Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

PALMER BARGE LINE
PORT ARTHUR, JEFFERSON COUNTY, TEXAS


SUMMARY

The Palmer Barge Line site was proposed to the National Priorities List (NPL) on May 11, 2000.This site is located adjacent to the State Marine National Priorities List site 4 miles northeast ofPort Arthur, Jefferson County, Texas. The site encompasses approximately 17 acres of a smallpeninsula on the northwestern shore of Sabine Lake.

The site was used as a municipal landfill from 1956 until 1982 and was operated by a bargecleaning and maintenance company from 1982 to 1997. Palmer Barge's primary operationsconsisted of cleaning, maintenance, inspection, and degassing of barges and marine equipment.Operations at the site have resulted in the contamination of surface soil and sediment. The primarycontaminants of concern at the site include arsenic, benzo(a)pyrene, pentachlorophenol, heptachlor,bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, and 4, 4'-DDD.

The Texas Department of Health (TDH) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR) evaluated the environmental information available for the site and identified severalexposure pathways through which people may come into contact with site contaminants. Theseexposure pathways include possible contact with site contaminants in the sediment, surface soil, air,surface water, food chain, and groundwater. Exposure to contaminants in these media would not beexpected to cause adverse health effects either because the contaminant concentration is too low orcontact with the contaminant would be infrequent. Thus, based on available evidence the site doesnot pose a public health hazard. As per ATSDR guidance, we have categorized this as a "NoApparent Public Health Hazard" site because exposure to contaminants in some of these media isstill possible. ATSDR will review any additional information that becomes available and maychange the categorization of the Palmer Barge Line site, if warranted.


ATSDR PUBLIC HEALTH CONCLUSION CATEGORIES

CATEGORY A.
URGENT PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD
1

This category is used for sites where short-term exposures (<1 yr) to hazardous substances or conditions could result in adverse health effects that require rapid intervention.

Criteria:

Evaluation of available information2 indicates that site-specific conditions or likely exposures have had, are having, or are likely to have in the future, an adverse impact on human health and requires immediate action or intervention. Such site-specific conditions or exposures may include the presence of serious physical or safety hazards, such as open mine shafts, poorly stored or maintained flammable/explosive substances, or medical devices which, upon rupture, could release radioactive materials.

CATEGORY B.
PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD
1

This category is used for sites that pose a public health hazard due to the existence of long-term exposures(>1 yr) to hazardous substances or conditions that could result in adverse health effects.

Criteria:

Evaluation of available relevant information2 suggests that, under site-specific conditions of exposure, long-term exposures to site-specific contaminants (including radionuclides) have had, are having, or are likely to have in the future, an adverse impact on human health that requires one or more public health interventions. Such site-specific exposures may include the presence of serious physical hazards, such as open mine shafts, poorly stored or maintained flammable/explosive substances, or medical devices which, upon rupture, could release radioactive materials.

CATEGORY C.
INDETERMINATE PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD

This category is used for sites in which "critical" data are insufficient with regard to extent of exposure and/or toxicologic properties at estimated exposure levels.

Criteria:

The health assessor must determine, using professional judgement, the "criticality" of such data and the likelihood that the data can be obtained and will be obtained in a timely manner. Where some data are available, even limited data, the health assessor is encouraged to the extent possible to select other hazard categories and to support their decision with clear narrative that explains the limits of the data and the rationale for the decision.

CATEGORY D.
NO APPARENT PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD
1

This category is used for sites where human exposure to contaminated media may be occurring, may have occurred in the past, and/or may occur in the future, but the exposure is not expected to cause any adverse health effects.

Criteria:

Evaluation of available information2 indicates that, under site-specific conditions of exposure, exposures to site-specific contaminants in the past, present, or future are not likely to result in any adverse impact on human health.

CATEGORY E.
NO PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD

This category is used for sites that, because of the absence of exposure, do NOT pose a public health hazard.

Criteria:

Sufficient evidence indicates that no human exposures to contaminated media have occurred, none are now occurring, and none are likely to occur in the future.

1 This determination represents a professional judgement based on critical data which ATSDR has judged sufficientto support a decision. This does not necessarily imply that the available data are complete; in some cases additionaldata may be required to confirm or further support the decision made.

2 Such as environmental and demographic data; health outcome data; exposure data; community health concernsinformation; toxicologic, medical, and epidemiologic data.


INTRODUCTION

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was established under themandate of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act(CERCLA) of 1980. This act, also known as the "Superfund" law, authorized the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct clean-up activities at hazardous waste sites. EPA was directed to compile a list of sites considered hazardous to public health. This list is termedthe National Priorities List (NPL). The 1986 Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) directed ATSDR to prepare a Public Health Assessment (PHA) for each NPL site. In1990, federal facilities were included on the NPL. (Note: Appendix A provides a listing ofabbreviations and acronyms used in this report.)

In conducting the PHA, three types of information are used: environmental data, community healthconcerns and health outcome data. The environmental data are reviewed to determine whetherpeople in the community might be exposed to hazardous materials from the NPL facility. If peopleare being exposed to these chemicals, ATSDR will determine whether the exposure is at levels thatmight cause harm. Community health concerns are collected to determine whether health concernsexpressed by community members could be related to exposure to chemicals released from the NPLfacility. If the community raises concerns about specific diseases in the community, health outcomedata (information from state and local databases or health care providers) can be used to address thecommunity concerns. Also, if ATSDR finds that harmful exposures have occurred, health outcomedata can be used to determine if illnesses are occurring which could be associated with the hazardouschemicals released from the NPL facility.

