The FBI raided Bozeman based USA Brass Thursday morning. We were tipped off by a viewer who told us federal agents were on scene by 9a.m. Throughout the morning we saw agents from the FBI, EPA Criminal Division, and Bozeman Police come and go from the Bozeman business.
Around 12:30 p.m. Agent Bert Marsden identified himself as the resident agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Division in Montana. He told NBC Montana agents were expected on scene through the evening, and gave a short statement about the investigation.
“We are investigating alleged violations of environmental law. An investigation takes as long as it takes, and I can’t provide any details as it relates to that,” said Marsden.
USA Brass cleans and resells used ammunition casings. Last fall the Gallatin City-County Health Department reported 22 people, all current or former USA Brass employees showed elevated levels of lead in their blood. In September of 2013 the US Department of Labor cited USA Brass with 10 serious violations and proposed more than $45,000 in penalties and fines.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, workers found the company overexposed workers to lead and failed to provide basic safeguards to reduce lead exposure, including breathing protection and protective clothing.
Keep in mind, folks, that those of you who reload may also be exposing yourself to elevated lead levels if you don’t take basic safety precautions. USA Brass does not load ammunition, and the 22 current and former employees who tested with elevated levels of lead in their bloodstream were likely exposed by handling one-fired brass, or breathing airborne lead dust that wasn’t properly contained as the one-fired brass is cleaned.
Be safe out there.