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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

NAVAL STATION TREASURE ISLAND
HUNTERS POINT ANNEX
SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA



CONCLUSIONS

ATSDR health assessors concluded that exposures at two areas of Hunters Point Annex (HPA), IR-1/21 (Industrial Landfill) and IR-2 (Bay Fill Area), in Parcel E posed a public health hazard because landfill operators, Navy personnel and their children, Triple A workers, base tenants, and trespassers were exposed to PCBs, PAHs, and lead that may result in adverse health effects. These exposures are not ongoing. However, ATSDR health assessors have determined that the remainder of HPA sites are indeterminate public health hazards.

PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARDS

  1. When the landfill was operational, landfill operators, Triple A workers, Navy personnel and their children, tenants, and trespassers were exposed to metals, PCBs, PAHs, and radium-226 from contaminated soils. Exposures to lead, PCBs, and PAHs were of public health concern. Those individuals may have breathed enough dust while moving earth, walking through the landfill areas, or playing along the shoreline to increase their risk of developing cancer. The increased risk for landfill operators, whose exposure was greatest, is 1 excess cancer case above the normal background incidence for every 10 exposed people over a lifetime. ATSDR health assessors predicted that noncancer adverse health effects may occur in those populations as well.

    Exposure to radium-226 posed no apparent health risk. Landfill operators and on-site military, civilian, and tenant populations have also been exposed to Ra-226 at IR-1/21, IR-2, IR-7, IR-14, and IR-15 by way of incidental ingestion, dermal contact, and irradiation. All past and present radiation exposures are not of public health concern. The proposed EPA/Navy remediation should prevent any future exposures.

INDETERMINATE PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARDS

  1. Waters and sediments surrounding HPA have been contaminated by past disposal practices. Limited sampling of sediment indicated that the landfill areas and associated shoreline are more contaminated than many of the other HPA areas, and some areas appear to be toxic to test organisms. The Navy's Environmental Sampling and Analysis Plan, however, provided limited information on the type and extent of contamination present in sediments, storm drain sediments, and bay water and the effects those media have on test organisms.

    Subsistence, commercial, and sport fishing take place near and off the HPA shore. People who eat fish and shellfish may be exposed to contaminants in fish. People considered at special risk are Asians (about 14% of the population of the Hunters Point/Bayview area), whose fish and shellfish ingestion rates are greater (60-138 grams/day) and more frequent (more than once a day) than the general population. Available information also shows that the potential exposures may be quite varied, ranging from occasional to long term depending on the population's fishing practices and fish-consumption rates.

  2. Explosion hazards exist for drillers installing monitoring wells and boring soil because methane gas emanates from sites at IR-1/21, IR-3, IR-12, IR-7, and IR-18. In addition, the vertical and horizontal extent of the methane pocket at IR-18 has not been defined and may be migrating off site, and people using buildings along the base boundary now or in the future may be in danger from methane buildup.

  3. Land use issues are of concern to ATSDR from an exposure standpoint; HPA site characterization is incomplete. ATSDR health assessors can not determine whether areas are safe. Additionally, many areas to be turned over to nondefense entities are near contaminated areas; contaminants that may impact people could be released during remediation. The portions of the base and the dates on which the areas will be turned over to the city are being negotiated by representatives of the city and the Navy. The first parcel to be turned over to the city, Parcel A, is scheduled for release in 1994. Excavation and construction at unremediated areas on base could expose subsurface contaminants, changing the public health impact on base tenants, construction workers, and area residents.

  4. Many base buildings are leased by small businesses, and some of those buildings interiors are being investigated for contamination. If the buildings are contaminated from past use, the tenants in those buildings may be exposed to contaminants. In addition, contaminants at levels of health concern have been detected in surface soil outside some of the leased buildings. Navy contractors are planning additional sampling at those sites.

  5. Children playing near the off-site railroad right-of-way may be chronically exposed to metals at levels of health concern in the surface soil.

  6. Although limited on-base ambient air sampling data are available, the preliminary data indicate concentrations of pesticides (aldrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, endrin, and DDT) at levels of health concern. The available data represent an initial screening based on a one-time sampling event. ATSDR can not determine whether those samples represent daily ambient conditions. Base personnel, on-site tenants, remediation workers, and construction workers may have inhaled ambient air contaminated with pesticides, and they and future HPA residents could inhale contaminated air in the future. On-site tenants and base personnel may be exposed during activities such as walking or jogging around the base and eating lunch or smoking outdoors. In addition, high levels of lead and other metals have been detected in surface soils. Contaminated dust and airborne soil particles may also pose a health threat.

  7. Construction workers and people who lease buildings and land on HPA may be affected by physical hazards observed at the Drum Storage and Disposal Yard and outside the Power Plant. The crumbling seawalls could also present a hazard to future HPA occupants using the areas near the seawall.

