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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

COMMENCEMENT BAY, SOUTH TACOMA FIELD
(a/k/a COMMENCEMENT BAY, SOUTH TACOMA CHANNEL)
TACOMA, PIERCE COUNTY, WASHINGTON

CONCLUSIONS

The South Tacoma Field site poses a public health hazard to recreationalists/trespassers who repeatedly ingest surface soils, surface water, and sediments contaminated with arsenic, copper, lead, manganese, carcinogenic PAHs, and PCBs at concentrations of health concern. Frequent exposure of recreationalists/trespassers to these site contaminants may result in noncarcinogenic and carcinogenic health effects.

Frequent exposure of children for long periods of time to arsenic in surface soils at the BNR Dismantling Yard, BNR Railyard, and Amsted sampling units may cause noncarcinogenic health effects. Adverse effects associated with chronic exposure to arsenic are gastrointestinal irritation, hyperpigmentation, keratosis, and vascular complications. In addition, long-term exposure of recreationalists/trespassers to arsenic-contaminated surface soils at the BNR Dismantling Yard unit could result in a low increased risk of developing skin cancer over a lifetime. Internal cancer of the bladder, kidney, liver, and lung have also been associated with long-term arsenic exposure.

Recreationalists/trespassers may also experience gastrointestinal irritation from short-term exposure to copper in surface soils at the Amsted sampling unit. Manganese were found at concentrations of health concern in surface soils at the Amsted and TIP sampling units. Frequent exposure of children for long periods of time to manganese in surface soils of these units may result in neurological effects. Children, particularly sensitive individuals, may develop immunological effects should frequent exposure to PCBs in surface soils at the BNR Railyard sampling unit occur for long periods of time.

Lead concentrations were found elevated in surface soils, surface water, and sediments throughout the site. Comparatively, BNR Dismantling Yard, BNR Railyard, and Amsted sampling units had significantly high lead concentrations in surface soils. Whether recreationalists/trespassers could experience adverse health effects from lead exposure depends largely on the individual's pre-existing blood lead level, and whether exposure at the site could elevate pre-existing blood lead to levels at which health effects have been observed. Young children tend to be more susceptible to lead absorption and toxicity than adults. For them, exposure to even low concentrations of lead over an extended period of time can result in long-term health effects, such as learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, and impaired hearing should their blood lead be elevated from other lead sources. Adults with elevated blood lead levels may experience increased blood pressure, and impairment of hearing, vision, and muscle coordination. Though pre-existing and actual blood lead levels for recreationalists/trespassers are not known, frequent exposure to highly contaminated media for long periods of time are likely to result in noncarcinogenic effects, particularly for individuals with blood lead levels already elevated from exposure by other lead sources. Although the lifetime cancer risk cannot be predicted for lead, long-term exposure of recreationalists/trespassers to highly contaminated media could potentially increase the risk of developing cancer.

Trespassers can be exposed to carcinogenic PAHs should they come in contact with sediments during recreational activities at the site. Long-term exposure of recreationalists/trespassers to carcinogenic PAHs in sediments could cause a low increased risk of developing cancer over a lifetime.

Potentially, future development of the South Tacoma Field site could pose a public health hazard to workers and recreationalists/trespassers through exposure to contaminants in groundwater and subsurface soils. Groundwater contamination has been identified primarily in four localized areas of the site. Should new industrial supply wells be installed in these areas, workers may be exposed to groundwater contaminants that could cause adverse health effects. Subsurface soil contamination discovered at the site involves inorganics, PCBs, and PAHs. Future development, such as construction of new industrial facilities, can disturb subsurface soils exposing contaminants. During excavation projects, workers can be exposed to contaminants should contaminated subsurface soils be uncovered. Additionally, recreationalists/trespassers may encounter uncovered contaminated subsurface soils, exposing themselves to soil contaminants that could possibly cause adverse health effects.