In accordance with the Interagency Cooperative Agreement between ATSDR and the TexasDepartment of Health (TDH), ATSDR and TDH have prepared this PHA for the Palmer Barge LineNPL site. This PHA presents conclusions about whether exposures are occurring, and whether ahealth threat is present. In some cases, it is possible to determine whether exposures occurred in thepast; however, often a lack of appropriate historical data makes it difficult to quantify pastexposures. If it is found that a threat to public health exists, recommendations are made to stop or reduce the threat to public health.


BACKGROUND

Site Description and History

The Palmer Barge Line National Priorities List site is a former barge cleaning facility located onOld Yacht Club Road, Port Arthur, Jefferson County, Texas. The site is 4 miles northeast of PortArthur and encompasses approximately 17 acres of a small peninsula (Figure 2). The facility isbounded on the north by vacant property. The southern portion of the property is bounded by theState Marine (TXD099801102) National Priorities List site. To the west is Old Yacht Club Roadand on the eastern boundary is Sabine Lake and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The site is slightlyelevated at the western boundary and gradually slopes down toward the east (in the direction of thelake). The confluence of the Neches River and Sabine Lake is approximately mile northeast ofthe site.

The site was first used as a municipal landfill by the City of Port Arthur from 1956 until 1982. InApril 1982, Palmer Barge Line, Inc. purchased the site from the City of Port Arthur and operateduntil July 1997. Palmer Barge's primary operations consisted of cleaning, maintenance, inspection,and degassing of barges and marine equipment. Cleaning involved the pressure steaming of vesselholds, engines, and boilers to strip or remove sludges and liquids. Low pressure steam was producedby two diesel/mixed fuel boilers. Maintenance and inspection included the repair and/orreplacement of engines and valves. Degassing consisted of the removal of explosive vapors frombarge holds using nitrogen or boiler exhaust. A flare was used to burn off any excess gasses andliquids which were produced during the operations [1].

In December 1996, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) Region 10Field Office conducted a multimedia investigation of the Palmer Barge site to determine thefacility's compliance with the Federal Clean Air Act. In March 1998, the TNRCC Region 10 FieldOffice and EPA Region 6 personnel prepared a Preliminary Assessment/Screening Site Inspection(PA/SSI) for the Palmer site to identify waste source areas. On-site soil and Sabine Lake sedimentsamples were collected and analyzed. Metals, pesticides, and semi-volatile organic compounds(SVOC's) were detected.

In June 1999, as part of an Expanded Site Inspection (ESI), personnel from the TNRCC Region 10Field Office and personnel from Roy F. Weston, Inc. conducted a site inspection (reconnaissance). In July of that same year, the TNRCC Region 10 field office sampled above ground storage tanks(AST's), roll off boxes and some of the slop tanks for characterization purposes. An additional sitereconnaissance was conducted in August 1999, by TNRCC, Roy F. Weston, Inc. and EPA Region 6personnel. In October 1999, Weston, Inc. performed sampling of soil, sediment, and groundwater.

As a result of the ESI, the EPA has identified 10 sources of contamination [1] (Figure 1):

Source 1: contaminated soils in the Wastewater AST area.
Source 2: contaminated soils in the Boiler House area.
Source 3: contaminated soils in the Open-Top Slop Tank area.
Source 4: contaminated soils in the Horizontal AST area.
Source 5: contaminated soils in the 12 AST area.
Source 6: contaminated soils in the Flare area
Source 7: contaminated liquids in the wastewater ASTs
Source 8: contaminated liquids in the Boiler House ASTs
Source 9: contaminated liquids in the Horizontal ASTs
Source 10: contaminated liquids in the 12 ASTs

The site was proposed for inclusion on the NPL on May 11, 2000, and was included on the NPL onJuly 27, 2000.

Demographics

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1990 the total residential population within a one mileradius of the Palmer Barge site was estimated to be 10 people (Figure 2). Although few individualsreside in the area, approximately 400 people work on the peninsula [2]. Currently, the only workerson the site are people involved in the remediation of the site.

The residential neighborhood closest to the Palmer Barge site is approximately 1 miles northwestof the facility along the west side of State Highway 87. Other nearby residential areas include theCity of Groves (estimated population of 16,362 - July 2000) located 4 miles southwest of PalmerBarge, the City of Port Arthur (population 56,574) which is 4 miles to the southwest, Bridge City(population 8,034) located approximately 5 miles north of the site, and Port Neches (population13,981) which is approximately 8 miles west of Palmer Barge [3].

Land Use and Natural Resource Use

Currently there are approximately 11 industrial or commercial businesses on the peninsula withinone-mile of the site. These include a retail fuel dealer, a ship/boat builder, a boat repair facility, oilfield contractors, industrial building/warehouse contractors, scrap iron and metal dealers, andchemical product wholesalers [2]. There are no parks, recreational beaches, playgrounds, schools,hospitals, day cares, or nursing homes within one-mile of the site [2, 4].

The Palmer Barge site is located on the West Gulf Coastal Plain of the United States. Theconfluence of the Neches River and Sabine Lake occurs approximately mile north of the site. Adjacent to the eastern boundary of the site is Sabine Lake and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Sabine Lake covers approximately 68 square miles. The lake is considered an estuary and is undercoastal tidal influence. Water for the lake is received from the Neches and Sabine rivers anddischarged directly into the Gulf of Mexico. The average annual rainfall is 54 inches per year withmost occurring from May to September. The property elevation is higher on the western boundaryand gradually slopes toward the east. Surface water runoff is into Sabine Lake at the Palmer Bargebulkhead or dock. The site is also located in the 100-year flood plain [1].