  8. Groundwater at IR-10, the Battery and Electroplating Shop, and at IR-6, Tank Farm, is contaminated with chlorinated solvents. The plume of contamination has not moved off site. The area well survey that the Navy investigators conducted is incomplete. Off-site wells have been identified within 2 miles of HPA. Uses of some of those wells within 2 miles of HPA are unknown. Community members have indicated that irrigation wells are currently being used by Hunters Point/Bayview residents. In addition, there is industrial usage of groundwater in the Hunters Point/Bayview area. Regional groundwater flow is toward San Francisco Bay; the base is downgradient of the Hunters Point/Bayview area. Therefore, it is unlikely that the contaminated groundwater would ever reach the private wells.

  9. Community concerns about air quality, increases in morbidity and mortality rates, potential exposures to contaminants in groundwater, and cleanup of HPA property for future industrial and residential use are presented and discussed in the Public Health Implications section of this public health assessment. Responding to health concerns of the community, ATSDR health assessors concluded that air quality is generally good in the Hunters Point/Bayview area and should not be the cause of respiratory complaints. There is contamination in the shallow aquifer, but it is highly unlikely that the groundwater plume will ever reach private wells. As far as ATSDR health assessors can determine, the morbidity or mortality rates in San Francisco or the Hunters Point/Bayview area are not higher than those in other areas of California. ATSDR is concerned about land use and how it may impact present and future land users. If unremediated, certain HPA areas, such as IR-1/21 and IR-2 in Parcel E, are potentially hazardous to human health and may not be suitable for residential use. Navy contractors are in the early stages of remediation, and some of the data are limited or unavailable.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Determine what edible fish and shellfish are caught at or near HPA. Sample and analyze those species for contaminants listed in Tables 3 and 4. Coordinate with state agencies that are planning (if funding is available) to characterize the aquatic contamination: determine fish-consumption patterns of persons who fish for subsistence or recreation in San Francisco Bay and the demographics (e.g., race, age, and sex) of those persons; determine whether fin fish in the Southern Basin, just south of HPA and north of Candlestick Park, are contaminated; and conduct biological monitoring on people who consumed contaminated fish at or near HPA. The Public Health Action Plan contains a list of state agencies that are involved in those activities.

  2. Use a more sensitive organism (e.g., Macoma species) to conduct more definitive bioaccumulation tests in sediments.

  3. ATSDR health assessors will review available radiological and organic mussel tissue data and mussel tissue control data when the data are provided by the representatives of the Navy.

  4. Conduct further sediment sampling on shore and near shore to determine whether contaminants (e.g., PCBs, metals, and pesticides) have migrated and, if so, the extent of the migration. Conduct sediment sampling in areas where people may fish now or may fish in the future.

  5. Determine the magnitude and extent of the IR-1/21, IR-12, and IR-18 methane pockets and determine whether methane gas is migrating off site. Initiate a methane venting or monitoring program. Areas should be posted to ensure that utility workers do not drill in hazardous areas.

  6. Review existing building construction drawings and indicate which structures have crawl spaces, basements, sub-slab ducts, or other feature that may allow gas to migrate into and collect inside structures or that may be impacted by methane or other landfill gases from IR-1/21 or IR-18. Determine whether gases have migrated into utility spaces and whether those gases are routinely monitored during utility work.

  7. Continue to survey for the presence of radiological hazards all buildings and surrounding areas that were used in the past by the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL).

  8. Continue to inform the base tenants of the potential hazards that exist on HPA during site investigations, site characterization, and site remediation. During site remediation and construction use appropriate control measures to prevent tenants, workers, and future land users from being exposed to site contaminants. Continue to reduce the number of physical hazards that exist on base.

  9. Survey all leased buildings for radioactive artifacts potentially scavenged from the landfill. Those artifacts, if found, should be disposed of in accordance with accepted state and federal procedures.

  10. Evaluate the need for indoor air sampling and wipe samples at PA areas currently leased to base tenants, where contamination from past HPA activities is likely.

  11. Conduct a thorough ambient air sampling study to identify potential sources of chemicals migrating from IR areas. Identify the source of the airborne pesticides.

  12. Continue to evaluate land use and reuse issues with respect to potential for exposure to contaminants and inform ATSDR of any final decisions the city of San Francisco and others make concerning land use. Maintain the base fence line, especially near the former housing area and the landfill areas, to deter unauthorized entry to HPA. Inform ATSDR of any interim uses of HPA.

  13. Consider restricting future use of some HPA areas. If unremediated, certain HPA areas such as IR-1/21 and IR-2 in Parcel E, are potentially hazardous to human health and may not be suitable for residential use of HPA.

  14. Consider issuing site-wide deed restrictions when appropriate to ensure that property presently targeted for commercial use is not used for residential proposes in the future, because soil cleanup levels may not meet residential use standards.

  15. Characterize the extent of contamination in the bedrock aquifer under Parcel A. If conditions change and indicate that contaminated groundwater is moving toward the community, conduct a thorough well survey of the Hunters Point/Bayview Area. If contaminated wells are in use for crop irrigation, take appropriate measures to prevent exposure.

