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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

KALAMA SPECIALTY
BURTON, BEAUFORT COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA


SUMMARY

Kalama Specialty Chemicals, Inc. (KSCI) is a former chemical manufacturing plant located nearthe city of Beaufort, S.C. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added this site to the National Priorities List (NPL) in September 1984, as a result of chemical contamination of soiland groundwater. The contaminants of concern include benzene, 1,2-dichloroethane, 1,1-dichloroethylene, ethylbenzene, vinyl chloride, lead, mercury, and sodium. The site was ownedand operated by Vega Chemicals from 1973 to 1978. Vega Chemicals was a custommanufacturer of hydrogenated chemical products, as well as other specialty chemical products. This company treated their chemical wastewater in an unlined lagoon that discharged into anunderground tile field.

KSCI purchased an interest in Vega Chemicals in 1976 and acquired the facility (16-acre site) twoyears later. The site was adjacent to a 34-acre tract that contained a mobile home park. KSCIeventually acquired the 34-acre tract, but confined their chemical manufacturing to the original16-acre site.

In January 1979, following a fire and explosion, KSCI released a number of organic and inorganicchemicals into the environment. KSCI remained in operation until 1983. EPA and the SouthCarolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) have investigated the siteto better characterize the impact of environmental contamination on soil and groundwater.

No completed exposure pathways were identified at the KSCI site. Potential exposure pathwayswere identified for contaminated soil and groundwater which could result in human exposurethrough ingestion, inhalation or dermal absorption.

The Kalama Specialty Chemicals, Inc. site is classified as an indeterminate public health hazard,because the available data do not indicate that humans are being or have been exposed to levels ofcontaminants that would be expected to cause adverse health effects, however, soil andgroundwater exposure pathways have not been fully characterized. We recommend that: 1) thesite be secured to minimize exposures to the public; 2) future site development be restricted; 3)further sampling of private wells be performed to determine the potential for futurecontamination; 4) further sampling be conducted for ambient air quality, surface and subsurfacesoil both on-site and off-site; and, 5) more information be obtained on private well usage.

This public health assessment was reviewed by the ATSDR Health Activities RecommendationPanel, and the panel has determined that no follow-up health activities are indicated at this time.


BACKGROUND

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), under acooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR),will evaluate the public health significance of this site. SCDHEC will determine whether healtheffects are possible and will recommend actions to reduce or prevent possible health effects. ATSDR, in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services and is authorized by the Comprehensive Environmental Response,Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to conduct public health assessments athazardous waste sites.

A. Site Description and History

Kalama Specialty Chemicals, Inc. (KSCI) site is located approximately 4 miles northwest ofBeaufort, S.C. on Highway 21 (Figures l and 2). The site coordinates are 32o 28' 24" northlatitude and 80o 44' 25" west longitude. The site is bounded on the west by the Seaboard CoastLine Railroad and on the east by US Highway 21. The U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) isadjacent to the plant on the opposite side of U.S. Highway 21. The total area of the site isapproximately 50 acres. The site consists of a 34-acre former mobile home park in the northernportion and in the southern part a 16-acre tract which was originally owned by Vega Chemicals(Figure 3). KSCI purchased the 16-acre tract, then known as Vega Chemicals (Vega), from theBeaufort County Development Association in 1978 and the mobile home park from a privateowner in 1980. KSCI confined its operations to the 16-acre tract and conducted no operations onthe mobile home park property. Two abandoned sanitary oxidation ponds (pond 1 and pond 2,Figure 3) located in the mobile home park area had been used to receive sanitary wastewater fromthe mobile homes.

Vega first leased the 16-acre facility from the Beaufort County Development Corporation in 1973for custom chemical formulation operations. They treated process wastewater in an unlinedlagoon and tile field system (a trench filled with rock and pipe that functions to disperse wastefrom a septic tank). From 1977 to 1978, Vega repackaged a large quantity of phosphorusoxychloride and discharged the rinse water (used to clean the empty product containers) into thewastewater lagoon.

KSCI purchased an interest in Vega in 1976 and acquired the balance of the company in 1978. An explosion and fire at the operation area (the area surrounding the reactor pad and unlinedlagoon, Figure 3) in January 1979 released organic and inorganic chemicals into the environment. During the fire-fighting effort, contaminated water ran into the adjacent mobile home park. In1983, waste was removed from two lagoons previously used by KSCI and Vega and backfilledwith clean soils.

