PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE
ALBANY, DOUGHERTY COUNTY, GEORGIA
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has prepared this updated public health assessment to evaluate the past, current, and future potential for contaminants from the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB), Albany, Georgia to cause harm to persons living near or accessing the site. ATSDR released a public health assessment for the MCLB, Albany, on March 30, 1993. At that time, the limited available data did not indicate that people were being or had been exposed to levels of contamination that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. However, ATSDR classified the multiple potential sources of contamination (PSCs) with contaminated soil and groundwater at MCLB, Albany, as indeterminate public health hazards. This category is used to designate sites for which there is incomplete information. Since the release of the 1993 public health assessment, additional environmental data have been collected and reviewed by ATSDR. This updated public health assessment reexamines potential public health hazards associated with groundwater and soil contamination at MCLB, Albany.
MCLB, Albany, is a military logistics center located on 3,600 acres in Dougherty County, approximately 5 miles southeast of Albany, Georgia. Since the 1950s, MCLB, Albany, has controlled the acquisition, storage, maintenance, and distribution of combat and support materiel for the Marine Corps. The facility has generated hazardous wastes through various activities including electroplating, cleaning, stripping, wood preserving, and painting operations. MCLB, Albany also operates an industrial wastewater treatment plant which, in the past, has resulted in soil and groundwater contamination from wastewater and sludge producing processes. Because contaminated soil and groundwater were detected on base, MCLB, Albany, was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List in December 1989. At the base, 26 PSCs have been identified and investigated.
ATSDR reviewed on-base groundwater monitoring data, information for the three on-base drinking water supply wells, and results of off-base private well sampling. ATSDR also reviewed on-base soil sampling and limited surface water and fish sampling data.
Numerous areas on the base are impacted by groundwater contaminants in the Ocala Limestone of the Upper Floridan aquifer. Groundwater beneath the base has been contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and to a lesser extent with metals at concentrations exceeding ATSDR's health-based comparison values (CVs). VOCs frequently detected in base-wide groundwater include 1,2-dichloroethene (total), tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and cis-1,2-dichloroethylene. Metals that were frequently detected in base-wide groundwater include chromium, lead, and manganese. The largest areas of groundwater contamination (plumes) are beneath the Depot Maintenance Activity and the Long Term Landfill (Northern Plume) areas.
According to data supplied to ATSDR by MCLB Albany contractors, the three on-base drinking water wells are primarily screened in the deeper aquifers which are not impacted by groundwater contamination in the Upper Floridan aquifer. They are tested annually and continue to meet state and federal drinking water standards. For these reasons, ATSDR concludes that drinking water from the three on-base drinking water supply wells does not pose a past or current public health hazard to MCLB, Albany, workers and residents. ATSDR has categorized this exposure pathway as a no apparent public health hazard. Further monitoring of the supply wells is recommended to ensure that well water continues to meet drinking water standards.
The Long Term Landfill (Northern Plume) area is near the Ramsey Road neighborhood. According to data supplied by MCLB, Albany, low levels of VOCs and lead at or exceeding ATSDR's CVs have been detected in a few private wells north of the base, in the Ramsey Road neighborhood. However, the levels that have been detected since samples have been collected in 1993 do not pose a health hazard. MCLB, Albany, has provided municipal water connections to all residences in the Ramsey Road area that used private wells for their drinking water. All but two residences in the neighborhood have opted to use the municipal drinking water. Due to the potential for additional off-base migration of groundwater contaminants and as a precautionary measure, ATSDR recommends that the two remaining Ramsey Road residents connect to municipal water. Based on the low levels of contamination and the provision of municipal water, ATSDR concludes that groundwater poses no public health hazards in the Ramsey Road neighborhood. ATSDR has designated this exposure pathway as a no apparent public health hazard. The no apparent public health hazard category is used for sites where exposure to site-related chemicals may have occurred in the past or is still occurring but the exposures are not at levels expected to cause adverse health effects.
Sampling by the US Environmental Protection Agency detected low levels of pesticides in some of the private wells located north of MCLB, Albany. The pesticide levels are well below the EPA maximum contaminant levels for drinking water and below levels at which adverse health effects occur. Pesticide use was common in many agricultural areas around MCLB, Albany. Pesticides were detected in private wells located on Parr Road, Sylvester Road, and on Branch Road. These private wells are more than one mile from MCLB, Albany property. The sources of pesticides in these private wells have not been identified.
Residents in the Fleming Road area, southwest of the base, have private wells that draw groundwater from the Upper Floridan Aquifer. One private well in this area was tested in 1997 and did not show contamination. Sampling of seven residential wells in September 2000 indicated TCE contamination of two wells at levels below EPAs MCLs. ATSDR has categorized the Fleming Road neighborhood as an indeterminate public health hazard because additional private well water results are needed. If chemical concentrations in private well water samples are found to exceed MCLs, ATSDR recommends that Fleming Road residents, southwest of the base, be connected to the city water supply.
Additional monitoring, continued remediation, and further delineation of the groundwater contamination at MCLB, Albany, is needed to ensure that people are not exposed in the future. ATSDR recommends that MCLB, Albany, delineate the extent of groundwater contamination for these plumes as soon as possible and take the necessary remedial measures to ensure that contaminants do not impact any drinking water wells on or near the base.
ATSDR also evaluated the extent of soil contamination for all PSCs at MCLB, Albany. Remedial measures, such as soil removal, interim controls, and access restrictions have been instituted where contaminants were found to exceed state and federal maximum contaminant guidelines for soil. As a result of these measures, ATSDR concludes that exposure to soil contaminants at MCLB, Albany, does not pose a past, current, or future public health hazard. However, close monitoring is recommended to ensure that the interim controls are in place and land use restrictions are followed.
Only limited data are available to evaluate surface water and food chain exposure pathways. However, based on groundwater flow direction, the proximity of contaminated source areas to surface water bodies, and the limited sampling data that ATSDR has reviewed, it is unlikely that soil contaminants have migrated to surface water bodies where people swim or fish. Additionally, the sampling of freshwater fish from Indian Lake did not contain levels of site-related contaminants that would pose a public health concern. Therefore, ATSDR believes that surface water and food chain exposure pathways do not pose past, current, or future public health hazards. ATSDR has categorized these exposure pathways as no apparent public health hazards.
To address community concerns regarding cancer and other health outcomes, ATSDR evaluated cancer mortality and selected vital statistics data for Dougherty and Worth Counties, Georgia. The results of this evaluation, including a separate summary, are provided in Appendix E.
Our public health activities at this site have included our participation on the Albany Community Alliance, provision of health education for community members and health care providers, and public meetings for community members. ATSDR also established a reference section on environmental health topics for the community and health care providers at two different libraries in Albany, Georgia. ATSDR trained health care providers in environmental health/medicine who will in turn provide training to other health care providers in the Albany area.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is continuing to evaluate potential exposures to environmental contaminants in soil, sediment, and groundwater at the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany, Georgia. ATSDR completed a public health assessment (PHA) in March 1993 based on contamination detected in soil and groundwater. At that time, sources of environmental contamination at the base had not been fully characterized, and ATSDR classified MCLB, Albany, as an indeterminate public health hazard. Since the original PHA was released, additional information has become available, including records of decision (RODs) for five operable units (OUs)at MCLB, Albany, (ABB 1996, 1997a, 1997b, 1997c, 1999) and a remedial investigation and baseline risk assessment (RI/BRA) of groundwater contamination across the base (HLA 1999). This update to our March 1993 PHA addresses base-wide groundwater contamination, off-base contamination of drinking water, potential surface water and food chain contamination, and also further evaluates potential exposure pathways to soil.
