Bronx, New York.

The Rodman’s Neck Firing Range serves as the primary training and requalification shooting range for the NYPD. However, during range use, lead bullets are often fragmented and pulverized upon impact within the earthen backstops and berms, producing soil containing high concentrations of lead.



In The Rodman’s Neck Firing Range is located at the southern peninsula of Pelham Bay Park and consists of six primary ranges separated by a series of “fingers” consisting of earthen berms approximately 20 feet high. The “backstop” of the overall range consists of one continuous two-tiered earthen berm approximately 1,200 feet long and 40 feet high. The firing range facility also includes the NYPD bomb detonation area, a skeet range, administrative support buildings and parking areas. Over the last 3 years, it is estimated that over 20 million rounds have been fired during training activities. Lead bullets (slugs) and slug fragments accumulate on the surface and become imbedded within the soil. In addition, chemical analysis of soil samples collected from the firing ranges detected lead at elevated concentrations.

The presence of lead within range soil represents a potential environmental concern, as well as an occupational health concern for personnel involved in the operation and maintenance of the range. These potential environmental and occupational health concerns will remain unless an effective maintenance program is implemented.

Development of O&M Program

The O&M program was developed in order to identify and define the activities necessary to maintain the quality of the soil and groundwater at the firing ranges and to manage lead contamination resulting from the ongoing use of the facility in a manner that minimizes the disruption to the daily operations of the firing range. Essentially, the program was designed to achieve and maintain compliance with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) manual entitled, “Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges,” dated March 2003. The central component of the 5 year O&M program is the systematic removal of spent bullets from the range soil and chemical stabilization of any remaining residual lead. Additional elements of the O&M program include:

  • Install and develop a comprehensive groundwater monitoring well network;
  • Biannual sampling and analysis of the groundwater under and surrounding the primary ranges;
  • Annual and biannual sampling of the range soil;
  • Conduct soil sampling and remediation of additional range areas, as necessary;
  • Develop conceptual Storm Water Management Plan; and
  • Develop Best Management Practices Plan.

Previously Completed Pilot Study


In 2002/2003, the D&B/MT2 team completed a Soil Stabilization Pilot Study on one of the six ranges as well as an environmental monitoring program, which included soil sampling of all six ranges and groundwater monitoring well installation, development and sampling.

The pilot study was conducted to test the effectiveness of a proprietary lead-stabilizing compound. MT2 utilizes a treatment process known as ECOBOND®, which includes a broad portfolio of patented and proprietary metals treatment technologies that use chemical additives to permanently stabilize heavy metals. MT2’s processes are USEPA-approved, nonhazardous, chemical binders deployed through proprietary methods that treat heavy metals. The resulting treated materials contain extremely stable compounds that virtually eliminate the leaching of metals to the environment. Listed below are a number of general features of MT2’s ECOBOND® technology:

  • ECOBOND® combines with metals to form new minerals that are extremely insoluble;
  • Metal insolubility reduces bioavailability, which is the ability of an organism to uptake metals into the body;
  • Metal insolubility reduces the toxicity of the metals to living organisms;
  • The solubility of ECOBOND®-treated metals is typically reduced by a factor of 10 to 1,000 times; and
  • ECOBOND®-treated metals will not only pass the USEPA’s standard Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) test, but will also pass the more rigorous Multiple Extraction Procedure (MEP), which simulates 1,000 years of metals stabilization.

Soil was excavated from the upper soil horizon at the flat and berm of the range chosen for the pilot study, screened for bullets and bullet fragments and mixed with the ECOBOND® stabilization agent. Post-treatment sampling indicated that the ECOBOND® process was effective in stabilizing the lead in the soil and the treated soil was returned to the range. Later, soil sampling of the range soil confirmed the long-term effectiveness of the treatment in reducing the leachability of lead present in the soil.

Current Soil Stabilization Project

The MT2/D&B team completed the comprehensive soil maintenance/chemical stabilization of the six primary ranges in two phases in 2006. The first phase consisted of the chemical stabilization of three of the ranges from June through August 2006. The chemical stabilization program was executed at one range at a time and the work was completed within the physical confines of each individual range. The second phase consisted of the chemical stabilization of the final three ranges from September to October 2006, consistent with the procedures utilized in the first phase. A brief overview of the completed chemical stabilization program on the six primary ranges is outlined below.

  • Excavation of the flat and berm areas of each range to the required depths;
  • Screening of the soil through a series of screens for reclamation of lead fragments;
  • Recycling of the lead fragments;
  • Treating of the screened soil using ECOBOND to meet project action levels;
  • Air monitoring and sampling; and
  • Reconstruction of each firing range, including revegetation of the berms.

Confirmatory soil sampling, including post-excavation and treatment verification soil sampling, was conducted and indicated that final leachable lead concentrations were all below project action levels. Accordingly, the soil stabilization activities utilizing ECOBOND® were successful in reducing the leachability of lead in range soil.