In addition to being used for shipping, Sabine Lake, the Neches River, and the IntracoastalWaterway are used for commercial and recreational fishing. This area is popular because themixing of freshwater and salt water at the mouth of the Neches River results in a wide variety ofboth freshwater and salt water fish. Fish and shellfish captured annually from Sabine Lake has beenestimated at 650,000 pounds commercially and 20,000 pounds for recreational users [1]. Fishingalong the shoreline of the site has been documented by the TNRCC in May 1996 and observed byTDH in August 1998 [2]. No fishing was observed by the TNRCC or TDH during the site visit inFebruary 2001.

Site Visit

TDH personnel visited the Palmer Barge site (Figure 1) on February 7, 2001, along withrepresentatives from the TNRCC. We spent approximately three hours examining the site and thesurrounding area. All businesses in the vicinity are industrial and have the use of a public watersupply. At the time of the visit, access to the site was not restricted. There was a six-foot tall chainlink fence, topped with barbed wire, on the south and west property lines. The gate near thesouthwest corner of the site was open at the time of our visit. We did not see any fencing on thenorthern property line and access from the east (Sabine Lake) is unlimited. There was no evidencethat children or teenagers were frequenting the area. The weather during the site visit was sunny andwarm. We did not see any water ponding or runoff from the site during the visit.

At the site we observed numerous cranes, abandoned equipment, above ground storage tanks(ASTs), a boiler, a flare, an open pit area used during site remediation to neutralize liquid wastes, oil-stained ground, and general waste/debris around the dock area.


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION / PATHWAYS ANALYSIS / PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

Introduction

Exposure to, or contact with, chemical contaminants drive the ATSDR public health assessmentprocess. The release or disposal of chemical contaminants into the environment does not alwaysresult in exposure or contact. Chemicals only have the potential to cause adverse health effects ifpeople actually come into contact with them. People may be exposed to chemicals by breathing(inhalation), eating or drinking a substance containing the contaminant (ingestion) or by skin(dermal) contact with a substance containing the contaminant.

When people are exposed to chemicals, the exposure does not always result in adverse health effects. The type and severity of health effects that may occur in an individual from contact withcontaminants depend on the toxicologic properties of the contaminants; how much of thecontaminant to which the individual is exposed; how often and/or how long exposure is allowed tooccur; the manner in which the contaminant enters or contacts the body (breathing, eating, drinking,or skin/eye contact); and the number of contaminants to which an individual is exposed(combinations of contaminants). Once exposure occurs, characteristics such as age, sex, nutritionalstatus, genetics, life style, and health status of the exposed individual influence how the individualabsorbs, distributes, metabolizes, and excretes the contaminant. These factors and characteristicsinfluence whether exposure to a contaminant could or would result in adverse health effects.

As a preliminary step in assessing the potential health risks associated with contaminants at this site,we compared contaminant concentrations to health assessment comparison (HAC) values. HACvalues are media-specific contaminant concentrations that are used to screen contaminants forfurther evaluation. Non-cancer HAC values are called environmental media evaluation guides(EMEGs) or reference dose media evaluation guides (RMEGs), and are respectively based onATSDR's minimal risk levels (MRLs) or EPA's reference doses (RfDs). MRLs and RfDs areestimates of a daily human exposure to a contaminant that is unlikely to cause adverse non-cancerhealth effects. Cancer risk evaluation guides (CREGs) are based on EPA's chemical specific cancerslope factors and an estimated excess lifetime cancer risk of one-in-one-million persons exposed for alifetime. We used standard assumptions to calculate appropriate HAC values [5].

In some instances where water was involved, we compared contaminant concentrations in water toEPA's maximum contaminant levels (MCLs). MCLs are chemical-specific maximumconcentrations allowed in water delivered to the users of a public water system; they are consideredprotective of public health over a lifetime (70 years) of exposure at an ingestion rate of two liters perday. MCLs may be based on available technology and economic feasibility. Although MCLs onlyapply to public water supply systems, we often use them to help assess the public health implicationsof contaminants found in water from other sources.

While exceeding a HAC value does not necessarily mean that a contaminant represents a publichealth threat, it does suggest that the contaminant warrants further consideration. The public healthsignificance of contaminants that exceed HAC values may be assessed by reviewing and integratingrelevant toxicological information with plausible exposure situations. Estimated exposures may becompared to reported "No Observable" and "Lowest Observable" Adverse Effects Levels (NOAELsand LOAELs) and to known effect levels in humans, when available.

Environmental Contamination

Sediment, soil, and groundwater samples considered in this evaluation were collected in October1999. In reviewing these data, we relied on the information provided in the referenced documentsand assumed that adequate Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) measures were followedwith regard to chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting.

Samples were analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds(SVOCs), pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by Ecology & Environment. Theanalysis for inorganic compounds was performed by Sentinel, Inc. [4]. HAC values were used toscreen contaminants for further consideration (Appendix C, Tables 2 through 4). Contaminantsfound at concentrations below HAC values are not included in the tables. Inclusion of acontaminant in the tables or the fact that a contaminant exceeds a comparison value does not implythat a contaminant represents a threat to public health, but it is an indicator that the contaminantwarrants further evaluation.

