File photos of a Gympie shooter competing at an event last year.
File photos of a Gympie shooter competing at an event last year. Philippe Coquerand

'CEO must act - give Gympie gun clubs 60 days to vacate'

Letter to the Editor

IN THE Gympie Times (August 18, 2018) Ron Owen, former councillor and gun shop owner, said metallic lead would not dissolve in water and quoted from an internet reference without understanding he was quoting from a pure chemistry reference dealing with how metallic lead reacts in covered distilled laboratory water ph 7 and total dissolved salts zero.

One year later in The Gympie Times he stops shooting his lead shot into the pure chemistry laboratory, and shoots lead shot into Gympie's "acid " rains, declaring that it would take a long time to dissolve shotgun lead in acid rain.

Bernard Smith returns from the Ironman World Championship, Kona, Hawii.Photo Patrick Woods / Gympie Times
Bernard Smith, Gympie Council CEO. Patrick Woods

Acid rain around Gympie is most likely weak carbonic acid which for complex reasons won't eat lead. The truth is that it is the soil moisture which lead shot sits upon and within that slowly but significantly dissolves lead via soil acidity from hydrochloric and nitric acids.

Gympie eucalypt forest soils receiving shotgun lead would be expected to have a ph value of 5.5 to ph 5 .In my view Gympie's rainfall at 1100 mm per year provides too many hydrogen ions to soils and leaching of alkaline salts, to allow any shotgun range in Gympie Shire with one notable exception. Gympie shire has several closed tips of contaminated waste that could be subject to EIS scrutiny for a shotgun range.

Arid lands that have little rain and little vegetation have few nitrates and hydrogen ions so soils are likely to be ph 7 or more. Council could provide a bus for shooters to head west, link up with farmers to shoot vermin for a win win good news story, or they could use cartridges with 400 pieces of tungsten/tin or similar to replace lead,or develop hard stand concrete to recover lead shot.

The top priority is closing down the existing gun clubs today and cleaning up the lead poison tomorrow, and if there is any money or appetite left in the kitty then discuss via cost benefit and EIS statements where gun clubs could go.

Ron Owen and gun club members have shown no sense of community spirit in cleaning up their 600 million pieces of lead poison pollution on shotgun range.

Instead Ron Owen ridiculously believes he doesn't have to pick up lead shot because he is just returning the lead back to the ground from where it came.

But that is another false statement because whilst lead does come from ground it did not come from Gympie gun club soil.

Gun clubs concentrate lead over a very small area and that is what causes the damage to the environment, koalas, bird life, wild life all animal life.

Koalas absorb the extra lead through their skin when walking over it, they ingest extra lead when licking their fury arms for cooling purposes, they drink extra lead from water pools, and most likely ingest extra lead via phyto remediation principles where the concentrated lead can move from roots to shoots to leaves to koalas. And birds when picking up grit for their normal dietary requirements will mistakenly pick up one of 600 million pieces of lead shot and die.

Eventually lead dust or in solution will sicken or kill all animal life.

On the shotgun range the lead has been there for 26 years to be slowly broken down by acidic soil and leached downwards with 1100mm rainfall per year providing an excess of hydrogen ions for faster breakdown.

Ron Owen - It should of always been legal to hunt in state forest its the only way to get rid of all the pests
Ron Owen Troy Jegers

San Francisco Council which receives 600mm rainfall per year had to dig 1.3m deep over 11 acres costing A$40million dollars.

My view is that to retrieve Gympie shotgun lead you may have to dig deeper than 1.3m over 40 acres plus remove all eucalypts.

Then replace with non contaminated soil,replant more eucalypts,then treat a mountain of lead contaminated soil off site.

My cost estimate $100 million which probably makes council insolvent, hence the reason they don't want to acknowledge the problem. But the shotgun lead shot pollution must stop now.

Every shotgun cartridge fired is another 400 plus lead shot that has to be recovered.

The Gympie council CEO needs to urgently act in ratepayers, koalas and kids health interests and, without waiting for councillor approval, give gun clubs 60 days notice to vacate and clean up their five stockpiles of lead poison at gun club members' cost.  

Alan Goddard,