MCLB, Albany, is an active base covering approximately 3,600 acres in Dougherty County, about 5 miles southeast of Albany, Georgia (Figures 1 and 2). The base is bordered to the north by the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad and North Shaw Road, to the south by Fleming Road, and to the west by State Highway 257 (Mock Road) and West Shaw Road. The Worth County line was the original eastern boundary of the base, but, in 1980, the land from 600 feet east of gate 45 to the Worth County line was given to the city of Albany (Figure 3) (ATSDR 1993).
The base was built in the early 1950s as a supply distribution center for other Marine Corps facilities on the east coast. MCLB, Albany is a self contained military installation with infrastructure that supports all the necessary daily living requirements for military personnel such as residential housing, a wastewater treatment facility, commissary, and day care facilities. Some key supporting operations occurred at the facility in the Central Repair Division, where vehicles, radar, and other equipment were repaired, and in the Facilities and Services Division, where general repair and maintenance of MCLB property were performed. Specific activities associated with these operations, including electroplating, cleaning, stripping, and painting operations, generated hazardous waste and possibly led to accidental releases of chemicals to surrounding soil and groundwater (ATSDR 1993). Also, untreated liquid industrial waste was discharged to drainage ditches that flow off base and into the Flint River (Envirodyne, Inc. 1985).
Through the Department of Defense's installation restoration program, the Navy began conducting environmental investigations at MCLB, Albany, in 1985. During the course of the early investigations, it became apparent that volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and metals had contaminated soil on the base and VOCs had contaminated the underlying groundwater. As a result of finding groundwater contamination beneath the sludge piles at potential source of contamination (PSC) 12 (Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant [IWTP] sludge drying beds), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed MCLB, Albany, on the National Priorities List of hazardous waste sites in December 1989 (ATSDR 1993).
In response to detecting contamination at MCLB, Albany, the Navy conducted additional environmental investigations and identified 26 solid waste management units, which are referred to as potential sources of contamination (PSCs), on base property from past waste storage, handling, or disposal practices (Figure 3). Fourteen of the 26 PSCs are grouped into five OUs because of geographic proximity, similarity of contaminant types and contaminated media, or similarity in potential remedial actions: OU 1 contains PSC 1 (East Disposal Area), PSC 2 (Rubble Disposal Area), PSC 3 (Long-Term Landfill), and PSC 26 (Containment Berm Area); OU 2 contains PSC 11 (Area behind the Small Bore and Pistol Range); OU 3 contains PSC 16 (Building 7100 PCB area) and PSC 17 (Depot Maintenance Activity [DMA] Chrome Area); OU 4 contains PSC 6 (Industrial Discharge Drainage Ditch), PSC 10 (Central Repair Division and DMA), PSC 12 (IWTP Area), PSC 13 (Industrial Wastewater Pipeline), and PSC 22 (DMA Storage Area); OU 5 contains PSC 8 (Grit Disposal Area) and PSC 14 (Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant [DWTP]). Base-wide groundwater contamination is being addressed as OU 6. The remaining PSCs have either undergone site screening (i.e., initial confirmation and characterization sampling) to determine whether further investigation is necessary (EPA 1990) or have been investigated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action process. The locations of the 26 PSCs are shown in Figure 3.
In July 1991, the Navy, representing MCLB, Albany, entered into a Federal Facilities Agreement with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and EPA Region IV to establish a schedule for developing, implementing, and monitoring appropriate response actions at the site (HLA 1999). Since 1992, five RODs have been finalized that specifically address soil, surface water, and sediment at OUs 1 through 5. A ROD has not yet been issued for OU6 (base-wide groundwater). In addition, two Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) removals have been completed, a groundwater removal action for contamination coming from OU4 and removal of sludge piles from OU1. Actions taken under RCRA include excavation and removal of sludge drying beds at the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant (IWTP) and the Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant (DWTP), installation of a pump and treat system to address groundwater contamination beneath the IWTP drying beds, and excavation and removal of contaminated soil at Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs) 24, 18, and 9 (MCLB 1999). PSC 9 was addressed as a SWMU. There were three removal actions for contaminated soil at PSC 9: August 1997, November 1997, and October 1998 (MCLB 2001). More detailed descriptions of each of the 26 PSCs and their corresponding OUs are included in Table 1.
Initially, characterization of the groundwater at MCLB, Albany, was conducted on an individual PSC or OU basis. However, MCLB, Albany, recommended that the investigation of groundwater at a base-wide level would be more technically appropriate and would expedite other ongoing investigations at MCLB, Albany (HLA 1999). In March 1996, this recommendation was agreed on, and a sixth OU was added to evaluate the extent of groundwater contamination at the base. Groundwater monitoring data have been collected and summarized as part of the OU 6 RI/BRA.
As part of the PHA process, ATSDR conducted an initial site visit and met with representatives from MCLB, Albany, in January 1991, and revisited the site in December 1991. During these visits, ATSDR gathered information from site representatives on potential pathways of human exposure to contaminants at MCLB, Albany. ATSDR also obtained information from staff members at Albany's Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Division and the city of Albany Water, Gas, and Light Commission.
After reviewing the data available at the time, ATSDR prepared and released a PHA in 1993. In the document, ATSDR concluded that no completed exposure pathways existed at MCLB, Albany, based on limited environmental data. ATSDR also concluded that sufficient data were not available to fully evaluate potential exposure pathways.
Since 1993, additional data have become available through ongoing site investigations conducted by the Navy. As part of its ongoing involvement at MCLB, Albany, ATSDR reviewed the newly released data and revisited the site in March and June 1999. In March 1999, ATSDR attended a Technical Review Committee meeting and a public availability session (PAS) to listen to community health concerns and present an overview of the PHA process. In June 1999, representatives from ATSDR attended an EPA PAS and continued to identify community concerns about the site. During these site visits, ATSDR met with representatives from MCLB, Albany, EPA Region IV, and the Navy.
The Alliance provided a forum for discussion and for answering environmental questions raised by community members. Participants included the community group EAAGLE and other community members, the Dougherty County Health Department, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, EPA, and ATSDR. Topics raised for discussion included environmental issues at the MCLB site, compliance history of local landfills, land use planning, water quality and treatment, the Superfund program, Technical Outreach Services, and more. The agencies involved provided speakers to address concerns.
Besides being a participant in Alliance activities, ATSDR held other community meetings. ATSDR held focus groups meetings for the community in December 2000. These groups were formed to discuss health concerns, contaminants, and health education needs as well as how to improve our communications with the community. As a result of the focus group sessions, ATSDR was invited to be a guest speaker at the Albany Ministerial Alliance held in January 2001. The agency presented our public health findings and activities to area ministers.
Based on community concern that area physicians lacked the tools to recognize symptoms and diagnose health problems that might result from exposure to environmental contaminants, ATSDR in concert with the Dougherty County Health Department and the Southwest Health District implemented a training program for health care providers using a "Train-the-Trainer methodology. Two sessions were conducted in January and June, 2001. This program provided physicians, nurses and public health staff with information regarding environmental medicine, emphasizing taking an exposure history as part of the assessment of patients. ATSDR's Case Studies in Environmental Medicine, explaining the effects of various chemical exposures, were the foundation of the training program for health care providers. ATSDR trained health care providers in environmental health/medicine who will in turn provide training to other health care providers in the Albany area.
ATSDR also established a reference section on environmental health topics for the community and health care providers at two different libraries in Albany, Georgia. ATSDR's Toxicological Profiles on CD-ROM and other materials on environmental exposures and toxic waste management were provided to the Dougherty County public library system and the Phoebe Putnam Memorial Hospital library.
ATSDR examines demographic information, or population information, to identify the presence of sensitive populations, such as young children and the elderly, in the vicinity of a site. Demographic information also provides details on residential history in a particular area which helps ATSDR assess time frames of potential human exposure to contaminants. Demographic information for the site and residential areas surrounding MCLB, Albany, is presented in this section and in Figure 2.