After KSCI ceased operations in 1983, the site was leased by a construction firm for storage ofpreserved timbers, oil tanks, and waste concrete from the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station atBeaufort. The construction firm conducted these storage activities from 1986 to 1989.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) first beganinvestigating the site in 1976 by inspecting the operation of the wastewater lagoon and the tilefield within the KSCI area. SCDHEC and KSCI continued to investigate the site throughgroundwater, soil, and surface water sampling.

In September 1984, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed the KSCIsite on the National Priorities List (NPL) through a Hazard Ranking System (HRS). Thisinclusion was based on the presence of organic compounds and heavy metals in soil andgroundwater beneath the site.

In 1988, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conducted aPreliminary Health Assessment for the site. This assessment concluded that the KSCI site posed apotential public health concern.

Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, Inc. (PBS&J), began conducting a Remedial Investigation (RI)for the site in July 1989. The RI is one of the early phases of the EPA's remedial process at anNPL site. The RI is intended to characterize the site and the site contamination.

PBS&J performed the first phase of field work during July 1989 and December 1990 andadditional field work from September to November 1991. The data used in this public healthassessment is primarily from the December 1991 RI report.

B. Site Visit

Doug Blansit, SCDHEC project staff, visited KSCI on October 30, 1990. Project staff, consistingof Doug Blansit and Yanqing Mo, conducted a site visit on July 2, 1991.

The 50-acre site area is relatively flat with 8 foot total relief (Figure 3). Topographically, the siteslopes slightly toward the southwest. The 16-acre tract is a broad open area covered with grassand bushes. The operations area is surrounded by an 8-foot high chain-link fence. There was anopening on the north side of the fence during the 1990 site visit that was repaired by the 1991visit.

The former mobile home park portion of the site is now a heavily wooded area. An "L"-shapedditch located in the center of the park is approximately 3 feet wide, 2-6 feet deep andapproximately 1,600 feet long (Figure 3). During the 1991 visit, we observed standing water inthe ditch to an approximate depth of 1 foot. The ditch and the pond 1 are both hidden withinheavy woods and not easily observable from small paths nearby. Pond 2 is in an open area. Bothpond 1 and 2 are individually enclosed by 8-foot high chain-link fences.

We observed shotgun shells and tracks of small animals during both visits and we also noticedbicycle tracks during the 1990 visit. We located a number of monitoring wells during the 1991visit that appeared to be in good condition.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

The KSCI site is located on Port Royal Island within 5 miles of the cities of Beaufort and PortRoyal in Beaufort County. Beaufort County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state ofSouth Carolina. The combined area of Beaufort County is 579 square miles with a 1990population estimate of 86,425 persons (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990). This ratio givesBeaufort County a substantially higher population density than the surrounding counties.

The U.S. Marine Corps Air Station is located approximately 1 mile to the east of KSCI. The1990 resident population at the Air Station was approximately 1,257 persons (U.S. Bureau of theCensus, 1990)

At the time of the 1990 Census, an estimated 2,550 persons lived within a 2-mile radius of thesite. A total of 480 persons lived within a mile (Table 1). The nearest residence is approximately100 yards north of the site. The remainder of the residences in the area are 1,000 feet or morefrom the site. The population density surrounding the site is predominantly to the north andnorthwest. There is a Day Care Center approximately 0.25 mile south of the site.

Residential housing in the area consists primarily of single family units and a number of mobilehomes. The census for this area indicate middle income households. About 6% of owner-occupied housing is worth less than $25,000 in 1990, while 23% of renter-occupied units wereunder $150 per month. The figures for renter-occupied units include subsidized housing of thosewho pay no cash rent.

Table 1.

Kalama Specialty Chemicals, Inc. Demographics
1990 US CENSUS DATA
A*. Demographics for 1-mile radius
Total Population: 478
        Median age: 25

B*. Demographics for 2-mile radius
Total Population: 2,550
        Median age: 27

 

Table 1.

