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Communities in Action
Williston, VT: Test Results Show Lead Contamination Spreading in Vermont town: Lead from nearby shooting range in Williston has not been cleaned up as promised.
This past summer, the community group Lead-Free Williston tested a neighborhood brook, a nearby pond and one of their members’ drinking water wells for lead contamination. Unfortunately, they weren’t surprised to find lead in each of these bodies of water, including levels four times the legal limit in the drinking water well.
Lead-Free Williston formed nearly three years ago when lead started showing up at very low levels in drinking water wells. The most apparent source was the North Country Sportsmen’s Club, a nearby shooting range where decades of lead shot have accumulated in the soil. The Sportsmen’s Club had never implemented the best management practices laid out by the Environmental Protection Agency and now their negligence threatened the environment and health of their neighbors with exposure to lead. For their safety, local families must lived on bottled water; meanwhile a neighboring farm, which depended on the brook to water cattle, now must search for an alternative source. In response to our work with Lead-Free Williston, the shooting range applied for and received a public grant to clean up the lead. That was one and a half years ago, and this summer’s test results found levels of lead in the brook identical to the readings from two years prior. In addition, for the first time the tests showed dangerous levels of lead in one neighbor’s drinking water well.
“We recognize that the shooting club has taken initial steps to address the lead issue,” said Jessica Edgerly, Toxics Action Center’s Vermont state director, “however, a good try isn’t enough. The shooting range needs to take expedient action to clean up their mess.”
This winter, the Williston Selectboard plans to take a closer look at the issue. Meanwhile, Lead-Free Williston continues to collect petitions, raise awareness and generate media coverage of the lead problem.
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