Exposure Pathways

In this section we evaluated the possible pathways for exposure to contamination at the PalmerBarge site. We examined these possible exposure pathways to determine whether people near orworking at the site can be exposed to (or come into contact with) contaminants from the site. Exposure pathways consist of five elements: 1) a source of contamination; 2) transport through anenvironmental medium; 3) a point of exposure; 4) a plausible manner (route) for the contaminant toget into the body; and, 5) an identifiable receptor population. Exposure pathways are categorized ascompleted, potential, or eliminated pathways.

For a person to be exposed to a contaminant, the exposure pathway must be completed. Anexposure pathway is considered completed when all five elements in the pathway are present andexposure has occurred, is occurring, or will plausibly occur in the future. A potential pathway ismissing at least one of the five elements, but may be considered completed in the future as moredata become available or site conditions change. Eliminated pathways are missing one or more ofthe five elements and will never be completed. The exposure pathways considered in our evaluation of this site are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1.

Evaluation of Exposure Pathways
Palmer Barge Line - Port Arthur, Texas
Pathway Name Contaminants of Concern Source Transport Media Point of Exposure Route of Exposure Exposed Population Time Comments
Sediment
(potential)
Arsenic Site operations Sediment Off site Incidental ingestion,
dermal contact
People wading or swimming in Sabine Lake Past
Present
Future
No apparent public health hazard.
It is unlikely that people would be exposed to contaminants in the sediment at sufficient concentrations often enough to present a health concern.
Surface Soil
(past complete)
(present eliminated)
Benzo(a)pyrene
Pentachlorophenol
Heptachlor
Arsenic
Bis(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate
Site operations Soil On site Incidental ingestion,
dermal contact
Trespassers,
workers
Past
Present
No apparent public health hazard.
It is unlikely that people would be exposed to contaminants in the soil at sufficient concentrations often enough to present a health concern.
Surface Water
(incomplete)
No data Site operations Surface water,
site run-off
Off site Incidental ingestion,
dermal contact
People wading, swimming, or fishing in Sabine Lake Past
Present
Future
No apparent public health hazard.
It is unlikely that people would be exposed to contaminants in the surface water at sufficient concentrations often enough to present a health concern.
Air
(incomplete)
No data Site operations Air On site Inhalation Trespassers,
Workers
Present No public health hazard.
The site is no longer operating and the source areas have been contained, exposure to contaminants in the air at sufficient concentrations to result in adverse health conditions is not likely.
Foodchain
(eliminated)
None Identified Site operations,
spills
Fish, crabs, shrimp, oysters, clams mussels Off site area around and downstream of facility Ingestion Commercial and recreational harvesting of fish/shellfish in the lake area and downstream of site Past
Present
Future
No public health hazard.
Historic data collected by the TDH did not find contaminants in the seafood at concentrations high enough to pose a health hazard.
Groundwater
(eliminated)
Arsenic,
4, 4'-DDD
Site operations,
spills
Groundwater None identified None identified None identified Past
Present
Future
No public health hazard.
Based on available information there is no evidence of exposure.

Evaluation of Possible Sediment Exposure Pathways

Summary: Exposure to contaminants found in the sediment at this site would not be expected to result in adverse health effects. Although accessto the sediment is not restricted, we do not consider exposure to site contaminants in sediment either through ingestion or dermal contact, to be asignificant exposure pathway since: 1) the probability of ingesting contaminated sediment is low, 2) the frequency and duration of any contactwith contaminated sediment would be low, and 3) the surface area of the skin that would be likely to contact the sediment would probably besmall.

Sediment samples were collected in October 1999 from Sabine Lake to identify the presence of anysite-related contaminants. Twenty-two samples were collected from the lake in a boat using asediment sampling device. Seventeen of the sediment samples collected were adjacent to the site. Because a barge was moored at the dock during the sampling period, samples could only becollected at the north and south ends of the dock. Five background sediment samples were collectedfrom the southeast side of Stewts Island, an island located approximately 4,000 to 5,000 feetnortheast of the Palmer Barge site. This portion of Sabine Lake does not receive any runoff from thePalmer site [1].

Arsenic was detected in all seventeen samples at concentrations ranging from 2.5 mg/kg (milligramsper kilograms) to 12.3 mg/kg. Although these concentrations are above the carcinogenic riskscreening value (Appendix C, Table 2), they are within the normal background levels found in theeastern United States [6]. Since this is not an area where people would be likely to walk withoutshoes or boots, we do not consider dermal contact to be an important route of exposure. Chronicingestion (100 milligrams per day for a lifetime) of sediment containing the maximum reportedvalue of 12.3 mg/kg arsenic would result in no apparent increased lifetime risk for cancer. Since theprobability of a person regularly ingesting sediment from this area is extremely remote, and theaverage levels to which a person might be exposed would be lower, the actual risks would be lower. Based on available information, exposures are not at levels expected to cause adverse health effects.

Evaluation of Possible Surface Soil Exposure Pathways

Summary: Exposure to contaminants found in the soil at this site would not be expected to resultin adverse health effects. Although access to the site is not restricted, we do not considerexposure to contaminants in the soil either through ingestion or dermal contact to be asignificant exposure pathway since: 1) the number of people accessing the site is limited, 2) theprobability of regularly ingesting contaminated soil is low, 3) the frequency and duration of anycontact with contaminated soil would likely be low, and 4) the surface area of skin likely to comeinto regular contact with contaminated soil is likely to be small.

