PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
ARNOLD ENGINEERING DEVELOPMENT CENTER
(a/k/a ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE)
ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE STATION, COFFEE COUNTY, TENNESSEE
On the basis of ATSDR's evaluation of environmental information collected during site characterization and remedial processes, ATSDR has reached the conclusions below.
- Methane migration from Coffee County Landfill currently poses no apparent public health hazard. The mitigation and monitoring that AAFB has undertaken will ensure that methane does not pose a threat to residents near the landfill and high school students and staff.
- PCB levels in catfish from Woods Reservoir appear to be decreasing. However, ATSDR recommends that the advisory against consumption of catfish be kept in place in order to be certain that people do not consume PCBs at levels that could pose a health hazard. In particular, pregnant women and children should be sure to follow the advisory. The advisory serves as a useful precaution against the likelihood of adverse public health impacts from consumption of fish from Woods Reservoir. For people who adhere to the advisory, PCB contamination in fish from Woods Reservoir poses no apparent public health hazard, because exposure should be limited due to the advisory. Because of the low contaminant levels, consumption of turtles from Woods Reservoir also poses no apparent public health hazard.
- Evidence collected nationwide from the years since World War II suggests that an incidental encounter with UXO will not result in detonation. In the fifty five years since the end of World War II, there have been no injuries or fatalities at the former firing range at AAFB resulting from encounters of community members with UXO. However, a hazard could exist if UXO items are tampered with or otherwise disturbed. Prudence dictates that caution should be exercised by visitors to the former firing ranges. Adequate public education should be maintained by AAFB, including institutional controls and information provided to hunters. There is little documentation available on the efficacy of AAFB notification of the public on the potential physical hazards presented at the base. Visitor education and information programs can be useful in reducing the likelihood of hazardous encounters with UXO. Additionally, prudence suggests that visitors be advised of the remnants of abandoned buildings in the Camp Forrest area. At present, UXO within the firing ranges and Camp Forrest physical hazards that are an indeterminate public health hazard pending adequate notification of recreational users.
- Based on sampling results to date and precautionary measures taken, ATSDR did not identify any public health hazards associated with the consumption of contaminated groundwater in the vicinity of AAFB. The past exposures posed no apparent public health hazard
- Surface soil, surface water, and sediment contaminant levels detected are low, and the potential for exposure is limited; therefore, exposure to these media poses no apparent public health hazard.
The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for AAFB contains a description of actions taken and those planned by ATSDR, AAFB, and government agencies at and in the vicinity of the site subsequent to the completion of this public health assessment. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but also provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. The public health actions that have been implemented, are being implemented, are planned, or are recommended by ATSDR are as follows:
- AAFB has installed a methane venting system at the landfill and has conducted regular methane monitoring at the landfill and at nearby residences and the high school.
- AAFB has posted catfish consumption advisory signs at Woods Reservoir. ATSDR has conducted outreach sessions to heighten community awareness of this advisory.
- AAFB has sampled many off-base wells. Filtration systems or connection to a public water supply have been provided to residences with wells affected by AAFB plumes.
- AAFB has conducted extensive sampling of IRP sites. Many remedial efforts have been undertaken, including removal actions, installation of groundwater treatment units, and installation of security fences. EPA and TDEC provide oversight of this process.
- ATSDR and AAFB have undertaken community education activities regrading the PCB contamination of fish in Woods Reservior.
Actions Ongoing or Planned
- AAFB is working with TWRA to draft new language concerning UXO to be included in the next version of the AAFB Wildlife Management Area map that is given to hunters. In addition, AAFB is having signs made to post on the roads leading into the two former impact areas, warning of possible UXO.
- AAFB will continue and expand the evaluation of off-base private wells.
- AAFB will conduct further sampling, remediation, and monitoring activities as part of the IRP.
- AAFB continues to conduct regular methane monitoring at the high school.
- AAFB should coordinate with owners to ensure that any remaining nearby, open private wells that could serve as pathways of vertical methane migration are plugged, and that frequent and extensive methane monitoring be continued at the high school until methane generation from the landfill can be shown to have ceased.
- The advisory against consumption of catfish from Woods Reservoir should be kept in place to be certain that people do not consume PCBs. If, in the future, PCB levels found in catfish continue to decline, ATSDR can work with TDEC and the Air Force to reevaluate the advisory.
- Additional efforts should be made to notify all AAFB recreational users of UXO and Camp Forrest physical hazards. Information materials should include a delineation of the potential hazards as well as providing a clear procedure to be followed in the event that an encounter occurs. AAFB should target the educational effort to reach the specific audience most likely to collect or otherwise actively disturb UXO discovered within the former firing ranges, i.e. visitors who might be tempted to "collect" UXO items, or any one who might be involved in digging or excavation activities. ATSDR can work with AAFB to further delineate the potential for risk from exposure to UXO and to make that information known to visitors.
- The Air Force should continue widespread monitoring of off-site private wells and on-site drinking water supply wells should be conducted because of the unpredictable nature of plume migration in fractured bedrock.
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