Groundwater contamination has been observed in off-site background and upgradient wells; however, the actual extent of contamination is not known. Should new public and private (residential and industrial) supply wells be installed accessing the contaminated aquifer, workers and residents could be exposed to groundwater contaminants. Exposure of workers and residents could also occur should migration of groundwater contamination impact existing public and private supply wells.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Cease/Reduce Exposure Recommendations

  1. Due to elevated concentrations of lead, copper, arsenic, and manganese, public access to the Amsted sampling unit should remain restricted and site security properly maintained.
  2. Due to elevated concentrations of manganese, public access to the TIP sampling unit should remain restricted and site security properly maintained.
  3. Due to elevated concentrations of lead, arsenic, and PCBs, public access to the BNR Railyard sampling unit should be restricted and security properly maintained.
  4. Due to elevated concentrations of lead and arsenic, public access to the BNR Dismantling Yard sampling unit should be restricted and security properly maintained.
  5. Due to elevated concentrations of lead and carcinogenic PAHs, public access to the site's surface water and sediments should be restricted and security properly maintained.
  6. Maintain present groundcover, vegetation and asphalt, that reduces exposure to and migration of contaminated surface soils and soil dust in the Amsted, TIP, BNR Railyard, and BNR Dismantling Yard sampling units.
  7. Implement institutional controls to prohibit installation of private (industrial) supply wells in areas of on-site groundwater contamination.
  8. Implement institutional controls to restrict excavation activities in areas of on-site subsurface soil contamination.
  9. Inform public and private (industrial and residential) supply well owners in the vicinity of off-site groundwater contamination of the potential for exposure to contaminated groundwater.
  10. Monitor groundwater periodically from existing public and private supply wells in the vicinity of off-site groundwater contamination.
  11. Analyze groundwater from any public and private supply wells that may be installed in the future within the vicinity of off-site groundwater prior to domestic or industrial use.
  12. Review monitoring data generated during remediation to reevaluate public health implications posed by the site.

Health Activities Recommendation Panel Recommendations

The data and information developed in the Public Health Assessment for the South Tacoma Field Superfund site have been evaluated by the ATSDR Health Activities Recommendation Panel for follow-up health actions. This panel recommends the following health action:

  1. Continue community health education activities to assist the community in understanding their potential for exposure and how to prevent or mitigate the effects of exposure to contaminants at the South Tacoma Field site.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

Actions Undertaken

  1. Amsted Industries under EPA oversight restricted public access to the Amsted unit by securing the unit with a 6-foot chain-linked fence with a locking gate.
  2. EPA has attempted to restrict public access to the site through fencing and posting. However, fencing as a method of access restriction has not been successful in stopping trespassers from entering the site.
  3. EPA, jointly with Washington Department of Ecology and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, has provided the community with information regarding the South Tacoma Field Superfund site since 1987. EPA has advised the public to discontinue using the site for recreational purposes due to contaminants identified at the site.

Actions Planned

  1. The Record of Decision for the South Tacoma Field site was approved by EPA in September of 1994. This document presents the selected remedy for cleanup of soil and groundwater contamination at the site. The selected remedies include:
    1. Solidification treatment with consolidation and capping of soils, with the hotspot treatment level set for arsenic at 570 mg/kg, copper at 45,000 mg/kg, lead at 18,000 mg/kg, and total carcinogenic PAHs at 50 mg/kg.
    2. Off-site incineration of soils with PCB concentrations above 50 mg/kg.
    3. Excavation, consolidation, and capping of soil, with the treatment level set for arsenic at 200 mg/kg, lead at 1,000 mg/kg, total carcinogenic PAHs at 20 mg/kg, and total PCBs at 10 mg/kg. Excavation of soil would be limited to a maximum of one foot. Should subsurface soils still exceed soil cleanup levels, property owners can choose to continue excavation until contaminant concentrations in soil are below soil cleanup levels required for capping.
    4. Institutional controls to prohibit activities that may lead to exposure to contaminants in on-site soils and groundwater.
    5. Monitoring of groundwater, surface water, and sediments. The monitoring program will be reviewed every five years to determine whether additional actions are required.
    6. Air sparging and in situ vapor extraction treatment of contaminated subsurface soil and groundwater on the Pioneer Builders Supply property.
    7. Off-site incineration and disposal of contaminated soils exceeding soil cleanup levels at the Tacoma City Light sampling unit.
    8. A combination of methods, including physical barriers and vegetative barriers, in addition to fencing, will be used to prevent trespassers from accessing the site.
  2. EPA will consider alternatives in restricting public access to on-site surface water and sediments.
  3. EPA will inform nearby public and private well owners of the contamination and monitor these wells as necessary, should any off-site contamination be caused by contamination or activities on-site.
  4. WDOH will evaluate monitoring data to coincide with the 5-year review of the monitoring program to ensure remediation is effective mitigating human exposure.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Preparer of Report:

