North Las Vegas Police have pumped at least 2 million bullets into their firing range over the past 30 years. This month, says the Las Vegas Sun, a Colorado company will remove and recycle most of that spent lead, sifting through the sand for three decades' bullets, shotgun pellets, and rifle rounds. It's 100,000 pounds of metal, the company estimates. It'll take about two weeks to remove, one 55-gallon drum at a time, at a cost of $91,700 to the city.
Not removing it risks “splashback” – rounds that, shot into a range pumped full of bullets, ricochet off lead left behind and send metal fragments back at the shooter. The more bullets you shoot, the more likely the splashback. The Environmental Protection Agency has a best practices manual for lead management at gun ranges; guidelines that advocate collecting and recycling lead. The concern is that lead, which can be toxic, could leach into ground water or inadvertently be eaten by birds.