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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
CHEMET COMPANY
MOSCOW, FAYETTE COUNTY, TENNESSEE


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

ATSDR   Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
CERCLA   Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980
EPA   Environmental Protection Agency
HC   Health Consultation
NPL   National Priorities List
PHA   Public Health Assessment
SACM   Superfund Accelerated Cleanup Model
SRU   Site Review and Update
TDEC   Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
U.S.   United States

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released two Health Consultations (HC) and a Site Review and Update (SRU) for the Chemet Company site. This Public Health Assessment will summarize the findings of the above named documents and discuss actions taken at the site and current site conditions.

The Chemet Company site is an inactive 5-acre facility that processed antimony oxide for use as a fire retardant from1980 until 1989. Antimony oxidation furnaces were used to remove heavy metals such as lead, zinc, and arsenic to reduce and oxidize the antimony ore. Processing wastes were deposited in on-site buildings, drums and piles. In response to citizen complaints, soil samples were collected from the drums, piles, and soil from the on-site piles in 1989. Sampling results identified lead, arsenic, and antimony at concentrations that exceeded regulatory limits. In 1989, the site was placed on the Tennessee Inactive Hazardous Waste Site list. In 1990, facility operators were ordered to clean up the site and dispose of the wastes. The facility implemented two soil removal actions in three years; however, the contaminant levels still exceeded state and federal standards. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the site for inclusion to the National Priorities List (NPL) on January 18, 1994. The site was added to the NPL in May, 1994.

The facility is bordered to the west by a wooded area, to the east by the LaGrange-Moscow Elementary school, to the north by the elementary school's ball field, and to the south by State Highway 57. The community was concerned about health effects associated with exposures to the concentrations of lead, arsenic, and antimony detected.

In 1992, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) collected soil, sediment, and surface water samples from the site. Sampling analysis identified elevated concentrations of lead, arsenic, and antimony. In 1993, the EPA requested that ATSDR prepare a health consultation to determine whether the concentrations detected could pose a health hazard. In 1993, ATSDR released a health consultation that identified lead, arsenic and antimony in on-site and off-site soil samples at concentrations of health concern. The document concluded that the concentrations of lead detected could pose a health hazard, particularly to children because of their increased susceptibility to its neurotoxic and hemotoxic effects. The HC recommended restricting access to the site until remedial actions were implemented. On January 19, 1995, ATSDR generated an SRU that summarized the findings of the 1993 health consultation and evaluated data collected during field investigations conducted at the site in 1994.

Under the Superfund Accelerated Cleanup Model (SACM), EPA contractors initiated remedial actions at the site in September 1994 and completed the actions on March 23, 1995. EPA filed a notice of intent to delete the site from the NPL in July 1996; the site was deleted in September 1996.

PURPOSE AND HEALTH ISSUES

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) prepared this Public Health Assessment (PHA) to consolidate information presented in previously released documents and to provide information about actions taken at the site and current site conditions.

BACKGROUND

The Chemet Company (Chemet) site is located approximately 1.2 miles east of Moscow, Fayette County, Tennessee on State Highway 57 (Figure 1). Chemet operated as an antimony oxide processing facility from 1980 to 1987. Processing wastes were deposited in on-site buildings, drums, and piles. The LaGrange-Moscow Elementary school is located adjacent to the east of the site, the school's ball field is located to the north, State Highway 57 is to the south, and a wooded area is to the west of the site.

 

TABLE 1

In 1992, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) collected soil, sediment, and surface water samples from the site. Sampling analysis identified elevated levels of lead, arsenic, and antimony.

In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency requested that ATSDR prepare a health consultation based on the available data. ATSDR generated a health consultation in 1993. Table 1 provides a summary of the document.

In 1994, field investigations on the site identified lead, arsenic, and antimony at concentrations that did not pose a health hazard. On January 27 and May 24, 1994, the EPA held public meetings and ATSDR staff addressed community concerns. On January 19, 1995, ATSDR generated an SRU to summarize the 1993 health consultation and to evaluate data collected during the field investigations. See Table 1 for a summary of the SRU. On May 9, 1995, ATSDR released a health consultation to address the recommendations made in the SRU. Specifically, the recommendation to evaluate whether past exposures to the contaminant concentrations could have resulted in adverse health effects. The document evaluated potential exposure pathways for site workers and for children playing in the ball field. The health consultation concluded that the contaminant concentrations identified in the ball field did not pose a health hazard to children. The maximum concentrations of lead, arsenic, and antimony detected on the site posed a health hazard to workers who frequented the maximally contaminated areas. However, past exposures to site workers cannot be tracked because of lack of information (i.e. how long did a person work at the site, how long were they exposed to the maximally contaminated areas, what type of protective equipment did they use, etc.). In addition, while the Tennessee Department of Health maintains cancer incidence and mortality registries, the information can only be accessed at the county level and the worker population cannot be isolated for a separate analysis. Worker exposures ceased in 1989. The HC listed the following longterm health effects to workers who may have been maximally exposed to site contaminants:

Lead

Long-term exposure to lead can cause damage to the nervous system and may increase blood pressure in men. Data evaluation could not determine whether pregnant women could have been exposed to concentrations of lead to damage a fetus.

