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SF Faces $10 Million Toxic Waste Problem At Lake Merced Gun Club

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - Cleaning up 60 years of lead bullets and clay ducks from the shooting range on the shore of Lake Merced could cost San Francisco taxpayers as much as $10 million, city officials said.

The problem goes back to the 1930s when the Pacific Rod and Gun Club first opened the shooting range on land it still leases from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Lead bullets and toxic clay ducks were the norm until the law changed in 1994.

KCBS' Barbara Taylor Reports:

PUC chair Ed Harrington said his agency wants the gun club to share the pain, but the burden ultimately lies with the city because the lease contains no provisions for dealing with this kind of problem.

"When you own a lot of land, and you had it used for things that back in 1930 somebody thought was OK, it doesn't always mean that it is today," he said.

Harrington said the PUC is taking a long-term approach, since it doesn't have the money handy for remediation that's likely to take several years.

Unfortunately, he said, the gun club also may not have pockets deep enough to help defray the cost of the clean-up.

"We will have to work out with the gun club what they are willing to do, or are able to do," he said, adding that it was very possible the club would have to move if it cannot come to terms with the city.

Water regulators have yet to order a clean-up. In fact, the contamination doesn't pose an immediate threat to public health, Harrington said.

"It is serious enough that no one should live with it. It is not so serious that people can't walk on it, but you would never have recreational activities on it."

For that reason, Harrington said, the contaminated soil will have to be removed eventually.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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