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EPA delays release of key environmental report for proposed machine gun range

Machine Gun Range Soldier.JPG
Eve Zuckoff
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A guardsman waits to fire on the Sierra Range at Camp Edwards. It is a 300 meter automated rifle qualification range where soldiers are tested on rifle marksmanship.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it's delaying the release of a key report about the impacts of a proposed machine gun range on Joint Base Cape Cod.

A spokesperson for the federal agency said the report, called a “Sole Source Aquifer Review,” was expected to be released this spring, but the EPA now anticipates it will release a draft by the end of the calendar year.

Since August, the EPA has been investigating whether the proposed range could contaminate the drinking water that runs beneath the base. That water supplies all Upper Cape towns. 

An EPA spokesperson said the agency has been reviewing technical documents including groundwater investigations and management plans, but attributes the delay to needing additional documents that have been, "under development" by the Massachusetts Army National Guard, who want the range built. 

“EPA is expecting more information from the Army National Guard in the coming weeks and possibly months,” wrote EPA spokesperson Emily Bender in an email.  

Asked whether the Guard had failed to produce sufficient documentation in earlier environmental reports, a Guard spokesperson said, "All responses to U.S. EPA [Sole Source Aquifer] review questions were consolidated from existing and publicly available information for ease of review.”

“No new documents have been developed as part of the U.S. EPA Sole Source Aquifer review,” Don Veitch, Guard public affairs officer, wrote in an email.

After the report is released with an evaluation about whether the range could create a significant public health hazard, the EPA will hold a 30-day comment period and public hearing.

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.