Soil at the Palmer Barge site is considered to be fill material and is primarily a result of dredgingoperations conducted from Sabine Lake and the Intracoastal Waterway [4]. The soil at the site isnot considered suitable for cultivation [1]. Soil sampling was conducted using a Geoprobe® andhand auger in October 1999. Samples were collected at 0 to 2 feet below ground surface and 2 to 4feet below ground surface. Background soil samples were collected near the northwest corner of theproperty, the furthest location from where site operations occurred. Benzo(a)pyrene,pentachlorophenol, heptachlor, arsenic, and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate each exceeded theirrespective carcinogenic risk screening values (Appendix C, Table 3). Arsenic, antimony, lead, andpentachlorophenol exceeded their non-cancer screening values for children, but because it is notlikely that children would regularly come into contact with soil from this site, these contaminantswere excluded from further consideration with respect to non-cancer effects.

In the past, on-site workers and trespassers could have come in contact with contaminated soil. Using a reasonable maximum exposure scenario for workers, we estimate that there would be noapparent increased lifetime risk for cancer. The worker exposure scenario involved the ingestion of50 milligrams of soil containing the maximum reported concentration, if only one sample wasavailable, or the average concentration detected in the 0-2' samples if multiple samples wereavailable. We assumed that exposure would occur 250 days per year for 30 years. Based onavailable information, exposures are not at levels expected to cause adverse health effects.

Evaluation of Possible Surface Water Exposure Pathway

Summary: Although surface water sampling data were not available, we estimate that thepossible presence of contaminants in the surface water would not be expected to cause adversehealth effects because: 1) the probability of regularly ingesting surface water is low, 2) thefrequency and duration of any contact with surface water is likely to be low, and 3) the surfacearea of the skin that would regularly be in contact with the water would be small.

Surface water in the vicinity of Palmer Barge is brackish and therefore not potable. No publicdrinking water intakes are located within 15 miles downstream of the site [4]. Businesses on thepeninsula get drinking water from the City of Port Arthur municipal water supply. The city drawsits water from the Neches River approximately 15 miles upstream from the Palmer Barge site. Thesurface water is conveyed through a canal system to a municipal water treatment plant. The plant islocated approximately 8 miles southwest of the Palmer Barge site [7].

Following a rainfall, surface water run-off will flow from the western portion of the site into SabineLake at the bulkhead or dock [4].

Although surface water sampling data for the lake was not available for review, swimming and otherrecreational activities in the vicinity of the Palmer Barge site are not likely due to ship traffic. Whilefishing from boats does occur near the site, actual exposure to contaminants through dermal contactor incidental ingestion during these activities would be limited. Since it is unlikely that peoplewould be exposed to contaminants in the water often enough at sufficient concentrations to be ahealth concern, based on available information, exposures are not at levels expected to cause adversehealth effects.

Evaluation of Possible Air Exposure Pathway

Summary: At present, exposure to contaminants through inhalation does not pose a publichealth hazard. Although information pertaining to contaminant concentrations in the air is notavailable, currently the site is not operating and possible source areas are being contained. Because of the lack of historic ambient air data, past exposure to contaminants in the air isconsidered to be an indeterminate public health hazard.

Air sampling data and historical air releases from the Palmer Barge facility were not available forreview. Volatilization of chemicals at the Palmer Barge site in the AST's, Open-Top Slop tanks,chemical overflows and spills could have occurred during the time the facility was operating. Thepotentially exposed population would have consisted of on-site workers. Due to the lack ofhistorical air sampling data, we could not assess the potential public health significance of pastexposure through the air. Currently, the site is not operating and source areas are being contained. Thus, on-site remedial workers would be the only population potentially at risk from currentexposure to contaminants in the air. Although air data were not available for review, remedialworkers following an approved site safety plan should not be at risk. Because the site is no longeroperating and source areas are being contained, we have concluded that the air pathway currentlydoes not pose a public health hazard.

Evaluation of Possible Food Chain Exposure Pathway

Summary: Exposure to site contaminants through the ingestion of seafood does not pose a publichealth hazard. The TDH Seafood Safety Division has been sampling seafood from Sabine Lakesince the 1970s. Based on the results of the most recent sampling events conducted in 1994 theTDH Seafood Safety Division did not find reason to issue a fish consumption advisory for thisarea.

Sabine Lake, a fishery for both commercial and recreational users, in the vicinity of the PalmerBarge site, is heavily fished. Fish are caught both for sport and human consumption. The types offish caught include flounder, black drum, and sheepshead. Crustaceans such as blue crabs and brown, pink, and white shrimp also are taken.

Since 1985, the commercial harvesting of molluscan shellfish (oysters, clams, and mussels) inSabine Lake has been prohibited by the Texas Department of Health [8]. The most recent orderprohibiting shellfish harvesting was issued by the TDH on November 1, 2000 [9]. The closure isnot due to chemical contaminants but to differences between the states of Texas and Louisiana in thedetermination and classification of molluscan shellfish growing areas in Sabine Lake [10].

The Texas Department of Health Seafood Safety Division has been periodically collecting fish andshellfish samples from Sabine Lake since 1970 [11]. The most recent finfish sampling occurred in1994 when samples were analyzed for VOCs, semi-VOCs, metals, pesticides, and dioxins. Thesesamples were unremarkable and did not result in the issuance of any fish consumption advisories. Based on the historic fish sampling data collected by the TDH, we have concluded that this pathwaydoes not pose a public health hazard.