Arsenic

Exposure to arsenic can cause skin darkening and wart formation. It also increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

Antimony

Little is known about health effects in people who eat relatively small amounts of antimony, other than vomiting. However, studies with newborn rats suggest that exposure to antimony can stress the cardiovascular system.

The health consultation recommended that access to the site continue to be restricted until remedial actions are completed, and the adequacy of the remedial actions be assessed before restoring public access to previously contaminated areas.

Under the Superfund Site Accelerated Cleanup Model (SACM), EPA contractors started removal actions at the site in September 1994. Remedial Actions were completed in March, 1995. EPA filed a notice of intent to delete the site from the NPL in July 1996; the site was deleted in September 1996.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

As part of two EPA-sponsored public meetings held on January 27 and May 24, 1994, ATSDR staff gathered and addressed community health concerns. Community concerns and ATSDR responses included (community concern listed in italics and response immediately following the concern):

  1. Colds and the flu in children
    There is no biological connection between the stated symptoms and exposure to site-related contaminants

  2. Is it safe for the children to play in the ball fields?
    Exposures to the contaminant concentrations identified in the ball fields would not result in adverse health effects. Therefore, it is safe for the children to play in the ball fields.

  3. A resident who lived near the site expressed concerns about the drinking water quality.
    The State Health Department sampled the resident's water and found no contaminants of concern.

  4. Could a case of lupus in the community be the result of exposures to site-related contaminants?
    There is no biological connection between lupus and exposure to site-related contaminants.

ATSDR staff contacted federal and state agencies in January 2000 and found no concerns pertaining to this site. The site was remediated in 1995 and deleted from the NPL in 1996; therefore, no future concerns are anticipated.

DISCUSSION

Past site investigations identified on-site and off-site contaminants in soil, sediment, and surface water. In May 1993, the EPA concluded that the site was a candidate for cleanup under Superfund Accelerated Cleanup Model (SACM) guidelines. Sampling surveys confirmed the soil was contaminated with lead, arsenic, and antimony. In addition, the waste piles posed an increased risk of exposure to lead on the site. EPA determined that a non-time critical removal under SACM would be effective to remediate the site.

As part of the Phase I remedial actions, soil was excavated, segregated, and categorized on the site. Contaminated areas that reached the ball field were the first areas addressed in the removal activities. A minimum of the top six inches of soil was excavated from the site. Samples were sent to a laboratory to determine proper disposal methods.

During Phase II of the removal activities, the following actions were completed:

  • Over 20,000 tons of non-hazardous contaminated soil was disposed of in an approved landfill.

  • Six hundred (600) tons of hazardous soil were disposed at an approved facility.

  • Laboratory chemicals were inventoried, segregated into compatible groups, lab packed, and disposed of properly.

  • Contaminated metal was pressure washed and recycled by a licensed vendor.

  • Over 120 drums of slag and 37 boxes of raw ore were categorized and disposed of properly.

  • The on-site buildings were demolished, pressured washed, and disposed of.

  • The on-site private well was closed according to State regulations.

After the removal actions were completed, confirmation samples were taken to verify that soil concentrations were below cleanup levels. The site was backfilled with a 6-inch layer of clean soil and seeded, and the perimeter fence was repaired. Remedial actions were completed on March 23, 1995.

On July 15, 1996, the EPA filed a Notice of Intent to delete the Chemet Company Superfund site from the National Priorities list. The site met the criteria to be deleted from the NPL because: 1) all appropriate response actions were implemented; 2) the appropriate response under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) was implemented; and, 3) confirmation samples verified that the site poses no threat to public health or the environment and no further remedial actions are needed for the site. Chemet was deleted from the NPL in 1996; therefore, no current or future potential exposures exist.

ATSDR CHILD HEALTH INITIATIVE

Children are at greater risk of health effects from exposures to hazardous substances than adults because: 1) children play outside more often than adults (increasing the likelihood of contact with chemicals in the environment); 2) children are shorter than adults and more likely to be exposed to soil, dust, and heavy vapors close to the ground; 3) children are smaller than adults and their exposures would result in higher doses of chemical per body weight; and 4) children's developing body systems can sustain damage if toxic exposures occur during certain growth stages. Therefore, ATSDR evaluated how children might be affected by the types and quantities of chemicals detected in soil, sediment, and surface at the site and the ball field next to the site.

Children may have had limited access to the site in the past. However, incidental exposures to the concentrations of contaminants detected at the site would not have resulted in adverse health effects. Children may have been exposed to lead, arsenic, and antimony when they visited or played in the ball field; but not at concentrations that would have resulted in adverse health effects.

The Chemet site was remediated and subsequently deleted from the NPL. Therefore, no current or future potential exposures remain.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The Chemet Company site is classified as a no public health hazard. This classification is based on the fact that the site was cleaned up to the satisfaction of the state, the EPA, and ATSDR and is considered to be a "no further action" site. ATSDR makes no further recommendations for this site.



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