  16. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, requires ATSDR to perform needed public health actions at hazardous waste sites. To determine whether public health actions are needed, ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has evaluated the data and information developed in the Hunters Point Annex Public Health Assessment. Available information indicates that landfill operators were exposed to metals, PAHs, PCBs, and radium-226 in the surface soil at the landfill. Exposures to metals, PAHs, and PCBs were at levels of public health concern. Since HPA is inactive, all personnel records from the period when the shipyard was active have been archived and, according to Navy representatives, can not be retrieved. Therefore, it is unlikely that the landfill operators can be identified, and no public health actions are planned as a result of their exposure.

    In addition, HARP concluded that further toxicity tests and tissue analyses should be conducted in sediments, fish, and shellfish to determine whether contaminant levels are above FDA or EPA levels. HARP has determined that if contaminant levels of concern are detected in fish and shellfish, people who eat fish caught at or near Hunters Point Annex should receive community health education explaining the health implications of possible exposures to contaminants bioaccumulated by fish and shellfish. Moreover, if other environmental data indicating that people are being exposed to hazardous substances become available, ATSDR representatives will reevaluate the need for additional follow-up public health actions.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN (PHAP)

The public health action plan (PHAP) for the Hunters Point Annex site contains a description of actions to be taken at and in the vicinity of the site subsequent to the completion of this public health assessment. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards but also provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included is a commitment on the part of ATSDR to follow up on this plan. The public health actions to be implemented are as follows:

Actions Completed:

  1. Western Division Naval Facilities Engineering Command representatives have researched archived Nuclear Regulatory Commission records to verify documentation of previously released buildings on HPA for unrestricted use.

Actions Planned:

  1. At ATSDR's request, representatives of the Western Division Naval Facilities Engineering Command and the Naval Station Treasure Island will be posting signs along the Parcel E and IR-7 boundaries warning of multiple environmental hazards and warning against collecting and eating fish or shellfish from the area.

  2. Representatives of the California EPA, the RWCQB, the CDHS, and community groups are participating in an Education and Outreach Task Force On Fish Consumption and Fish Contamination Issues. The goal of the task force is to educate its constituencies concerning existing health advisories, focusing its efforts on those populations not reached by traditional means (i.e., the non-English speaking population and municipal pier fishers who do not need fishing licenses and hence may not be aware of the health advisories published in the Department of Fish and Game regulations book). The main job of the task force has undertaken is to post existing health advisories (in various languages in addition to English) at municipal piers. Although the task force is piloting activities around the San Francisco Bay area, its focus is statewide. After posting, the task force is considering other activities, including development of such written materials as pamphlets.

  3. The RWCQB initiated a pilot study of San Francisco Bay to determine whether fin fish are contaminated. The Southern Basin, just south of HPA and north of Candlestick Park, was one of the study areas. Fin fish were collected in the spring of 1994, and the fillets are being analyzed. Results should be available later in 1994. Organs of these fish will be stored if further analysis is warranted.

  4. The CDHS will request resources from ATSDR to gather information about populations that consume fish caught at or near the HPA area and about the populations' fish-consumption patterns.

  5. After information about the fishing population is obtained and a review of fish data is conducted, CDHS representatives will consider whether biological monitoring of people eating fish at two sites, one of which is the Hunters Point/Bayview area, is warranted.

  6. ATSDR will evaluate any new fish or sediment sampling data for public health implications when the data become available and will determine whether follow-up activities are indicated.

  7. ATSDR will review Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) issues pertaining to public health at HPA, as requested.

  8. Navy representatives will continue to conduct removal actions to reduce the number of physical hazards on the base.

  9. ATSDR representatives will review radiation remediation workplans, as requested, to ensure that base tenants and the public will not be adversely impacted by any planned remediation.

  10. Representatives of the Western Division Naval Facilities Engineering Command will continue to supply copies of the Environmental Cleanup News base tenants who want them.

  11. ATSDR representatives have requested cancer and birth defects registry information from the CDHS, but the information has not yet been provided. When it become available from the CDHS, ATSDR representatives will evaluate the cancer and birth defect registry information to answer and provide more information on community health concerns about cancer and birth defects.

ATSDR representatives will reevaluate and expand the PHAP when needed. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data or the results of implementing the above proposed actions may determine the need for additional actions at Hunters Point Annex.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

    Joan Davis, M.S.
    Environmental Health Scientist
    Navy/Air Force Section
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

    Michael Grayson, M.S.
    Health Physicist
    Energy Facilities Assessment Section
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

    Leticia Arredondo, M.D., M.P.H.
    Medical Officer
    Navy/Air Force Section
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

    Carole Diamond Hossom
    Environmental Health Scientist
    Navy/Air Force Section
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

Reviewers of Report:
    Diane Jackson
    Chief, Navy/Air Force Section
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

    John E. Abraham Ph.D., M.P.H.
    Exposure Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

    Susan McAfee Moore
    Environmental Health Scientist/Toxicologist
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

    Paul Charp Ph.D.
    Energy Facilities Assessment Section
    Federal Facilities Assessment Branch
    Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

ATSDR Regional Representative:
    William Q. Nelson
    Public Health Advisor
    EPA Region IX

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