Evaluation of Possible Groundwater Exposure Pathway

Summary: Contaminants found in the groundwater beneath this site do not pose a public healthhazard because the groundwater is not used for drinking or other potable purposes. Businessesand residents on the peninsula obtain their drinking water from the City of Port Arthurmunicipal water supply.

The principal groundwater source in the area of the Palmer Barge site is the Gulf Coast Aquifer. The water quality of this aquifer is fresh to saline and contains less than 1,000 mg/L (milligrams perliter) of total dissolved solids. Within a four-mile radius of the site, the groundwater ranges fromtwo to 60 feet in depth. The shallowest on-site water bearing zone is estimated to be four feet belowthe ground surface. Direction of groundwater flow was not determined [4].

Groundwater within one mile of the Palmer Barge site is not used for drinking or other potable uses. The nearest domestic well is located approximately one mile from the site and there are 33 private,public, and industrial wells within a four-mile radius of the site [4]. Businesses on the peninsula gettheir drinking water from the City of Port Arthur municipal water supply [2]. On September 21,1998, TDH staff conducted a door-to-door survey of two households and eleven businesses on thepeninsula in the vicinity of the site. All reported using municipal or bottled water for drinking andother potable purposes. No one reported using or having a water well.

No monitoring wells are installed on the site. Groundwater samples were collected 8 to 10 feetbelow ground surface from borings. Two samples were collected on the eastern portion of the sitenear the wastewater ASTs and the twelve ASTs. One background sample was collected from thenorthwestern portion of the property.

Arsenic and 4,4'-DDD were found at concentrations above their respective carcinogenic riskscreening values (Appendix C; Table 4). Arsenic, barium, chromium, iron, lead, manganese, andvanadium were found at concentrations above their respective non-cancer screening values. Sinceno one is consuming groundwater from wells near the site, this is an incomplete exposure pathway. Since there is no human exposure, any groundwater contamination at the Palmer Barge site would not pose a public health hazard.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS / HEALTH OUTCOME DATA

Community Health Concerns Evaluation

As part of the public health assessment process, ATSDR and TDH try to learn what concerns peoplein the area may have about the impact of the site on their health. Consequently, attempts were madeto actively gather information and comments from people who live or work near the site. To collectcommunity health concerns related to the Palmer Barge site, we contacted several different agenciesand individuals by telephone. These agencies included the regional offices of both the TexasDepartment of Health (TDH Region 6/5 South), the Texas Natural Resource ConservationCommission (TNRCC Region 10), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Region 6). Inaddition to state and federal agencies, we contacted local health department staff and local citizens. No health concerns were identified relating to the Palmer Barge site.

Health Outcome Data Evaluation

Health outcome data (HOD) record certain health conditions that occur in populations. These datacan provide information on the general health of communities living near a hazardous waste site. They also can provide information on patterns of specified health conditions. Some examples ofhealth outcome databases are tumor registries, birth defects registries, and vital statistics. Information from local hospitals and other health care providers also may be used to investigatepatterns of disease in a specific population. TDH and ATSDR look at appropriate and availablehealth outcome data when there is a completed exposure pathway or community concern. Due to alack of adequate exposure information on possible past completed exposure pathways, the relativesmall size of the potentially exposed population, and no identified community health concerns at thistime, we did not review health outcome data for this site.

Child Health Initiative

ATSDR's Child Health Initiative recognizes that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and childrendemand special emphasis in communities faced with contamination of their water, soil, air, or food. Children are at greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposures to hazardous substancesemitted from waste sites and emergency events. They are more likely to be exposed because theyplay outdoors and they often bring food into contaminated areas. They are shorter than adults,which means they breathe dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground. Children are alsosmaller, resulting in higher doses of chemical exposure per body weight. The developing bodysystems of children can sustain permanent damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growthstages. Most importantly, children depend completely on adults for risk identification andmanagement decisions, housing decision, and access to medical care.

We evaluated the likelihood for children living in the vicinity of the Palmer Barge site to be exposedto site contaminants at levels of health concern and determined that it is unlikely that children would regularly be exposed to site-related contaminants.


CONCLUSIONS

  1. Although site-related contaminants have been detected in various environmental media,currently there are no identifiable situations where exposure to site contaminants is occurringat levels that would be associated with adverse health effects. This is either becausecontaminant concentrations are not great enough to be a public health hazard, becauseexposure to contaminated media would be infrequent, or because contaminated media arenot accessible for contact. Based on available information, exposures are not at levelsexpected to cause adverse health effects. As per ATSDR guidance, since exposure tocontaminants in some of these media is still possible, we have categorized this as a "NoApparent Public Health Hazard" site.

  2. In addition to the chemical contaminants, the site does have some physical hazardsassociated with an abandoned industrial business. Although the site is located in an area that the general public is not likely to frequent, it is still accessible to trespassers.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN

Actions Recommended

  1. Completely fence the site and post danger signs.

  2. Allow only authorized personnel access to the site.

Actions Planned

  1. EPA will conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) of the site. The RI/FS is tentatively scheduled to start in the Summer of 2001 [12].

  2. TDH will review any additional environmental sampling results as they become available.

PREPARERS OF THE REPORT

Tom Ellerbee
Health Assessor
Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology Division

John F. Villanacci, Ph.D.
Co-Director
Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology Division


ATSDR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Jennifer Lyke
Regional Representative
ATSDR - Region 6, Dallas, Texas


ATSDR TECHNICAL PROJECT OFFICER

Robert B. Knowles
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
State Programs Section


CERTIFICATION

This Palmer Barge Line Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Texas Department of Healthunder a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the health assessment was initiated.

