Bullets removed from the U-shaped berm ranged in size from ¼ inch to 2 inches. Larimer County didn't allow trap or skeet shooting, so lead shot or clay target fragments were not a cleanup issue.

The next step was to find out how many bullets were in the berm and where most of them were. At 20 feet high, 100 yards long, and about 40 yards deep, finding the bullets in a landfill was not quite as hard as finding a needle in a haystack, but the task was still difficult.

WRS sifted 0 to 18 inches below the ground's surface to determine where the marksmen had shot the most, and then screening began. The whole berm structure was screened through a mill, which removed bullets and bullet-like materials.

Over the course of two months in late 2005, the company pulled out of the pile bullets and rocks from ½ inch to 2 inches in size. Because of the ratio of rocks to bullets, it was too expensive to recycle. The rock-bullet stockpile of about 500 cu. yds. was instead shipped to an offsite lined landfill.

Finally, to ensure that any bullets that had been missed or whose lead had been activated by liquid or acid were rendered inert, triple-super phosphate was spread over the site. The phosphate is typically used as a fertilizer for agricultural purposes, but in this case, its basic properties would help neutralize any acids that might activate the lead.

Terracon used the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council's guidance documents to ensure that they were meeting all of the standards set for the cleanup, and to help streamline the process.

In all, the project was a success. The landfill is surrounded by high-end homes; Gillette is proud to say that they were “good neighbors” by doing the cleanup.

Setting the standard

Why cities and counties can't just dump and run.

Landfills are regulated by the U.S. EPA's Office of Solid Waste, and must meet strict standards:

  • Location restrictions ensure that landfills are built in suitable geological areas away from faults, wetlands, flood plains, or other restricted areas.
  • Liners are geomembrane or plastic sheets reinforced with 2 feet of clay on the bottom and sides of landfills.
  • Operating practices such as compacting and covering waste frequently with several inches of soil help reduce odor; control litter, insects, and rodents; and protect public health.
  • Closure and post-closure care include covering landfills and providing long-term care of closed landfills.
  • Groundwater monitoring requires the testing of groundwater wells to determine whether waste materials have escaped from the landfill.
  • Corrective action controls and cleans up landfill releases and achieves groundwater protection standards.
  • Financial assurance provides funding for environmental protection during and after landfill closure (i.e., closure and postclosure care).