Current Environmental Sampling Program


The firing range is an active firearm training and requalification facility. The firm worked closely with site management to minimize disruption to training activities. In accordance with the current 5 year O&M program, the following environmental sampling activities were completed in August and September 2006 at the firing range:

  • Groundwater Monitoring Well Installation and Development – A total of 26 monitoring wells were installed and developed within and surrounding the primary ranges. The network was designed to monitor any dissolved lead which may migrate from the primary ranges.
  • Biannual Groundwater Monitoring Well Sampling – Thirty-nine groundwater monitoring wells, including newly installed wells as well as existing wells which were located, were sampled and the collected groundwater was analyzed. Sampling was completed utilizing a low-flow methodology, which improves the accuracy of dissolved lead concentrations in groundwater.
  • Biannual and Annual Soil Sampling – A total of 144 soil samples were collected and analyzed from the upper soil horizon of the flats and berms of all six ranges utilizing an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Geoprobe unit. The ranges have very poor drainage, and typically exhibit ponding of water and muddy conditions. This sampling methodology was found to be most efficient given these conditions. Lead bullets and bullet fragments were screened from the soil samples utilizing sieves.
  • Soil Sampling of Additional Areas – A total of 134 shallow soil samples were collected and analyzed using an ATV Geoprobe unit from the Skeet Range, Lagoon Area and Bomb Pit 1. These areas, located south of the primary ranges, had exhibited elevated concentrations of leachable lead in a previous investigation conducted by NYCDEP in 2002/2003.

Conceptual Storm Water Management Plan

The six ranges frequently flood during periods of precipitation due to run-off entering the ranges from the paved road and parking lots located north of the ranges, as well as from the roof of the firing range service buildings. In addition, the six primary ranges exhibit poor drainage due to the hard and dense nature of the soil on the shooting range flats. It is likely that this hardened soil matrix is the result of the chemical fixation methodology previously utilized by others to stabilize soil within the ranges between 1994 and 1996. Furthermore, the ranges remain flooded, even after several days of dry weather, due to the poor drainage. The presence of standing water not only hinders the daily use and maintenance of the ranges, but also significantly increases the potential for residual lead present in the soil to leach into the standing water which, in turn, may impact site groundwater quality.

D&B completed a preliminary evaluation of site drainage conditions and potential storm water management options as part of a conceptual Storm Water Management Plan. The objective was to evaluate the existing drainage of the six primary ranges and to identify potential drainage improvements for both storm water quantity and quality control. This included a detailed topographic and drainage study of the facility.

Storm Water Best Management Practices Plan

D&B prepared a Storm Water Best Management Practices (BMP) Plan, dated January 2007, to address the storm water issues associated with the six primary ranges at the facility. The objectives of the storm water BMP Plan include:

  • Reduce the amount of storm water runoff that comes into contact with range soil, thereby reducing the potential for the leaching of lead.
  • Reduce the frequency of flooding that currently occurs at the six primary ranges, thereby reducing the frequency with which the NYPD must close the six ranges, and reducing the additional maintenance and overtime costs incurred by the NYPD to drain the ranges.


The BMP Plan recommended that three storm water management improvements be implemented at the Rodman’s Neck facility. The first improvement involves controlling the storm water run-off entering the ranges from the paved road and parking lots by installing a new concrete curb and drainage system. Storm water run-off would be captured and conveyed to adjacent surface water bodies. The second improvement is a pilot study to be conducted on one of the ranges which would involve the “breaking up” and removal of the low permeable soil cement present on the “flat” portion of the range. The soil cement would be replaced with a soil/ECOBOND® mixture to improve drainage of storm water while protecting groundwater quality. The third improvement would be the removal of soil cement from the remaining ranges, assuming the pilot study produces acceptable results.

Future Field Activities

The 5 year Operation and Maintenance Program for the Rodman’s Neck facility will continue to be implemented with the following elements:

Chemical Stabilization Program

The MT2/D&B Team have completed a comprehensive soil maintenance/chemical stabilization program on all six primary ranges. Annual and biannual soil sampling was conducted in August and September 2006, after the first three of the ranges had undergone soil maintenance. The significantly higher leachable lead concentrations observed in the untreated ranges as compared to the treated ranges demonstrates that removal and recycling of the lead fragments along with treatment of soil using the ECOBOND® lead stabilization technology effectively reduces the leachability of lead present in soil. Therefore, the lead maintenance program will continue under a 3-year cycle, with the six primary ranges receiving soil maintenance again in 2009.

Annual and Biannual Sampling

The annual and biannual soil and groundwater sampling programs will be continued through, at least, 2010.

Soil Maintenance/Chemical Stabilization of Additional Areas

Frequent and significant elevated concentrations of leachable lead were observed during soil sampling conducted in the Skeet Range, Lagoon Area and Bomb Pit 1. Therefore, these areas will undergo chemical stabilization in the summer of 2007, including excavation of the impacted soil, treatment of the excavated soil utilizing ECOBOND® and restoration of the treated soil following confirmatory soil sampling.

Storm Water Management

The NYCDEP and NYPD have reviewed the Storm Water BMP Plan and will pursue the second recommendation, the soil cement removal pilot study, in 2007. The initial step of the pilot study will be a bench-scale test by MT2 to determine the optimal soil/ECOBOND® mixture to utilize as a replacement for the low permeable soil cement currently present on the “flat” portion of the ranges. Soil samples will

be collected from local sources of soil and mixed with varying amounts of ECOBOND®. Soil column tests will be performed in the laboratory where simulated rainfall is allowed to percolate through the mixtures. The leachate is tested for the amount of leachable lead to determine which mixture best protects groundwater quality. Based on the results of the bench-scale test, a soil/ECOBOND® mixture will be selected and the NYCDEP and NYPD will decide on whether to implement the full pilot study.

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