Wilton police headquarters full of lead

Years of firing weapons in the police department’s basement has lead to unsafe levels of lead throughout many areas of the building, OSHA told Wilton Police Chief Michael Lombardo in November 2013.

Now, in order to properly clean up the building, the department is facing an “extraordinary” bill that could run more than $10,000 when all is said and done, the chief says.

Though bullets used by the department are considered “lead-free,” each bullet’s firing pin still contains a very small percentage of lead, Mr. Lombardo said.

It’s not just the range that needs cleaning, even upstairs offices are contaminated.

“In November, Connecticut OSHA made a visit to the range after it received an anonymous complaint,” Chief Lombardo said at Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting. “They found lead in the range, the office [adjacent to the range], and in the emergency operation command area.

“They also found the upstairs administration areas have lead in them.”

The range and downstairs office have been closed since OSHA’s first visit, and all officers have completed lead safety training, the police chief said. Officers practice shooting at the Wooster Mountain range in Danbury.

However, the department is now required to take proactive steps in addressing excess levels of lead, which can cause a range of medical issues, from seizures to miscarriages to hypertension depending on the levels of exposure.

Of three proposals submitted for the job of cleaning the department and inspecting its current lead control systems, the lowest bid was from Hygenix of Stamford.

The company, which comes recommended by the New Canaan Police Department, will conduct the initial cleaning and review of systems for $6,850.

After this initial inspection, the company will put together a more in-depth cleaning plan, and will give a recommendation on the replacement of the department’s current HVAC system.

According to the police chief, after the initial $6,850 comes the “real cost.”

An additional cleaning may cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000, while an HVAC replacement may cost “several thousand dollars, or it could be much more.”

All five selectmen agreed the clean-up plan was necessary, and hoped the police budget would have enough funds to cover it. Contingencies exist, however, if the police budget cannot handle the stress.

“We’re going to try and cover this from the police budget up to a certain point,” First Selectman Bill Brennan said, “but we don’t have a lot of room for extraordinary events.”