Anne Duffy
Public Health Advisor
Hazardous Waste Section
Washington State Department of Health

Frank Westrum, R.S., M.S., M.P.H.
Supervisor
Hazardous Waste Section
Washington State Department of Health

John Grendon, DVM
Epidemiologist
Hazardous Waste Section
Washington State Department of Health

ATSDR Regional Representative:

Gregory D. Thomas
Senior Regional Representative
Office of the Assistant, Administrator, ATSDR

ATSDR Technical Project Officer:

Richard R. Kauffman, M.S.
Toxicologist
Superfund Site Assessment Branch, State Programs Section
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation

CERTIFICATION

This Commencement Bay, South Tacoma Field Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Washington Department of Health under 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 public health assessment was begun.

Richard R. Kauffman, M.S.
Technical Project Officer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)
ATSDR

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

Richard Gillig
for Robert C. Williams, P.E., DEE
Director, DHAC, ATSDR



REFERENCES

1. ATSDR. 1992. Analysis Paper: Impact of Lead-Contaminated Soil on Public Health. Charles Xintaras, Sc.D., US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

2. ATSDR. 1992. Toxicological Profile for Aluminum and Compounds. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

3. ATSDR. 1992. Toxicological Profile for Antimony and Compounds. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

4. ATSDR. 1993. Update Toxicological Profile for Arsenic. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

5. ATSDR. 1992. Toxicological Profile for Barium and Compounds. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

6. ATSDR. 1993. Toxicological Profile for Beryllium. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

7. ATSDR. 1992. Toxicological Profile for Boron. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

8. ATSDR. 1993. Update Toxicological Profile for Cadmium. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

9. ATSDR. 1993. Update Toxicological Profile for Chromium. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

10. ATSDR. 1992. Toxicological Profile for Cobalt. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

11. ATSDR. 1990. Toxicological Profile for Copper. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

12. ATSDR. 1993. Toxicological Profile for 3,3'-Dichlorobenzidine. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

13. ATSDR. 1993. Toxicological Profile for Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

14. ATSDR. 1993. Update Toxicological Profile for Lead. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

15. ATSDR. 1992. Toxicological Profile for Manganese. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

16. ATSDR. 1993. Update Toxicological Profile for Methylene Chloride. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

17. ATSDR. 1993. Draft Update Toxicological Profile for Naphthalene. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

18. ATSDR. 1993. Update Toxicological Profile for Nickel. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

19. ATSDR. 1993. Draft Update Toxicological Profile for PAHs. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

20. ATSDR. 1993. Toxicological Profile for Pentachlorophenol. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

21. ATSDR. 1993. Update Toxicological Profile for Selected PCBs. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

22. ATSDR. 1992. Toxicological Profile for Thallium. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

23. ATSDR. 1992. Toxicological Profile for Vanadium. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

24. ATSDR. 1992. Draft Update Toxicological Profile for Zinc. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.

25. ICF Technology Incorporated. October 1992. Draft Human Health Risk Assessment Report, South Tacoma Field Site, Tacoma Washington. Appendices A through F

26. Kennedy/Jenks Consultants. September 30, 1992. Remedial Investigation Report for South Tacoma Field Superfund Site, Tacoma, WA. Remedial Investigation Report Appendices Volume 1 through 6. Groundwater Investigation Report and Hydraulic Characterization Report. Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Engineers and Scientists, 530 South 336th Street, Federal Way, WA. 98003

27. Kennedy/Jenks Consultants. April 28, 1994. Feasibility Study Report for South Tacoma Field Superfund Site, Tacoma, WA. Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Engineers and Scientists, 530 South 336th Street, Federal Way, WA. 98003

28. TOMES-PLUS electronic data system. Volume 20 Expires 4/30/94. Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).

29. Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) database. 1987 through 1993.

30. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. March 1989. Final Report Exposure Factors Handbook, Consumption of Homegrown Fruits and Vegetables. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Health and Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC 20460.



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