MCLB, Albany, currently employs approximately 2,100 civilian and 600 active-duty military personnel. About 350 military personnel who work on base live with family members in one of the two military housing areas for MCLB, Albany. One of the housing areas, Hill Village, is located on the eastern side of the base and the other, Boyette Village, is located off base near the area known as Turner Field, about 4 miles northwest of MCLB, Albany. The military housing accommodates up to 1,500 residents in 680 available housing units (ATSDR 1993).
About 180 children of school age reside in Hill Village and 125 school age children reside in Boyette Village (A. Palmer, MCLB, Environmental Branch, March 1999). As of May 1999, there were 292 children under 5 years of age living in family housing, including both Hill Village and Boyette Village. Currently, two childcare centers are located on the base for dependent children of military and civilian personnel. One center, located in building 7600 near the center of the base, currently accommodates approximately 85 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years. The other childcare center is approximately 200 yards from building 7600, located on Cash Avenue (building 5584). Current base plans include expanding the childcare facility at building 7600 to accommodate an additional 200 children in order to close the Cash Avenue childcare facility.
MCLB, Albany, is located in Dougherty County, where more than 96,300 individuals reside. Although residential districts surround MCLB, Albany, population density is highest to the north, northwest, and west of the base, and relatively low elsewhere. One of the largest neighboring communities, the city of Albany (78,000 persons), lies just northwest of the site. Based on 1990 census data, demographic statistics within one mile of the site give estimates of a total population of 6225 people including 819 children (Figure 2).
MCLB, Albany, is entirely fenced and access is controlled at three guarded gates. Within the base boundaries, however, access is not generally restricted except at the Central Repair Division DMA, IWTP, and at certain PSCs, where interim control measures have been instituted. Industrial areas, including warehouses, are primarily in the southwestern and northwestern portions of the base. Base housing, playgrounds, and recreational areas, which include a softball field and two athletic fields, are located on the eastern side of the base. Multipurpose athletic fields and two softball fields also are in the center of the base, near Covella Pond. In addition, a 9-hole golf course is on the southeastern side of the base, immediately southwest of base housing. A pecan grove covering approximately 240 acres is on the southwestern corner of MCLB, Albany. The pecan grove is leased for 4 to 5 year terms to private farmers who bid for the option (Captain J. Dodd, MCLB, Public Affairs Division, March 1999). According to MCLB, Albany, officials, the land uses at MCLB are not expected to change in the foreseeable future.
The base has an abundance of game, especially deer, squirrels, foxes, and rabbits (Major A. Ference, MCLB, Environmental Branch, March 1999). A total of 1,422 acres designated for hunting are scattered throughout the base, generally in more wooded and isolated areas. Only military and civilian base personnel and their guests are allowed to hunt on MCLB, Albany, and access to hunting areas is controlled by base natural resources personnel. Several surface water bodies on MCLB, Albany, property are used for fishing by military personnel and their guests (ATSDR 1993). Fishing is permitted at Covella Pond, which is at the center of the base, and at Indian Lake Refuge, a large swampy area located in the northeastern part of the base that provides habitat for alligators, beavers, wood ducks, and wading birds (ATSDR 1993).
Land surrounding MCLB, Albany, is used for a mix of residential, industrial, and recreational purposes. Immediately north of the base (and within 200 yards of PSC 3, a long-term landfill) is the Ramsey Road neighborhood (also known as Block 212). There are approximately 90 private water wells located north of MCLB, Albany, in the Ramsey/Sylvester/Branch Road neighborhoods (Figure 4). Many of these private wells are no longer in use or being used for drinking water since most homes in the Ramsey Road area have been connected to municipal water. Also, about 64 private households are situated south of MCLB, Albany, south of Fleming Road and west of Gaissert Road (also known as Block 104) (ATSDR 1993, HLA 1999).
Light industrial areas abut the site to the west and north. Pecan groves and wetlands are located south, and other agricultural tracts cover areas north, east, and south of MCLB, Albany. Lobarton Farms, a 1,800-acre tract of farm land south of Fleming Road, is irrigated using water from 14 private wells that are several hundred feet deep. Crops raised in the tract include wheat, peanuts, corn, canola, and cotton; they are sold for distribution to both local and interstate markets (ATSDR 1993).
The Flint River, which flows southwest, west, and northwest of the base and Piney Woods Creek, which flows northeast of the base are classified by the state of Georgia as waters for fishing and propagation of fish, shellfish, game, and other aquatic life (Envirodyne, Inc. 1985). Hunting of game (e.g., deer, waterfowl, squirrel, and other small animals) is limited in the area immediately off base but increases beyond a 2-mile radius from the base (ATSDR, 1993).
In preparing this PHA, ATSDR reviewed and evaluated information provided in the referenced documents. Documents prepared for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) programs must meet specific standards for adequate quality assurance and control measures for chain-of-custody procedures, laboratory procedures, and data reporting. The environmental data presented in this PHA are from site characterization, remedial investigation, and groundwater monitoring reports prepared by the Navy and MCLB, Albany, contractors under CERCLA and RCRA. The validity of the analyses and conclusions drawn in this document are dependent on the availability and reliability of the referenced information.
ATSDR reviews data from site-related reports and evaluates whether detection limits are set at levels that are protective of public health. ATSDR also notes any inconsistencies or problems with data collection or reporting and evaluates whether the information is adequate to be used for making public health decisions. Based on our evaluation, ATSDR determined that the quality of environmental data available for the site-related documents for MCLB, Albany is adequate to make public health decisions.
In this section, ATSDR evaluates whether community members have been (past), are (current), or could be (future) exposed to harmful levels of chemicals. Figure 5 describes the conservative exposure evaluation process used by ATSDR. As the figure indicates, ATSDR considers how people might come into contact with, or be exposed to, contaminated media. Specifically, ATSDR determines whether an exposure could occur through ingestion, dermal (skin) contact with contaminated media, or inhalation of vapors, and also considers the likely length (duration) and frequency of the exposure.
If exposure was or is possible, ATSDR then considers whether chemicals were or are present at levels that might be harmful to people. ATSDR does this by screening the concentrations of contaminants in an environmental medium against health-based comparison values (CVs). CVs are chemical concentrations that health scientists have determined are not likely to cause adverse effects, even when assuming very conservative or safe exposure scenarios. Because CVs are not thresholds of toxicity, environmental levels that exceed CVs would not necessarily produce adverse health effects. If a chemical is found in the environment at levels exceeding its corresponding CV, ATSDR examines potential exposure variables and the toxicology of the contaminant. ATSDR emphasizes that regardless of the level of contamination, a public health hazard exists only if people come in contact with, or are otherwise exposed to, harmful levels of contaminated media.
In 1993, after an initial review of potential health hazards at MCLB, Albany, ATSDR classified the multiple PSCs at the base as indeterminate public health hazards. Since that time, ATSDR has reviewed additional environmental data for groundwater and soil exposure pathways. Following the strategy outlined above, ATSDR examined whether human exposure to harmful levels of contaminants via these pathways existed in the past, exists now, or could potentially exist in the future. ATSDR summarizes its evaluation of these exposure pathways in Table 2 and describes it in more detail in the discussion that follows. ATSDR also addresses consumption of fish caught from local water bodies and other health concerns in the "Community Health Concerns" section of this document. To acquaint readers with terminology used in this report, a list of CVs is included in Appendix A and a glossary in Appendix B.
ATSDR concludes that groundwater poses no apparent public health hazard for on-base supply well users and for groundwater users off base in the Ramsey Road neighborhood. ATSDR has categorized the Fleming Road neighborhood as an indeterminate public health hazard because additional private well water results are needed.
ATSDR concludes that on-base drinking water supplies pose no apparent public health hazard because the three supply wells draw primarily from deep aquifers that are not impacted by contamination and routine monitoring results continue to meet state and federal drinking water standards.
