PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
CHERRY POINT MARINE CORPS AIR STATION
CHERRY POINT, CRAVEN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA
Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point is an active 11,485 acre installation north of the Town of Havelock in southeastern Craven County, North Carolina. MCAS Cherry Point was added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List (NPL) on December 16, 1994. The station's inclusion on the NPL was largely based on groundwater contamination. ATSDR discussed groundwater contamination, treatment, and usage with MCAS personnel during an August 1995 site visit and determined there is no current public health hazard associated with contaminated groundwater. In addition, we determined that other contaminated areas at the station [i.e., Installation Restoration Program (IRP) sites] do not currently pose a public health hazard because access to the sites is restricted or limited (thus exposure to contamination is not expected), migration of contaminants to areas where exposure might occur is not expected, and/or they have already been cleaned up.
ATSDR identifies ways in which people can be exposed to contamination and determines if that exposure poses a health hazard. ATSDR identified one exposure situation at MCAS - consumption of contaminated fish from the water bodies surrounding the station. After reviewing fish sampling data, we determined that consumption of fish poses no apparent public health hazard. However, in accordance with the shellfish advisory based on bacterial contamination, shellfish (mussels, clams, and oysters) should not be consumed.
Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point is an 11,485 acre installation north of the Town of Havelock in southeastern Craven County, North Carolina. The station is surrounded by water on three sides: Slocum Creek on the west, Hancock Creek on the east, and the Neuse River on the north (see Figure 1). Commissioned in 1942, the mission at MCAS Cherry Point is to maintain and operate support facilities, services, and material of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, or units thereof, and other activities and units as designated by the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, in coordination with the Chief of Naval Operations.(1)
Past waste disposal and storage practices at the station have resulted in environmental contamination at multiple sites. Environmental investigations at MCAS Cherry Point are conducted under the Installation Restoration Program (IRP) and were formally conducted under the Department of Navy Assessment and Control of Installation Pollutants (NACIP) Program.
Currently, 32 IRP sites are being investigated at the station; they are divided into 12 Operable Units (OUs). MCAS personnel have taken numerous actions to clean up and control the areas of contamination on the station and to reduce contaminant migration. A detailed discussion of IRP data and actions are provided in the station's IRP documents maintained at the station library and the Havelock Public Library. A summary of IRP site information is provided in Appendix A.
On December 16, 1994, MCAS Cherry Point was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) primarily because of groundwater contamination in the upper aquifers (not used for drinking water). The NPL is a list of hazardous waste sites slated for cleanup. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is mandated to conduct a public health assessment at each site proposed for or listed on the NPL.
ATSDR identifies ways people have been, are, or could be exposed to contaminants (exposure situations) at a site and determines if those exposures may pose public health hazards. Based on observations made during an August 1995 site tour which included discussions with MCAS, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources, and EPA personnel (see Appendix B for list of contacts) and a review of environmental data, we determined that environmental contamination at the station does not pose a public health threat. This report presents our evaluation of the IRP sites and groundwater and fish contamination.