Robert B. Knowles
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR


The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment and concurs with its findings.

Roberta Erlwein
Chief, State Programs Section, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR


REFERENCES

  1. Hazard Ranking System (HRS) Documentation Record, Palmer Barge Line Site. TXD068104561. May 3, 2000.

  2. Public Health Assessment for State Marine of Port Arthur. Port Arthur, Jefferson County, Texas. CERCLIS No. TXD099801102 . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,Public Health Service. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. July 30, 1999.

  3. Population Estimates for Cities with Populations of 10,000 and Greater. PopulationEstimates Program, Population Division. U.S. Census Bureau. Internet Website. www.census.gov Washington, D.C. Internet release date: October 20, 2000.

  4. Expanded Site Inspection Report. Palmer Barge Line Site. Port Arthur, Jefferson County, Texas. CERCLA ID No. TXD068104561 Prepared by Roy F. Weston, Inc. for the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6. January 2000.

  5. ATSDR Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual. 1993.

  6. ATSDR Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual. Table 5.1. 1993.

  7. Texas Department of Health Record of Communication with Clyde Trahan, Port WaterUtilities. March 19, 2002.

  8. Texas Department of Health Record of Communication with Mike Ordner, TDH SeafoodSafety Division. January 18, 2001.

  9. Texas Department of Health. Seafood Safety Division. Classification of ShellfishHarvesting Areas of Sabine Lake. November 1, 2000. Order Number MR-795.

  10. Texas Department of Health Record of Communication with Gary Heideman, TDH Seafood Safety Division. April 26, 2001.

  11. Fish Tissue Sampling Data 1970 - 1997. Texas Department of Health. Seafood SafetyDivision.

  12. Superfund Site Status Summaries - Texas. www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6sf/6sf-tx.htm EPA Publication Date: April 9, 2001.

APPENDICES

APPENDIX A.

ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
ASTs Above ground Storage Tanks
ATSDR Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
CERCLA Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980
CREG Carcinogenic Risk Evaluation Guide
EMEG Environmental Media Evaluation Guide
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
ESI Expanded Site Inspection
HAC Value Health Assessment Comparison Value
HOD Health Outcome Data
HRS Hazard Ranking System
LOAEL Lowest Observable Adverse Effects Level
MCL Maximum Contaminant Level
mg/kg milligrams per kilogram
mg/L milligrams per liter
MRL Minimal Risk Level
NOAEL No Observable Adverse Effects Level
NPL National Priorities List
PA/SSI Preliminary Assessment/Screening Site Inspection
PCBs Polychlorinated biphenyls
PHA Public Health Assessment
QA/QC Quality Assurance/Quality Control
RfD Reference Dose
RI/FS Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study
RMEG Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide
SARA Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986
SVOCs Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds
TDH Texas Department of Health
TNRCC Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
TPWD Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
VOCs Volatile Organic Compounds


APPENDIX B - FIGURES

On-Site Contamination Sources
Figure 1. On-Site Contamination Sources

General Site Location and Demographic Information
Figure 2. General Site Location and Demographic Information


APPENDIX C - TABLES

Table 2.

Sediment Sampling Palmer Barge Line Company NPL Site October 1999 Constituents exceeding Health Assessment Comparison (HAC) value
Constituent # detected
per total
# samples
Range
(mg/kg)
HAC Value
(mg/kg)
Arsenic 17/17 2.5 L - 12.3 0.5 CREG
20 child / 200 adult - chronic EMEG & RMEG

L - reported concentration is below the Contract Required Quantitation Limit


Table 3.

Soil Sampling Palmer Barge Line Company NPL Site - October 1999 Constituents exceeding Health Assessment Comparison (HAC) value
Constituent Sample Depth
(feet)
# detected
per total
# samples
Range
(mg/kg)
HAC value
(mg/kg)
Wastewater AST Area  
Benzo(a)pyrene 0' to 2' 2/6 n.d. - 0.38 J 0.1 CREG
2' to 4' 1/6 n.d. - 240 J
Pentachlorophenol 0' to 2' 2/6 n.d. - 200 6 CREG
50 child / 700 adult - chronic EMEG & intermediate EMEG
2000 child / 20000 adult - RMEG
2' to 4' 1/6 n.d. - 570 J
Lead 0' to 2' 6/6 10.6 - 425 400 - EPA Soil Lead Hazard
2' to 4' 6/6 5 - 1980
Heptachlor 0' to 2' 2/6 n.d. - 1.0 0.2 CREG
30 child / 400 adult - RMEG
2' to 4' 0/6 n.d.
Boiler House ASTs  
Benzo(a)pyrene 0' to 2' 2/6 n.d. - 0.36 0.1 CREG
2' to 4' 1/2 n.d. - 0.28
Antimony 0' to 2' 5/6 n.d. - 36.7 Jv 20 child / 300 adult - RMEG
2' to 4' 2/2 n.d. - 13.7 LJv
Arsenic 0' to 2' 6/6 3.8 - 86.5 0.5 CREG
20 child / 200 adult - chronic EMEG & RMEG
2' to 4' 2/2 6.9 - 43 J
Lead 0' to 2' 6/6 72.7 - 5050 400 - EPA Residential Soil Lead Hazard for children
2' to 4' 2/2 27.8 - 1530 J
Open Top Slop Tanks  
Benzo(a)pyrene 0'-2' 3/4 0.12 LJ - 46 LJ 0.1 CREG
Horizontal ASTs  
bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate 0'-2' 2/4 0.14 LJ - 74 50 CREG
500 child / 7000 - adult intermediate EMEG
Twelve ASTs  
Arsenic 0' to 2' 6/6 3.8 - 19.6 0.5 CREG
20 child / 200 adult - chronic EMEG & RMEG
2' to 4' 0 n.d.
Lead 0' to 2' 6/6 24.8 - 3450 400 EPA Residential Soil Lead Hazard for children
2' to 4' 0 n.d.