Based on the low levels of contamination and the provision of municipal water, ATSDR has categorized the off-base groundwater exposure pathway as a no apparent public health hazard in the Ramsey Road neighborhood. None of the private wells sampled since 1993 indicate that residents have been exposed to harmful levels of contaminants. ATSDR supports continued groundwater monitoring in the Ramsey Road area. Because of the potential for off-base migration of groundwater contaminants, ATSDR recommends that the two remaining residences in the Ramsey Road area, which still have private drinking water wells, be connected to municipal water.
Residents in the Fleming Road area, southwest of the base, have private wells that draw groundwater from the Upper Floridan Aquifer. One private well in this area was tested in 1997. Sampling of seven residential wells in September 2000 indicated TCE contamination of two wells at levels below EPAs MCLs. Sixteen new private wells on Fleming Road, southeast of MCLB, were tested in February and March 1998. None of the samples collected showed contamination. ATSDR has categorized the Fleming Road neighborhood, southwest of MCLB, as an indeterminate public health hazard because additional private well water results are needed. If chemical concentrations in private well water samples are found to exceed MCLs, ATSDR recommends that Fleming Road residents, southwest of the base, be connected to the city water supply.
Dougherty County lies within the Coastal Plain physiographic province of Georgia with elevations ranging from approximately 170 feet above mean sea level to 300 feet above mean sea level (HLA 1999). The Albany area regional geology is characterized by alternating units of sand, clay, sandstone, dolomite, and limestone that extend to a depth of at least 5,000 feet below land surface (bls). The soil and rock (confining) layers at MCLB, Albany, in descending order, are the clayey overburden, the Ocala Limestone, and the Lisbon Formation.
Groundwater in the Albany area is obtained from three primary aquifers: the Upper Floridan, the Claiborne, and the Clayton. The upper portion of the Floridan aquifer, or the Upper Floridan aquifer (UFA), consists primarily of the Ocala Limestone and ranges about 200 to 275 feet thick in the vicinity of MCLB, Albany. A perched water table within the overburden is located in the Ocala Limestone (USGS 1999). Although the Floridan aquifer is divided into the UFA and Lower Floridan aquifer (LFA), the LFA is not present in the Albany area. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the UFA is subdivided into an upper water-bearing zone (UWBZ), composed of the middle and upper units of the Ocala Limestone, and a lower water-bearing zone (LWBZ) composed of the lower unit of the Ocala Limestone (Figure 6). Groundwater in the UFA generally flows westward, eventually discharging through springs into the Flint River. Both horizontal and vertical flow direction, however, may vary in response to areas of increased porosity in limestone and to seasonal fluctuations in rainfall (USGS 1999).
Since 1953, MCLB, Albany, has relied on three groundwater supply wells as its source of potable water. One well [PW1 - 940 feet deep] is located in the center of the base just to the northwest of Covella Pond. The second well [PW2 - 997 feet deep] is located northeast of PSC 18 in the southeastern quadrant of the base (Figure 7). The third well [PW3 - 900 feet deep] is located just east of the pecan orchards in the southwestern quadrant of the base. The wells draw groundwater primarily from the Claiborne, Clayton, and Providence aquifers, however, two of the wells (PW1 and PW3) also draw water from the lower part of the UFA or LWBZ (USGS 1999). Together, these wells furnish approximately 700,000 gallons of water a day to the base (HLA 1999). Before reaching on-base taps, the water is treated with chlorine (to prevent bacterial contamination) and sodium hexametaphosphate (to prevent lime build-up on the pipes) (Major A. Ference, MCLB, Environmental Branch, March 1999).
MCLB, Albany, also uses four on-base irrigation wells. Three of the wells (IR-W5,-W6,-W7) are used to irrigate the 9-hole golf course located on base (production rates of 80 to 120 gallons per minute), and the fourth well (IR-W8) is used to water a pecan grove on 240 acres in the southwestern corner of the base (production rate of 385 gallons per minute). All four wells draw water from either the UWBZ or LWBZ of the UFA (ATSDR 1993). The groundwater investigation at MCLB has not identified any contamination in areas where the irrigation wells draw water (HLA 1999). The Central Repair Division (also known as the Depot Maintenance Activity) has a nonchlorinated well (DMA-W4) that supplies water for testing filter equipment; however, it is not used for drinking water (ATSDR 1993).
Many residents living north, northwest, west, and a few areas northeast of the base are served by municipal water. The municipal water supply for the area surrounding MCLB, Albany, is produced by a system of wells operated by the city of Albany. An average of 18.2 million gallons of water per day is currently drawn from 32 multi-aquifer wells (HLA 1999). Approximately half these wells are supplied by the Claiborne aquifer and the other half are supplied by the Clayton aquifer. The closest municipal wells to the base are located about 1 mile northwest of the northwest corner of MCLB, Albany.
Two residential areas near the base have used private wells for drinking water. Originally 60 households located in the Ramsey Road area relied on 56 private wells for drinking water. During the summer of 1999, MCLB, Albany, connected all but two of these residences to municipal water (Major A. Ference, MCLB, Environmental Branch, November 1999). Approximately 64 households in the Fleming Road area obtain water from 54 private wells. The USGS office in Atlanta determined that most of these private wells draw groundwater from the UFA (D.W. Hicks, hydrologist, USGS, April 14, 1999). The agricultural areas south, east, and northeast of the base also obtain water from private wells. Lobarton Farms is located to the south of MCLB, Albany, and relies on wells with average depths around 300 feet. These wells are primarily used for irrigation and have a capacity to pump large quantities of water (K. McSwain, USGS, November 22, 1999).
Nature and Extent of Groundwater Contamination
On-Base Groundwater Contamination
More than 200 monitoring wells were installed at MCLB, Albany, between 1985 and 1998 to characterize the on-base hydrology, confirm the presence of groundwater contamination, and delineate the groundwater plumes. Monitoring wells were installed in the overburden (depths less than 40 feet) and in the UFA (in the LWBZ down to 207 feet bls). The samples were analyzed for VOCs, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides, PCBs, and metals (HLA 1999).
Sampling results indicate that groundwater in the overburden, UWBZ, and LWBZ of the UFA has been contaminated with VOCs and metals. As Table 3 indicates, the most frequently detected VOCs at levels above ATSDR's CVs were trichloroethylene (TCE) (2-8,700 parts per billion [ppb]), 1,2-dichloroethylene (1,2-DCE) (0.4-7,600 ppb), and tetrachloroethylene (0.4-410 ppb). Table 3 also indicates some metals were detected at concentrations above CVs. The presence of these metals in groundwater appears at least partly attributable to iron-complexed suspended solids that were introduced during well sampling rather than to dissolved metals that leached into groundwater as a result of contaminants released from MCLB, Albany (HLA 1999).
From the results of the groundwater investigations, three general areas of groundwater contamination became evident: 1) Northern Area, which includes PSC 1 (East Disposal Area), PSC 3 (Long-Term Landfill), and PSC 26 (Containment Berm Area); 2) the DMA area, which includes PSC 10 (Central Repair Division of the DMA), PSC 13 (the industrial wastewater pipeline, PSC 22 (DMA storage area), and PSC 12 (IWTP); and 3) PSC 4, which includes the Warehouse Disposal Area (HLA 1999) .
Within the three general areas of groundwater contamination, a total of seven VOC plumes have been identified; five plumes are located in the upper layer of the UFA, or UWBZ, of PSC 1, PSC 3, PSC 4, PSC 26, and the DMA, and two plumes are located in the deeper layer of the UFA, or the LWBZ, in the PSC 3 area and the DMA area (Figure 7). Groundwater data collected between 1992 and 2000 have shown the following: the highest level of TCE (up to 8,700 ppb) was detected in the UWBZ plume of the DMA area. In the LWBZ, TCE (up to 94 ppb) was detected in the DMA area. The highest level of 1,2-DCE (up to 7, 600 ppb) was detected in the UWBZ plume in the Northern Plume area. In the LWBZ, 1,2-DCE (up to 245 ppb) were detected in the Northern Plume area. TCE (up to 33 ppb) and 1,2-DCE (1.9 ppb) were also detected in the PSC 4 UWBZ plume. For all seven plumes, TCE is the contaminant that has migrated the furthest from potential source areas (HLA 1999).
To date, MCLB, Albany, has delineated the extent of the UWBZ plumes in the PSC 1, PSC 3, PSC 4, PSC 26, and DMA areas. The most recent monitoring data indicate that the leading edge of the UWBZ plume at PSC 4 is about 200 feet from the base's northern boundary. The LWBZ plumes at PSC 3 and the DMA should be further delineated. Site-related contaminants have been detected in off-base monitoring wells in the PSC 3 LWBZ. Additional monitoring data will help to identify the northern extent of this plume. The groundwater flow in the LWBZ in the DMA area is generally toward the west/southwest (HLA 1999). Since groundwater data indicate that southwesterly migration is possible (USGS 1999) and several private wells to the southwest of MCLB are contaminated, further delineation of the plumes from the DMA area is needed.
MCLB, Albany, has operated two recovery well systems on the base to remediate or contain the contaminated groundwater. One system, a six-well pump-and-treat remedial system, located at the IWTP in PSC 12 is designed to remove VOCs and inorganic analytes from groundwater. The system also contains 16 monitoring wells to measure the water level and to collect and analyze groundwater samples (HLA 1999). The first recovery well in the system began groundwater extraction in 1990. The second system, comprising two recovery wells, is located on the north side of PSC 3, near the perimeter fence. This system pumps groundwater from the UWBZ and was installed as an interim measure to prevent migration of contaminants associated with the PSC 3 groundwater plume to off-base locations (Captain J. Dodd, MCLB, Public Affairs Division, March 1999).
As mentioned, three potable water supply wells (PW1, PW2, and PW3) are located on base. Between December 1985 and May 1990, MCLB, Albany, routinely tested the water from all three potable wells, and on-base drinking water safely met state and federal drinking water standards for metals, pesticides, and VOCs (ATSDR 1993). Currently, MCLB, Albany, monitors their on-base drinking water supply on a yearly basis for VOCs and metals, and the water continues to meet the applicable state and federal drinking water standards. ATSDR reviewed the results of recent drinking water samples collected on July 14, 1999, for each of the three potable wells on base. The results showed that the only VOCs detected, 1,2-DCE (cis) [0.61 ppb] and 1,1-dichloroethane [2.8 ppb], were well below ATSDR's CVs. These levels were detected in supply well PW1 in the center of the base. Most metals and pesticides were below the instrument detection limits (Captain J. Dodd, MCLB, Public Affairs Division, March 1999). Base wells samples from September 2000 showed 1,1-dichloroethane [1.5 ppb] in PW1 (Harding ESE 2000b). No monitoring data are available for irrigation wells, but the groundwater investigation did not identify any groundwater contamination beneath areas where the irrigation wells draw water (HLA 1999).
A monitoring well was installed at PSC 9, the Carpenter Shop Wood Preservation Tank. The tank contained pentachlorophenyl (PCP) which was used to treat wood. Although surrounding soils were contaminated from leakage, no PCP was detected in the monitoring well (MCLB, September 2001).
Off-Base Groundwater Contamination
Contaminants such as 1,2,-DCE associated with the PSC 3 LWBZ plume have been detected in a monitoring well at the base's northern fence line, just southwest of the Ramsey Road neighborhood. Contamination has been detected in two off-base LWBZ monitoring wells located north of the PSC 3 area (HLA 1999). Low VOC concentrations (below ATSDR CVs) were detected in UWBZ monitoring wells near the northern boundary of the base's PSC 3 area, but no contaminants were found in UWBZ monitoring wells located immediately off base (HLA 1999).
In November 1993, EPA sampled and analyzed water from six private wells in the Ramsey Road area to determine whether any contaminants from the PSC 3 plume reached the wells. The results of these tests indicated that very low levels of TCE (2.1, 0.73, and 1.5 ppb) and 1,2-DCE (2.9, 0.93, and 2.5 ppb) existed in three of the six sampled wells. Another round of sampling conducted in the same six wells in April 1994 also detected low levels of TCE (0.88 and 1.2 ppb) and 1,2-DCE (0.95 and 1.5 ppb) but in only two of the six wells (EPA 1993, 1994). For both sampling events, TCE and 1,2-DCE concentrations were below ATSDR's CVs. Methylene chloride was detected (5.8 ppb) slightly above ATSDR's CV of 5 ppb in one of the wells sampled in April 1994. Because methylene chloride is a common laboratory contaminant and it was detected only one time, ATSDR does not consider it a contaminant of concern for this residential community.
In May 1997, water samples were collected from one residence south of MCLB, Albany, off of Fleming Road. All VOCs, pesticides, herbicides, and other organic compounds analyzed were below the instrument detection limits (EPA 1997). No contaminants (including metals and nitrates) from the private well were detected above ATSDR's CVs and EPA's maximum contaminant levels (MCLs). This sample was collected at the request of the property owner and no other private wells were sampled in the Fleming Road area (EPA 1997).
In February and March 1998, the Dougherty County Health Department coordinated water sampling for 16 new private water wells on Fleming Road, located southeast of MCLB, Albany. The purpose of the sampling was to determine whether VOCs were migrating from the Fleming Road/Gaissert Road Sanitary Landfill. ATSDR reviewed the results of the water sampling tests to ensure that contaminants, either from the base or from the landfill, were not impacting any of these private water supplies. All of the VOCs tested for were below the instrument detection limit.
In August 1998, EPA conducted another round of sampling and analysis of tap water from 31 private wells in the Ramsey Road area. Results of the sampling indicate that 30 of 31 private wells did not contain contaminants related to the PSC 3 LWBZ plume. The one well with VOCs had TCE (0.91 ppb) and 1,2-DCE (1.0 ppb) concentrations below ATSDR's CVs (Table 3) (EPA 1998). Lead, Arochlor 1242 (a mixture of PCBs), dieldrin, and heptachlor epoxide were detected at levels slightly above ATSDR's CVs or EPA's action level. Lead was detected in five wells with two of these wells having concentrations at or above EPA's action level of 15 ppb. PCBs were detected only one time in one well. The presence of the pesticides such as dieldrin and heptachlor epoxide in groundwater is probably due to their general use in the area and is not likely a result of specific activities on the base (Table 4).
The next private well sampling took place between January 25 and 26, 1999. Samples were collected from 33 private wells and were analyzed for VOCs, pesticides, and metals. The sample locations extended as far north of the base as Sylvester Highway (approximately 1.5 miles north of the base). Eight of these 33 wells were sampled previously, three in 1994 and five in 1998. VOCs were detected in three wells in the Ramsey Road neighborhood immediately northeast of PSC 3, all the VOCs were below CVs. Low levels of pesticides were detected in 11 wells and the concentrations were highest north of Sylvester Highway. Results of the sampling also identified only one contaminant, bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (15 ppb), that exceeded its CV in one well north of Sylvester Highway (Table 4). Although bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate is a contaminant in groundwater on base, it is also a common laboratory contaminant and is unlikely to be related to base groundwater contamination. This contaminant has been detected in on-base groundwater sampling of the LWBZ plume in the PSC 3 area but only at levels below ATSDR's CV and EPA's MCLs (EPA 1999a). Lead was not detected in any private well during this sampling period.
The most recent private well sampling took place on April 26 and 27, 1999. Water samples were collected from 15 residential wells in the Ramsey Road area, including Council Road, Parr Road, Branch Road, and Ramsey Lane. The samples were tested for VOCs, metals, and PCBs (Arochlor 1242 ). No VOCs or metals were detected above ATSDR's CVs. Arochlor 1242 (0.4 ppb) was detected in one private well.
Three private wells along Fleming Road were sampled by EPA in February 2000. One well contained TCE at 1.4 ppb (EPA 2000). In September 2000, six wells on Fleming Road and one well on Pecan Lane were sampled for VOCs (Harding ESE 2000b). The well previously found to be contaminated at 1.4 ppb had a detection of 1.5 ppb TCE. A nearby Fleming Road well contained TCE at 2.0 ppb.
The city of Albany operates municipal drinking supply wells within 1 mile northwest of the northwest corner of MCLB, Albany. These wells typically exceed 700 feet in depth and are completed below the UFA (USGS 1999). The city of Albany tests its water supply wells annually for VOCs and EPA priority pollutants, and no contaminants associated with MCLB, Albany, groundwater plumes have been detected (R. Stinnette, Albany Water and Light Analytical Laboratory, June 25, 1999). The most recent drinking water test ATSDR reviewed was from April 1998 (Albany Water, Gas, and Light 1999).
Evaluation of Potential Public Health Hazards
Past exposures are unlikely to have occurred from any of the drinking water wells on base because these wells draw water from the deeper Claiborne, Clayton, and Providence aquifers or the LWBZ of the UFA, or are located in areas that have not been affected by contamination. Drinking water for MCLB, Albany, is tested on a yearly basis for VOCs and metals. Levels of contaminants have not exceeded drinking water standards in the past.
Data from private wells sampled since 1993 indicate that residents have not been exposed to harmful levels of contaminants. Contaminants from the LWBZ plume in the PSC 3 area have been detected in monitoring wells at the base's fence line, southwest of the Ramsey Road neighborhood, and in two off-base monitoring wells located north of the base. Although private wells that have been sampled in the Ramsey Road neighborhood have contained a few of the same VOCs identified in the LWBZ plume originating in the PSC 3 area, the concentrations detected were below ATSDR's CVs. Lead was detected near EPA's action level in two private wells in 1998. ATSDR does not consider the contamination detected to date in the Ramsey Road area to represent levels that would cause adverse health effects. ATSDR does not have a historical record of private well sampling data for the Fleming Road neighborhood, southwest of MCLB.
Current and Future Exposures
The results of groundwater sampling since 1993 indicate that exposure of harmful levels of contaminants to residents in the Ramsey Road area are not occurring. However, contamination in the LWBZ of the Upper Floridan aquifer has not been fully delineated, and the potential for future exposures to harmful levels of contaminants cannot be ruled out. Land use at MCLB, Albany, is not anticipated to change and new groundwater drinking wells will not be installed on base in the UWBZ or LWBZ, where contamination has been detected. The base-wide groundwater investigation has demonstrated that many of the plumes are stable and are not expected to migrate toward on-base wells. Moreover, ongoing remediation efforts will help reduce contaminant levels in affected plumes (HLA 1999).
Recent sampling in the Ramsey Road area showed that some private wells contained VOCs, but none exceeded ATSDR's CVs. As a precautionary measure, MCLB, Albany, officials have connected all but two residents, who declined the offer, in the Ramsey Road area to municipal water supplies. Additional off-base monitoring of the PSC 3 LWBZ plume is continuing and will help ensure that contaminants do not migrate to any areas where residents continue to use private wells for irrigation or any other purposes. As a precautionary measure, ATSDR recommends the two remaining Ramsey Road residences, still using groundwater from private wells as their drinking water source, connect to municipal water and that abandoned private wells be permanently sealed to prevent any future potential exposures.
Since the limited residential well sampling to date has shown contamination in two private wells on Fleming Road, southwest of MCLB, ATSDR recommends that remediation and monitoring of the DMA plumes continue. ATSDR supports further sampling of private wells in the Fleming Road area and recommends that sampling be conducted at least semi-annually (preferably quarterly) to account for seasonal variations. If chemical concentrations in private well water samples are found to exceed MCLs, ATSDR recommends that Fleming Road residents, southwest of the base, be connected to the city water supply.
No past, current, or future public health hazards are associated with exposure to contaminated soils at MCLB, Albany, because contamination is either located where exposure has been and continues to be infrequent or unlikely, is detected only at low levels, or has been removed from the site. Land-use restrictions and restricted access measures have been instituted at PSCs where soil contamination is still present.
Since ATSDR released the PHA in 1993, MCLB, Albany, has conducted several additional environmental investigations to further characterize contamination in soil at the base. Through these investigations, many samples have been collected from the five OUs and analyzed for VOCs, SVOCs, PCBs, pesticides and metals.
Results of the soil sampling indicate that contaminants, including metals, PCBs, and pesticides, are present in soil at the PSCs within each of the OUs, and some contaminants are at levels exceeding ATSDR's CVs. Since identifying contaminants in on-base surface soil, MCLB, Albany, has completed remedial activities at and controlled access to several PSCs with the highest contaminant levels. The nature and extent of soil contamination detected in each OU and corrective measures taken by MCLB, Albany, are summarized in the discussion that follows and in Table 1.
Nature and Extent of Soil Contamination
- Operable Unit 1
- Operable Unit 2
- Operable Unit 3
- Operable Unit 4
- Operable Unit 5
OU 1 consists of PSC 1 (the East Disposal Area), PSC 2 (the Rubble Disposal Area), PSC 3 (the Long Term Landfill), and PSC 26 (the Containment Berm Area). Soil sampling was conducted in 1986 during the Initial Assessment Study and between 1992 through 1995 as part of the OU 1 remedial investigation and baseline risk assessment (RI/BRA). Results of the soil sampling indicated that VOCs, SVOCs, and some pesticides were present in the soil, but at concentrations below CVs. Iron and manganese were detected above background concentrations but were below their CVs. Most of the contamination was detected in the subsurface soil, at depths where human contact is limited (ABB 1997a).
In May 1996, contaminated sludge piles from the surface of the former landfill at PSC 3 were removed and disposed of off base and institutional controls were implemented to control access and restrict future land use. Institutional controls were also implemented at PSC 26, primarily to mitigate potential exposures to iron and manganese in soil.
OU 2 consists of PSC 11, which was reportedly used for the disposal of explosive ordnance. Samples collected during the Confirmation Study in 1987 and the 1991 RI did not reveal elevated levels of any contaminants in surface soil, and no other sources of contamination were identified (ABB 1996). Geophysical surveying and excavation of the area by explosive ordnance disposal specialists indicate that no ordnance was disposed of at this site (J. Daniels, Harding Law Associates, personal communication, September 1999). No remedial action was deemed necessary at this OU.
OU 3 consists of PSC 16 (Building 7100 PCB Area) and PSC 17 (the DMA Chrome Area). At PSC 16, soil sampling and analysis conducted in 1990 confirmed the presence of PCBs and SVOCs in soil beneath the former transformer pad (ABB 1997b). Following these detections, the base removed the soil at this PSC to a depth of 44 inches below ground surface, disposed the soil off base, and covered the excavated area with clean soil. They also installed a multi-layer cap, reinstalled security fencing, and restricted access and certain activities at the site.
PSC 17 historically contained metal-plating operations. A release of chrome plating waste to the surrounding soil occurred in 1989. In 1990 and 1991, soil sampling indicated that the spill area was contaminated with chromium and lead. In 1993, MCLB, Albany, excavated and transported contaminated soil from PSC 17 to an off-base disposal facility and replaced the excavated material with clean soil from off-base sources (ABB 1997b).
OU 4 includes PSC 6 (the Industrial Discharge Drainage Area), PSC 10 (the DMA), PSC 12 (the IWTP), PSC 13 (the IWTP pipeline), and PSC 22 (the DMA Storage Facility). No surface soil, surface water, or sediment samples were collected at PSCs 10, 12, 13, and 22 because of the extensive concrete surface that covers each PSC. No treatment, containment, or restricted access is expected to be needed for any of these PSCs (HLA 1999).
PSC 6 consists of the industrial discharge drainage ditch that runs from the IWTP to the Marine Canal, and the sanitary sewer line that runs from the IWTP to the DWTP. Low levels of VOCs, SVOCs, and pesticides were detected at PSC 6 below CVs. Land-use controls have been instituted at PSC 6 and access to the property surrounding PSC 6 is controlled by base security measures, which include fencing, pass and identification procedures at the guardhouse, and periodic security patrols (HLA 1999).
OU 5 includes PSC 8 (the Grit Disposal Area) and PSC 14 (the DWTP). PSC 8 was used for the disposal of materials such as sand, broken glass, nuts, bolts, and other non-biodegradable materials. No contaminants were found in surface soil above CVs. In January 1996, contaminated materials were excavated from the site and transported to an off-base disposal site. The excavated area was replaced with clean soil and subsequent soil testing did not show any contaminants to be above CVs (ABB 1997c).
PSC 14 is a grassy, open, 5-acre site surrounded by pecan groves in the southwestern portion of the base. The DWTP operated from 1952 to 1990 to treat sanitary and pretreated industrial wastes generated at the site. In 1991, MCLB, Albany, removed six sludge drying beds at this PSC; no further remedial action has been taken. Follow-up soil sampling confirmed that contaminant levels had been greatly reduced to levels within background concentrations. The soil around the pecan orchards was also sampled and found to be clean (M. Kellam, Georgia Environmental Protection Division, personal communication, April 1999).
Evaluation of Potential Public Health Hazards
Past exposure, if any, to contaminants in soil was infrequent and of short duration. Moreover, most contaminants were detected at levels below CVs. It is highly unlikely that nearby residents were in contact with the most contaminated areas because fences or other guarded gates restrict public access. Present or future exposures to contaminated soil are unlikely to occur because restrictions (e.g., fences and guarded gates) are in place to prevent unauthorized access. As mentioned previously, MCLB, Albany, has excavated many areas of soil contamination and sludge to reduce contaminant levels in the soil to safe levels. The site should not pose future health hazards to the public as long as land-use restrictions are enforced.
ATSDR has communicated with residents who live near MCLB, Albany, as well as representatives from community groups to identify community health concerns. A public availability session (PAS) was held on March 25, 1999, at the Dougherty County Health Department to provide an opportunity for community members to discuss health and site-related concerns with ATSDR staff. ATSDR staff also heard concerns when they attended EPA's PAS on June 24, 1999, and when ATSDR held a public meeting on September 21, 1999, both of which were held at the Dougherty County Health Department. The purpose of the September 21, 1999, meeting was to discuss two ATSDR programs with the community, health education and health promotion/environmental health intervention. The community group, East Albany Against Garbage Landfill Expansion (EAAGLE), provided ATSDR with their recommendations for the public health assessment. ATSDR responded to those recommendations in a January 2000 letter. A copy of their recommendations and ATSDR's responses can be found in Appendix C. Our responses to public comments, which also contain concerns from the community, are found in Appendix D. Other community concerns regarding contamination and health effects associated with MCLB, Albany, gathered during public meetings are summarized here and followed by our responses.
- Concern that residents living in the Ramsey Road neighborhood are exposed to contaminated drinking water from their private wells.
Environmental investigations have identified groundwater contamination at MCLB, Albany. One groundwater plume, located in the northern part of the base at PSC 3, has migrated to the site boundary near the Ramsey Road neighborhood. Private well tests in November 1993, April 1994, and August 1998, detected low levels of VOCs below ATSDR's CVs (used to evaluate potential public health concerns) and lead at or slightly above its CVs. Contamination was found in several private wells in the Ramsey Road neighborhood, those closest to the base. Private well tests in January and April 1999 did not detect VOCs or metals above CVs in any wells including the two wells with lead exceeding CVs in August 1998.
In November 1998, MCLB, Albany, was directed by Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GEPD), under the authority of the Georgia Hazardous Waste Management Act and the Hazardous Waste Facility Permit issued to the base, to provide connections to municipal water supplies for residents living in the Ramsey Road area north of PSC 3. The subsequent connection of nearby residents was conducted as an interim measure, formally proposed by MCLB, Albany, and approved by GEPD. MCLB, Albany, officials have connected all but two residents, who declined the offer to be connected, living in the Ramsey Road neighborhood to municipal water supplies. Because of the potential for off-base migration of groundwater contaminants and as a precautionary measure, ATSDR recommends the two remaining Ramsey Road residences, still using groundwater from private wells as their drinking water source, connect to municipal water. We recommend that abandoned private wells be permanently sealed to prevent any future potential exposures. ATSDR supports continued monitoring of the PSC 3 LWBZ plume and delineation of the extent of contamination.
- Concern that city municipal waste was dumped at MCLB, Albany.
According to city representatives at the PAS held on March 25, 1999, the city of Albany never disposed of waste at MCLB, Albany. ATSDR does not have any other information to suggest that city municipal waste has been disposed of at MCLB, Albany.
- Concern about a proposed landfill north of MCLB, Albany.
A construction and demolition landfill for nonhazardous waste has been proposed for an area located just north of MCLB, Albany. ATSDR is not involved with licensing of this landfill, however, the operator of the landfill would have to follow RCRA permit guidelines for nonhazardous solid waste landfills. More information regarding this proposed landfill can be obtained from:
Industrial Solid Waste Program, Land Protection Branch
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Environmental Protection Division
4424 International Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30354
- Concern that chemicals identified in the groundwater interact with medications.
As mentioned, harmful levels of contaminants have not been detected in any drinking water supplies. Individuals who have concerns about how low levels of chemicals may interfere or interact with a medication they are taking should consult with their physician. Medications may interact with many foods, dietary supplements, and with other medications and chemicals. A physician can inform you of important interactions associated with specific medications. The non-detectable or very low concentrations of contaminants found in private well water near MCLB, Albany, give no reason to believe that this would be a cause for concern.
- Concern about rates of cancer in the communities around MCLB, Albany.
Many states, like Georgia, have registries that collect information on new cases of cancer diagnosed at hospitals within the states. Any individual wanting to learn about rates of cancer in a community within the state of Georgia should submit a request in writing to:
Georgia Department of Human Resources
Cancer Control Department
Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry
2 Peachtree Street, 6th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303-3142
ATSDR gathers health outcome data (such as records of birth defects and cancer registry data) from local, state, and national databases when available and applicable and includes them in the public health assessment. In our 1993 PHA, ATSDR reviewed vital statistic information (e.g., causes of death, birth, and abortion data) provided by the Georgia Department of Health, statewide cancer morbidity and survival data from the Georgia Cancer Registry and the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, and cancer mortality data from the National Cancer Institute (ATSDR 1993). Based on this review, ATSDR concluded that community-specific health outcome data were generally not available. The health outcome data at the county level that were reviewed indicated that the "total all causes death rate" and the "total all cancer death rate" in Dougherty County were lower than the State of Georgia, but that some indications of possible problems related to health care access existed (see Appendix C- Response to Community Recommendations).
The groundwater and soil data gathered for MCLB, Albany after 1993 through 2000 do not indicate exposures at levels that might cause adverse health effects. However, based on community concerns, ATSDR did conduct a health outcome evaluation (Appendix E).
To address community concerns regarding cancer and other health outcomes, ATSDR evaluated cancer mortality and selected vital statistics data for Dougherty and Worth Counties, Georgia. The health evaluation indicated that in general, cancer mortality rates within these two counties appear to be close to expected based on the state of Georgia. The two cancer sites that were statistically significant, colorectal and lung and bronchus, were only observed among males in Dougherty County (Appendix E).
- Concern about illnesses (other than cancer) in the community.
Residents listed some disorders they were concerned about at the June 1999 PAS meeting, including blood, reproductive, heart, skin, and stomach disorders. Other health concerns mentioned included stress, high blood pressure, gall bladder problems, thyroid disease, neuromuscular problems, birth defects, liver and kidney ailments, among other illnesses.
Because only low-level exposures to contaminants have occurred and in very few private wells, we do not believe that site-related adverse health outcomes have occurred. Residents having health concerns should consult with their physicians. ATSDR conducted health education for community members and health care providers. The goal of community health education was to help community members understand their potential for exposure, how to prevent or mitigate exposure, and how to assess the occurrence of adverse health outcomes in the community. The purpose of education for health care providers was to improve the knowledge and skill of health professionals in diagnosing, treating, or educating patients possibly exposed to hazardous substances in the environment.
ATSDR has provided and will continue to provide its public health assessments on MCLB, Albany, to the Emory Clinic, which is affiliated with the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC). AOEC helps provide occupational and environmental diagnoses. The Emory Clinic address is 1525 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia, 30322. The clinic phone number is 404-778-5978.
- Members of the community group, EAAGLE, have requested a health study because of health concerns previously listed and exposure to contaminants in private wells. They requested a comparison community not located near a Superfund site.
ATSDR concluded that exposure to soil contaminants at the base does not pose a health hazard and that off-base groundwater poses an indeterminate public health hazard, southwest of MCLB, and a no apparent public health hazard, northeast of MCLB. An adequate population size is necessary to provide useful information for the type of health study requested. The population of the Ramsey Road neighborhood, based on approximately 56 private wells, is estimated at less than 200 persons. Because of the small number of persons in the group, a statistically significant association between exposure and disease would be highly unlikely. ATSDR's previous review (ATSDR 1993) of health outcome data at the county level and our current review of health statistics for Dougherty and Worth Counties (Appendix E) do not indicate that contamination from MCLB, Albany, has had an adverse impact on human health. A health study for this site is not warranted at this time. ATSDR will revisit the guidance for health studies (ATSDR 1996) if additional information becomes available suggesting that a health study is appropriate near the MCLB, Albany, site.
- Concern over multiple exposures to a mixture of chemicals over several decades.
Aquifer properties, such as hydraulic conductivities, do not lead ATSDR to think that exposures from MCLB, Albany, via groundwater have occurred over many decades. The contamination found in a few private wells is not at levels that would cause adverse health effects.
While data gaps still exist, there is a large body of research that has been published about combined exposures to a variety of potentially hazardous substances (also see our response in Appendix C, #14). Research shows that exposure levels are important because health effects are not observed when individual dose levels are considerably (> 10 times) below toxicological thresholds. From the available data, it appears that very low levels of chemical substances, such as those substances detected in the private well water of the Ramsey Road community, are unlikely to produce observable responses even when one considers the mixture of contaminants.
- Concern about contaminants entering surface waters at MCLB, Albany.
Two primary surface water bodies are located on MCLB, Albany, property, Indian Lake and Covella Pond. Two other intermittent surface water features, the Marine Canal and a runoff area for PSC 3 (Long-Term Landfill), are also located on base. To date, only limited monitoring data (one sample collected in July 1989 and seven samples collected in May 1993) are available for the pond and lake. Results of the sampling indicated that no contaminants, including metals, pesticides, PCBs, and VOCs, exceeding ATSDR's health-based CVs were present in the samples (ATSDR 1993). Although sampling data are limited, findings from other site activities suggest no likelihood that contaminants have or could travel to these water bodies. First, according to base-wide groundwater investigations, groundwater plumes associated with MCLB, Albany, do not discharge to surface-water bodies (HLA 1999). Second, remedial actions at each of the five OUs have removed contaminated sludge piles and most contaminated surface soil, thereby reducing the potential for surface-water runoff to carry contaminants into on-base surface-water bodies.
- Concern about contamination entering Piney Woods Creek.
According to some residents of the area, Piney Woods Creek, located northeast of MCLB, Albany, is used for recreational fishing. ATSDR has received some community concerns about potential contamination entering Piney Woods Creek from MCLB, Albany. These concerns were specifically related to whether it was safe to consume fish caught in the creek. The creek flows along the eastern boundary of the base through an area that is predominantly wooded. Portions of Piney Woods Creek are intermittent and can dry up during periods of limited rainfall. To date, no sampling data have been generated for Piney Woods Creek. Surface water on the eastern most portion of the base flows toward Piney Woods Creek. The only PSC in this area, PSC 11, did not contain surface soil contaminants at levels above ATSDR's CVs (HLA 1999).
Currently, no connection is apparent between the creek and groundwater sources that could contaminate the creek. However, in the absence of surface water data on the creek, ATSDR reviewed the analytic results of surface water samples collected at PSCs 1, 2, 3, and 11, and of surface water samples from Indian Lake. These results suggest no significant migration of contaminants to Piney Woods Creek. MCLB, Albany, conducted a Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment as part of the OU 1 RI/BRA released in 1995 and concluded that no significant health risks are posed by surface water runoff from the PSCs. Because of this information, no sampling of the Piney Woods Creek was conducted (Captain J. Dodd, MCLB, Public Affairs Division, March 1999).
- Concern about consuming freshwater fish and other foods obtained on base or near the base.
Limited fish sampling and no sampling of game, and locally-grown food (e.g., pecans) has been conducted near MCLB, Albany. This is largely because no evidence suggests that contaminants have traveled from source areas via groundwater or soil to local surface water bodies, grazing lands, or agricultural property. As part of its environmental investigations, MCLB, Albany, did sample fish from Indian Lake in 1993 and analyzed composite samples for VOCs, SVOCs, pesticides, PCBs, and metals (EPA 1995). Results indicate that no samples exceeded acceptable levels (Food and Drug Administration Action Levels) for any of the contaminants tested. The pecan grove is not located in a contaminated area and no groundwater contamination has been identified where the irrigation well draws water.
ATSDR recognizes that infants and children may be more sensitive than are adults to environmental exposure in communities faced with contamination of their water, soil, air, or food. This sensitivity is a result of the following factors: 1) children are more likely to be exposed to certain media like soil when they play outdoors; 2) children are shorter and therefore may be more likely to breathe dust, soil, and vapors close to the ground; and 3) children are smaller than adults and therefore may receive doses of chemical exposure that are higher relative to their body weights. Children also can sustain permanent damage if exposed to toxic substances during critical growth stages. As part of its Child Health Initiative, ATSDR is committed to evaluating children's special interests at sites such as MCLB, Albany. ATSDR identified no situations in which children are likely to be exposed to harmful levels of chemical contaminants associated with the MCLB, Albany, site.
ATSDR evaluated the likelihood that children living at or near MCLB, Albany, may have been or may be exposed to contaminants at levels of health concern. Roughly 180 children of school age are estimated to live on-base at MCLB, Albany, housing. ATSDR determined that no harmful exposures are likely to occur because children who live on base do not have access to PSCs at the site. Furthermore, ATSDR did not identify any harmful exposures at nearby schools, residential areas, or recreational areas that are specific to children and associated with MCLB, Albany. As with all other persons living in the vicinity of MCLB, Albany, children ingest drinking water (supplied by local public water supplies or private wells) that has, at least in part, been pumped from aquifers near MCLB, Albany. No exposures to harmful levels of contaminants are occurring, however. This potential groundwater exposure pathway is discussed extensively in "Environmental Contamination and Potential Pathways of Exposure." ATSDR did not identify any situations where children were likely to be or to have been exposed to contaminants at levels that could pose health concerns.