Human Health Effects at Various Hydrogen Sulfide Concentrations in Air
%
White
%
Black
%
Other
%
<10
yrs
%
65+
yrs
%
Rental
Units
<$150/
month
**
%
Houses
<$25,000
%
Renter-
Occupied
A* 41 57 2 8 5 39 5 51
B* 43 55 221 5 23 6 34

** Percentage include all rentals; some subsidized housing includes those who pay no cash rent.

C. Beaufort County
          Total Population: 86,425

Land Use

The site is zoned commercial and the surrounding property is a combination of residential,commercial, industrial, agricultural, and military development. The area is sparsely to moderatelypopulated with residences located to the north and northwest, and in a large 1,000-unit housingdevelopment at Laurel Bay 2.5 miles to the southwest.

There are several other sites and facilities within 2-miles of the site. The Independent NailCompany and Wamchem Inc., both NPL sites, are located to the southwest and northwest ofKSCI, respectively. The abandoned Beaufort County landfill is located to the southwest of thesite, approximately 1,000 feet to the west of the Independent Nail Company. Across USHighway 21 (to the east of the site) is the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), which has a historyof fuel spills. Venture Chemical is an active chemical facility located to the north within 2 miles ofthe site.

Natural Resource Use

The site is located on a recharge area for the Floridan aquifer. The subsurface of the site isdivided into a water table aquifer and an underlying limestone aquifer, which is part of theFloridan Aquifer. The limestone aquifer provides over 80 percent of the groundwater for theLow Country of South Carolina (Hampton, Colleton, Jasper and Beaufort Counties). Thebusinesses and residences in this area are served by the Beaufort-Jasper Water Authority. TheJuly 1992 RI report states that "there are no drinking water wells installed into the water tableaquifer within 0.25 mile of the site". Six non-public water supply wells (CW, CW-PROD, CW-DRINK, GR, MAS and MASL) are shown in Figure 6. Wells CW and CW-PROD areproduction wells used by a concrete plant. CW-DRINK provides potable water for the employeesof the plant. GR is a local well, and wells MAS and MASL are located within MCAS property. No data currently exists regarding water usage of wells GR, MAS and MASL.

A forest borders the site on three sides and may provide an environment for wildlife, a source oflumber or pulpwood production, and a location for recreational hunting.

D. Health Outcome Data

We contacted the SCDHEC District Health office in September 1991 and they indicated that nostudies had been initiated as a result of public concerns regarding this site. Relevant healthoutcome data were not available for review because no one is exposed and no community healthconcerns exist.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

We found no indications of specific community health concerns through file review and discussionwith the SCDHEC district health officers. Complaints listed in the SCDHEC files for Vega/KSCIrelate to "noxious odors" emanating from the site. We could not locate any specific, descriptiveterms in the files to further describe the odors. These complaints are sporadic, relatively few innumber, and can be traced back to when Vega first began operating in 1973, until the KSCIclosed in 1983. We found no other documented complaints and no health concerns in the filesreviewed. Local health officials from the Beaufort County Health Department (BCHD) stated inSeptember 1992 that there were no current community complaints. BCHD has no records ofprevious clinic visits resulting from complaints of exposure to contaminants at the KSCI site. Wesearched files from both SCDHEC Wastewater and Emergency Response divisions, finding onlyanecdotal references to odor complaints. SCDHEC personnel conducted several site inspectionsfrom 1976 to 1979, and in 1988, to investigate the operation of the wastewater holding pond andin response to complaints regarding odors. PBS&J performed surface water sampling in 1979. Neither SCDHEC nor PBS&J could determine a cause for the odors.

The Kalama Specialty Chemicals, Inc. site Public Health Assessment was available for review andpublic comment from September 24, 1992 to October 26, 1992. Copies of the public healthassessment were available to the community/interested parties at the Beaufort City Library,Beaufort City Hall, and the Division of Health Hazard Evaluation at SCDHEC in Columbia. Additionally, news releases were sent to all the weekly and daily newspapers in the state, alltelevision networks in the state, the Associated Press, and the South Carolina Radio network. This comment period was intended to give the public and/or interested parties an opportunity tovoice additional concerns or make comments pertaining to the Kalama Specialty Chemicals, Inc.site Public Health Assessment. The office of Health Hazard Evaluation of the South CarolinaDepartment of Health and Environmental Control received comments during this period. Theresponse to these comments are included in Appendix C.



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