J - Estimated value. n.d. - not detected
Jv - Estimated value and low biased. Actual concentration may be higher than the concentration reported.
LJ - Reported concentration is between the Instrument Detection Limit and the Contract Required Detection Limit.
LJv - Reported concentration is between the Instrument Detection Limit and the Contract Required Detection Limit. Estimated value and low biased.


Table 4.

Groundwater Sampling Palmer Barge Line Company NPL Site October 1999 Constituents exceeding Health Assessment Comparison (HAC) value
Constituent # detected
per total
# samples
Range
(µg/L)
HAC Value
(µg/L)
Arsenic 1/2 n.d. - 45.5 J 0.2 CREG
3 child / 10 adult - chronic EMEG & RMEG
50 MCL - National Primary Drinking Water Standard
Barium 2/2 1490 Jv - 1580 Jv 700 child / 2000 adult - RMEG
2000 MCL & LTHA
Chromium 1/2 n.d. - 69.7 J 30 child / 100 adult - RMEG
Iron 2/2 53400 J - 102000 Jv 300 - National Secondary Drinking Water Standard
Lead 1/2 n.d. - 1000 J 15 - National Primary Drinking Water Standard
Manganese 2/2 700 Jv - 12200 Jv 500 child / 2000 adult RMEG
Vanadium 1/2 n.d. - 42 L 30 child / 100 adult - intermediate EMEG
4,4-DDD 1/2 n.d. - 0.14 J 0.1 CREG

n.d. - not detected
J - estimated value
Jv - Estimated value and low biased. Actual concentration may be higher than the concentration reported.
L - reported concentration is below the Contract Required Quantitation Limit


APPENDIX D - PUBLIC COMMENTS RECEIVED AND RESPONSES

Comments were received from two individuals during the public comment period for the Palmer BargeLine Public Health Assessment.

Commentor #1 stated, "... include a recommendation for fencing of the site completely, posting danger signs around the site, and limiting access to remediation personnel only."

[RESPONSE] Recommendations from Commentor #1 are included in the Public Health Action Plan.

Commentor #2 stated, "Why was there no testing for mercury?"

[RESPONSE] Groundwater, sediment and soil samples were tested for mercury. Some groundwaterand soil samples had levels of mercury which were above background concentration. Sedimentsamples were not above background concentration. None of these samples exceeded the Agency forToxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) health comparison value for mercury.

"Why are wells within four miles of Palmer Barge Line discussed in terms of groundwatercontamination, while neither the canal nor the treatment plant are considered?"

[RESPONSE] Groundwater contamination is discussed as it is a potential transport media for whichhuman exposure to chemical contaminants could occur. At the present time no human exposure topotential groundwater contamination is occurring.

Water from Sabine Lake, on which the Palmer Barge Line site is located, is not used for drinkingwater purposes. The city of Port Arthur water supply is obtained from the Neches River, north ofBeaumont, Texas. The surface water intakes are located approximately 15 miles upstream(northwest) from the Palmer Barge Line site.

The Lower Neches Valley Authority (LVNA) canal system conveys surface water from the river to theCity of Port Arthur water treatment plant. The LVNA canal system ends approximately 3 miles westof Sabine Lake and is approximately 8 miles southwest of the Palmer Barge Line site. The watertreatment plant is also the same approximate distances from the lake and the site. The canal systemand the water treatment plant are not considered as a potential exposure point for contaminationfrom the Palmer Barge site.

"Was the finfish sampling done in close proximity to the Palmer Barge Line?"

[RESPONSE] Finfish samples were collected from Sabine Lake near the southwestern portion ofStewts Island. This island is located approximately 3,500 to 4,000 feet northeast of the Palmer BargeLine site. Additional samples were collected from areas further south of the site. Reference to TexasDepartment of Health, Fish Tissue Sampling Data 1970 - 1997, Seafood Safety Division has been cited in the Public Health Assessment.

"Did finfish testing include mercury, lead, arsenic or any other contaminant found in the samplesfrom the Palmer Barge Line?"

[RESPONSE] Finfish samples included testing for metals such as arsenic, lead, and mercury. Thesamples were also tested for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds(SVOCs), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

"What about shellfish specifically from the Palmer Barge Line area of Sabine Lake?"

[RESPONSE] The most recent shellfish sampling in the area of Palmer Barge Line occurred on June8, 1994. Shellfish chemical analysis included testing for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and metals.

"Were the samples from the nearby sediment of Sabine Lake tested for anything besidesArsenic?"

[RESPONSE] Sediment samples were analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and metals. Arsenic was the only constituent in the sediment samples which exceeded its carcinogenic riskscreening value.

"What about sediment from the portion of Sabine Lake where surface water runs off?"

[RESPONSE] At the time of the sediment sampling, October 1999, a barge was moored at the site. Sediment samples were collected from Sabine Lake at the northern and southern ends of the dock. Surface water runoff would have entered the lake at the sediment sampling points.



Table of Contents

  
 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #