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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

STAR LAKE CANAL
(a/k/a STAR LAKE CANAL SITE - PORT NECHES)
PORT NECHES, JEFFERSON COUNTY, TEXAS


INTRODUCTION

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was established under the mandateof 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 ofsites considered hazardous to public health. This list is termed the National Priorities List (NPL). The1986 Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) directed ATSDR to prepare a PublicHealth Assessment (PHA) for each NPL site.

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 whether peoplein the community might be exposed to hazardous materials from the NPL facility. If people are beingexposed to these chemicals, ATSDR will determine whether the exposure is at levels which might causeharm. Community health concerns are collected to determine whether health concerns expressed bycommunity members could be related to exposure to chemicals released from the NPL facility. If thecommunity raises concerns about specific diseases in the community, health outcome data (informationfrom state and local databases or health care providers) can be used to address the community concerns. Also, if ATSDR finds that harmful exposures have occurred, health outcome data can be used todetermine if illnesses are occurring which could be associated with the hazardous chemicals releasedfrom the NPL facility.

In accordance with the Interagency Cooperative Agreement between ATSDR and the Texas Departmentof Health (TDH), ATSDR and TDH have prepared this PHA for the Star Lake Canal NPL site. ThisPHA presents conclusions about whether exposures are occurring, and whether a health threat is present. In some cases, it is possible to determine whether exposures occurred in the past; however, often a lackof appropriate historical data makes it difficult to quantify past exposures. If it is found that a threat topublic health exists, recommendations are made to stop or reduce the threat to public health.


SUMMARY

The Star Lake Canal site is located in Port Neches, Jefferson County, Texas, an industrial city adjacentto the Neches River in southeast Texas. The site includes Star Lake Canal, the adjoining MolassesBayou, and Jefferson Canal. Star Lake Canal is a man-made canal that was dug more than fifty yearsago for the purpose of wastewater discharge into the Neches River by local petrochemical facilities. StarLake Canal is approximately three miles long, up to 20 feet deep, and 100 feet wide. It is surroundedby marsh and wetlands with a variety of species of birds and animals, several of which are endangered. Star Lake Canal is not used as a fishery or for recreational purposes; however, surface water from thecanal empties into the Neches River, which is heavily used for fishing and recreational purposes.

The Texas Department of Health (TDH) under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reviewed available environmental information for the siteand evaluated the primary potential exposure pathways. These exposure pathways include fishconsumption, drinking water, and potential contact with contaminants in sediment and surface waterfrom the canals. Based on available information, we have concluded that, at present, Star Lake Canaldoes not pose a public health hazard. A brief review of the exposure pathways that were considered is presented below.

Sediment Exposure Pathway

Sediment samples collected from Star Lake Canal, Molasses Bayou, and Jefferson Canal indicate thatthe sediment is contaminated with low levels of semi-volatile organic compounds. Only napthalene andbenzo[a]pyrene were found at elevated levels. Background sediment samples taken from the NechesRiver indicate that contaminants have not migrated from Star Lake Canal.

The contaminated sediment in Star Lake Canal was collected approximately twenty feet below the watersurface. Sediment from Molasses Bayou was collected from shallow marshlands and sediment fromJefferson Canal was collected from its concrete lined ditch. We have concluded that contaminants inthe sediment do not pose a public health hazard because there is sufficient evidence indicating thatpeople would not be likely to come into contact with the sediment on a frequent basis. Thus, we do not consider dermal contact or incidental ingestion to be important potential routes of exposure.

Surface Water Pathway

Recreational purposes

Although surface water samples were not collected, available information indicates that Star Lake Canalis not used for recreational purposes such as swimming or wading. We have concluded that potentialcontaminants in surface water in and around Star Lake Canal do not pose a public health threat becausethere is sufficient evidence indicating that human exposures to this media have not occurred, are not occurring, and are not likely to occur in the future.

Fish Consumption Pathway

Although fish tissue samples from Star Lake Canal and Molasses Bayou have not been collected,evidence indicates that these areas are not used as fisheries. Jefferson Canal is too shallow to supportfish. Based on available information, we have concluded that fishing in and around Star Lake Canaldoes not pose a public health hazard because evidence indicates that no human exposures are nowoccurring, and none are likely to occur in the future. Fish from the Neches River, a popular fisherydownstream from Star Lake Canal, previously have been sampled by TDH and were not contaminatedwith either semi-volatile or volatile organic chemicals. Thus, eating fish from the Neches River does not pose a public health hazard.

Ground Water Pathway

Drinking water

Drinking water in the area of the site is supplied by the Lower Neches Valley Authority whose surfacewater intake points are north and upstream of the area, in the City of Beaumont. There is nodocumentation indicating that wells in the vicinity of the canal have been contaminated by hazardoussubstances attributable to the canal. No public supply wells exist within a four mile radius of the canal. Within a one mile radius of the site, one irrigation well and one domestic well were identified. Both wells are hydrologically upgradient from the beginning of the canal [1]. We have concluded that drinking water from the area does not pose a public health hazard.


ATSDR PUBLIC HEALTH CONCLUSION CATEGORIES
CATEGORY A.
URGENT PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD 1
CATEGORY B.
PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD 1
CATEGORY C.
INDETERMINATE PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD
CATEGORY D.
NO APPARENT PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD 1
CATEGORY E.
NO PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD
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. 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. 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. 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. This category is used for sites that, because of the absence of exposure, do NOT pose a public health hazard.
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 that 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 sufficient to support a decision. This does not necessarily imply that the available data are complete; in some cases additional data 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 concerns information; toxicologic, medical, and epidemiologic data.


BACKGROUND

Site Description and History

Star Lake Canal is located in Port Neches, Jefferson County, Texas, an industrial city adjacent to theNeches River in southeast Texas. The site includes Star Lake Canal, the adjoining Molasses Bayou,and Jefferson Canal (Fig. 1). Star Lake Canal is a man-made canal that was dug more than fifty yearsago for the purpose of wastewater discharge into the Neches River by local petrochemical facilities. Itis approximately three miles long, up to 20 feet deep, and 100 feet wide. It eventually empties into theNeches River. Jefferson Canal is a small concrete lined drainage ditch in the upstream segment of StarLake Canal between the industrial discharge area and the canal. Molasses Bayou winds adjacent to StarLake Canal on the southeast side and is surrounded by wetlands (Figs. 2-7). Star Lake Canal isbordered to the south by a large industrial area, to the east by a few residences (separated by wetlands),to the west by wetlands, and to the north by the Neches River and Sabine Lake.

A sampling inspection by the Texas Department of Water Resources conducted in 1983 documentedelevated levels of numerous semi-volatile organic compounds in material dredged from the banks ofJefferson Canal [1]. In 1996 and 1998, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission(TNRCC) collected sediment samples from Jefferson Canal, Star Lake Canal, and the wetlandsbordering Molasses Bayou. These samples were analyzed for volatile and semi-volatile organiccontaminants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals and pesticides. TNRCC found elevated levelsof volatile and semi-volatile organic contaminants in sediments that extended more than two milescovering portions of Jefferson Canal, Star Lake Canal, and Molasses Bayou up to an area within onequarter-mile of where Molasses Bayou, Star Lake Canal, and the Neches River converge (Fig.1). Several samples contained metals, pesticides, and/or PCBs at levels above background.

The site, which contains more than three miles of wetlands that are habitat used by the white-faced ibis,a State-designated threatened species, was proposed to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's)National Priority List (NPL) in July of 1999. The NPL is a list of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites identified for possible long-term remedial action under Superfund [2].

Site Visit

We toured the area in September 1999 with personnel from TNRCC, Lower Neches Valley Authority,and ATSDR using air boats provided by the Texas General Land Office. During our tour we did notsee any evidence of fishing or crabbing in Star Lake Canal or the adjoining Molasses Bayou. Localresidents confirmed that these areas were not used for fishing but did indicate that some fishers catchbait from these areas. Jefferson Canal did not appear to be deep enough to support fish, and we did notsee any evidence that people had been fishing from the Canal. Although Star Lake Canal is not usedas a fishery or for recreational purposes, water from the canal empties into the Neches River which isheavily used for fishing and recreation. Surface water flows down the Neches River approximately 3and one-half miles to Sabine Lake. Sabine Lake is used as a fishery and produced more than one million pounds of fish and shellfish in 1996.

While touring the site, we did not notice any obvious chemical odors in the canals. Nor did we see anytype of chemical sheen on the surface of the water. We did notice a sheen on the end of the pole that wewere using to divert the boat away from vegetation. We also saw commercial crab traps and recreational fishers near the mouth of the Neches River and Star Lake Canal.

Demographics

The 1990 U.S. Bureau of Census data reports that there are 84 housing units and 218 people livingwithin a one-half mile radius of the Star Lake Canal site [3]. The population consists of 215 whites,and 3 of "other races". There are 24 children aged 6 and younger, 25 adults aged 65 and older, and 42 females aged 15-44 (Fig. 8).

The closest cities in the vicinity are the City of Port Neches with a population of 12,974, the City of Port Arthur with a population of 58,724, and the City of Groves with a population of 16,513.

Community Health Concerns

To collect community health concerns, we mailed letters to residents living along Sara Jane Roadadjacent to Star Lake Canal. The letters explained that we were evaluating sediment data in order todetermine whether chemicals in the sediment pose a public health threat. We asked if they had anyconcerns pertaining to the site and asked them to respond by phone or mail. We received two responses,both of which stated that they had no health concerns related to the chemicals in Star Lake Canal.

One resident did indicate that he had a well, near Star Lake Canal, that has been used as a drinkingwater supply for 30 years. We contacted the resident and were told that the quality of the water is good. The well is hydrologically upgradient from the canals and the resident refuses to use city water because of individual preference for the well water.


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION

Introduction

In order to assess the potential public health significance of exposure to the contaminants found in thesesediments, we compared the contaminant concentrations to health assessment comparison (HAC) valuesfor both non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic endpoints. HAC values are media-specific contaminantconcentrations that are used to screen contaminants for further evaluation. While exceeding a HACvalue does not necessarily mean that a contaminant represents a public health threat, it does suggest thatthe contaminant warrants further consideration.

Non-cancer comparison values are called environmental media evaluation guides (EMEGs) or referencedose media evaluation guides (RMEGs) and are respectively based on ATSDR's minimal risk levels(MRLs) and EPA's reference doses (RfDs). MRLs and RfDs are estimates of daily human exposureto a contaminant that is unlikely to cause adverse non-cancer health effects over a lifetime. Cancer riskcomparison values are called carcinogenic risk evaluation guides (CREGs) and are based on EPA'schemical specific cancer slope factors and an estimated excess lifetime cancer risk of one-in-one-millionpersons exposed for a lifetime. We used standard assumptions to calculate appropriate HAC values (4).

Contamination

Sampling Event I

In October of 1996, as part of the Site Screening Inspection Report, the TNRCC collected 19 sedimentsamples, including three background samples from the Neches River, three samples at the confluenceof Star Lake Canal and the Neches River, eight samples from Star Lake Canal, one sample fromJefferson Canal, two samples from Molasses Bayou, and two field duplicates. These samples werecollected to assess sediment contamination via transport along the surface water pathway. The sampleswere analyzed for volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, PCBs, pesticides, and metals. Allsamples were collected according to EPA-approved Quality Assurance Project Plans, and the samplelocations were approved by the EPA prior to sample collection [1].

Only three of the nineteen samples (SE-10, SE-11, SE-16) were found to contain organic contaminants(all semi-volatile) above detection limits (Table 1). Two of the three samples (SE-10, SE-11) werecollected from Molasses Bayou and one of the three (SE-16) was collected from Jefferson Canal. Noneof the contaminants were found above their respective HAC values. None of the samples taken fromthe Neches River or from Star Lake Canal contained organic contaminants above detection limits. Although several metals were found at levels above background (arsenic, manganese, barium,chromium, and copper), none were found to exceed HAC values. PCBs and pesticides were not found in this sample set [1].

Table 1.

Organic contaminants found in sediment from Star Lake Canal, Jefferson Canal and Molasses Bayou during the TNRCC Screening Site Inspection (n=19 samples collected 1996)
  Molasses Bayou
(near Star Lake)
(SE-10)
Molasses Bayou
(SE-11)
Jefferson Canal
(SE-16)
Health Based Comparison Value (mg/kg)
napthalene nd 210 nd 1,000 child/10,000adult EMEG
2-methylnapthalene 2.3 84 nd none
acenapthene 2.7 70 14 3,000 child/40,000 adult RMEG
fluorene 1.5 61 18 2,000 child/30,000 adult RMEG
phenanthrene 2.7 nd 55 None
pyrene 1.4 48 22 2,000 child/20,000 adult RMEG
acenapthylene nd nd 12 none
anthracene nd nd 11 20,000 child/200,000 adult RMEG
fluoranthene nd nd 12 2,000 child/30,000 adult RMEG
*RMEG=reference dose media evaluation guide and is based on EPA's RfD, EMEG=environmental media evaluation guide and is based on ATSDRsMRL, CREG=cancer risk evaluation guide and is based on an excess cancer risk of one in one-million persons exposed over a lifetime. Health basedcomparison values are based on an assumed ingestion rate of 200 mg sediment for children (body weight 10 kg) and an ingestion rate of 100 mg sedimentfor adults (body weight 70 kg)

Sampling Event II

In March 1998, as a follow-up to the sampling conducted for the Screening Site Inspection Report, theTNRCC collected 10 samples from Jefferson Canal and 16 samples from Molasses Bayou (Tables 2and 3). Sediment samples were collected between 0 and 30 inches in depth. The 10 sediment samplesfrom Jefferson Canal were analyzed for volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, pesticides, PCBs,and metals. The 16 sediment samples from Molasses Bayou were analyzed for volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds and metals.

Tables two and three list only those semi-volatile and volatile organic chemicals that were detected inthe sediment samples collected in Jefferson Canal and Molasses Bayou. Most of the samples had non-detectable levels of the compounds analyzed. Two semi-volatile organic compounds, napthalene andbenzo(a)pyrene were detected above their respective HAC values (Table 2). Although benzo(a)pyreneexceeded its CREG (cancer risk evaluation guide based on one in one-million persons exposed over alifetime) in four samples, the detection limit (0.48 mg/kg) was higher than the HAC value.

In Jefferson Canal, very low levels of Aroclor 1254, heptachlor epoxide, and DDD were found in somesamples. Additionally, several metals were found at levels above background (arsenic, manganese,barium, chromium, and copper). None of these contaminants exceed their respective HAC values, andexposure to the reported levels would not be expected to result in adverse health effects. In the 16sediment samples collected from Molasses Bayou, benzo(a)pyrene exceeded its CREG value in one sample.

Table 2.

Contaminants found in sediment from Jefferson Canal (n=10 samples collected 1998)
Chemical No. samples with detectable levels Concentration range (mg/kg) Health Based Comparison Value (mg/kg)*
Volatile Organic Compounds (mg/kg)
benzene 1 0.24 20 CREG
toluene 1 9.5 10,000 child/100,000 adult RMEG
ethylbenzene 4 0.045-32 5,000 child/70,000 adult RMEG
styrene 2 20-70 10,000 child/100,000 adult RMEG
xylenes (total) 2 21-28 none
Semi-volatile Organic Compounds (mg/kg)
napthalene 3 22-4,300 1,000 child**/10,000adult EMEG
benzo(a)pyrene 4 0.59-46 0.1 CREG
2-methylnapthalene 2 4.2-8.2 none
acenapthylene 5 1.8-10 none
acenapthene 4 0.76-9.8 3,000 child/40,000 adult RMEG
fluorene 2 5.1-6 2,000 child/30,000 adult RMEG
phenanthrene 3 1.7-18 none
anthracene 3 1.6-4.1 20,000 child/200,000 adult RMEG
fluoranthene 4 1.4-5.6 2,000 child/30,000 adult RMEG
pyrene 5 2.2-9.3 2,000 child/20,000 adult RMEG
benzo(a)anthracene 6 0.5-73 none
chrysene 5 0.6-87 none
benzo(b)fluoranthene 1 0.9 none
benzo(k)fluoranthene 2 1-22 none
indeno(1,2,3)pyrene 1 0.69 none
benzo(g,h,i)perylene 1 0.8 none
*RMEG=reference dose media evaluation guide and is based on EPA's RfD, EMEG=environmental media evaluation guide and is based on ATSDRs MRL, CREG=cancer risk evaluation guide and is based on an excess cancer risk of one in one-million persons exposed over a lifetime. Health based comparison values are based on an assumed ingestion rate of 200 mg sediment for children (body weight 10 kg) and an ingestion rate of 100 mg sediment for adults (body weight 70 kg) **Bold font indicates exceedance of HAC value


Table 3.

Contaminants found in sediment from Molasses Bayou (n=16 samples collected 1998)
Chemical No. samples with detectable levels Concentration range (mg/kg) Health Based Comparison Value (mg/kg)*
Volatile Organic Compounds (mg/kg)
benzene 1 0.029 20 CREG
ethylbenzene 6 0.037-41 5,000 child/70,000 adult RMEG
xylenes (total) 7 0.034-28 none
Semi-volatile Organic Compounds (mg/kg)
napthalene 2 1.9-94 1,000 child/10,000adult EMEG
benzo(a)pyrene 1 2.9 0.1 CREG**
methylnapthalene 4 2.8-100 none
acenapthylene 4 0.84-19 none
acenapthene 3 3.7-43 3,000 child/40,000 adult RMEG
fluorene 5 3.7-76 2,000 child/30,000 adult RMEG
phenanthrene 3 47-190 none
anthracene 5 2.1-34 20,000 child/200,000 adult RMEG
fluoranthene 6 1-36 2,000 child/30,000 adult RMEG
pyrene 5 1.5-21 2,000 child/20,000 adult RMEG
benzo(a)anthracene 2 2.2-4.2 none
chrysene 1 0.75 none
benzo(b)fluoranthene 1 1.2 none
benzo(k)fluoranthene 1 1.4 none
indeno(1,2,3)pyrene 1 0.85 none
benzo(g,h,i)perylene 1 0.74 none
*RMEG=reference dose media evaluation guide and is based on EPA's RfD, EMEG=environmental media evaluation guide and is based on ATSDRsMRL, CREG=cancer risk evaluation guide and is based on an excess cancer risk of one in one-million persons exposed over a lifetime. Health basedcomparison values are based on an assumed ingestion rate of 200 mg sediment for children (body weight 10 kg) and an ingestion rate of 100 mg sedimentfor adults (body weight 70 kg)
**Bold font indicates exceedance of HAC value


PATHWAYS ANALYSIS / PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

Introduction

The presence of chemical contaminants in the environment does not always result in exposure to orcontact with the chemicals by people. Since chemicals only have the potential to cause adverse healtheffects when people actually come into contact with them, it is exposure, or the contact that people havewith the contaminants that drives the public health assessment process.

People may be exposed to chemicals in different ways; usually by breathing, eating, drinking, or cominginto direct contact with a substance containing the contaminant. This section reviews availableinformation to determine whether people in the community have been, currently are, or may in thefuture be exposed to contaminants associated with this site.

To determine whether people are exposed to contaminants associated with the site, we evaluate theenvironmental and human components that lead to human exposure. This analysis consists ofevaluating the five elements of an exposure pathway: a source of contamination, transport through anenvironmental medium, a point of exposure, a route through which the contaminant can enter the body,and an exposed population. Exposure pathways can be complete, potential, or eliminated. For a personto be exposed to a contaminant, the exposure pathway must be complete. An exposure pathway isconsidered complete when all five elements in the pathway are present and exposure has occurred, isoccurring, or will occur in the future. A potential pathway is missing at least one of the five elementsand may be completed in the future. Eliminated pathways are missing one or more elements and willnever be completed. Table 4 identifies the pathways that we identified for this site. The followingdiscussion incorporates only those pathways which are relevant and important to the site.

Since exposure does not always result in adverse health effects, we also evaluate whether the exposurecould be sufficient to pose a hazard to people in the community. The factors that influence whetherexposure to a contaminant or contaminants could or would result in adverse health effects include; (1)the toxicologic properties of the contaminant; (2) how much of the contaminant the individual isexposed to; (3) how often and/or how long exposure is allowed to occur; (4) the manner in which thecontaminant enters or contacts the body (breathing, eating, drinking, or skin/eye contact); and, (5) thenumber of contaminants to which an individual is exposed (combinations of contaminants). Onceexposure occurs, characteristics such as age, sex, nutritional status, genetics, life style, and health statusof the exposed individual influence how the individual absorbs, distributes, metabolizes, and excretes the contaminant.

Evaluation of Sediment Exposure Pathway

Sediment samples collected from Star Lake Canal, Molasses Bayou, and Jefferson Canal indicate thatthe sediment is contaminated with low levels of semi-volatile organic compounds. Only napthalene andbenzo[a]pyrene were found to exceed HAC values. Background sediment samples taken from theNeches River indicate that contaminants have not migrated from Star Lake Canal.

The contaminated sediment from Star Lake Canal is approximately twenty feet below the water surface. The contaminated sediment from Molasses Bayou is below marsh water wetlands and the contaminatedsediment from Jefferson Canal was collected from shallow water from its concrete lined ditch. We haveconcluded that contaminants in the sediment do not pose a public health hazard because there issufficient evidence indicating that people would not be likely to come into contact with the sediment ona frequent basis. Thus, we do not consider dermal contact or incidental ingestion to be important potential routes of exposure.

Evaluation of Surface Water Pathway

Recreational purposes

Although surface water samples were not collected, available information indicates that Star Lake Canalis not used for recreational purposes such as swimming or wading. We have concluded that potentialcontaminants in surface water in and around Star Lake Canal does not pose a public health threatbecause there is sufficient evidence indicating that human exposures to this media have not occurred,are not occurring, and are not likely to occur in the future.

Evaluation of Fish Consumption Pathway

Although fish tissue samples from Star Lake Canal and Molasses Bayou have not been collected,evidence indicates that these areas are not used as fisheries. Jefferson Canal is too shallow to supportfish. Based on available information, we have concluded that fishing in and around Star Lake Canaldo not pose a public health hazard because sufficient evidence indicates that no human exposures arenow occurring, and none are likely to occur in the future. Fish from the Neches River, a popular fisherydownstream from Star Lake Canal, previously have been sampled by TDH and were not contaminatedwith either semi-volatile or volatile organic chemicals. Thus, eating fish from the Neches River does not pose a public health hazard [5].

Evaluation of Ground Water Pathway

Drinking water

Drinking water in the area of the site is supplied by the Lower Neches Valley Authority whose surfacewater intake points are north and upstream of the area, in the City of Beaumont. There is nodocumentation indicating that wells in the vicinity of the canal have been contaminated by hazardoussubstances attributable to the canal. No public supply wells exist within a four mile radius of the canal. Within a one mile radius of the site, one irrigation well and one domestic well were identified. Bothwells are hydrologically upgradient from the beginning of the canal [1]. We have concluded that drinking water from the area does not pose a public health hazard.

Table 4.

Potential Exposure Pathways for Star Lake Canal
PATHWAY NAME PRIMARY CONTAMINANTS OF CONCERN EXPOSURE PATHWAY ELEMENTS TIME CONCLUSIONS
SOURCE ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA POINT OF EXPOSURE ROUTE OF EXPOSURE EXPOSED POPULATION
Potential Exposure Pathways
Canal sediment napthalene
benzo(a)pyrene
wastewater discharge from local industry sediment on-site,
swimming,
wading
dermal,
incidental
ingestion
residents past
present
future
no public health hazard; contaminated sediments are in marshlands and deeper waters; sufficient evidence indicates that people would not be likely to come in contact with sediment on a frequent basis
Surface water unknown wastewater discharge from local industry surface water swimming,
wading
dermal, incidental ingestion residents past
present
future
no public health hazard; sufficient evidence indicates that residents do not use the canal for recreational purposes
Fish unknown wastewater
discharge from local industry
fish fish
consumption
ingestion fishers and their families past present future no public health hazard; sufficient evidence indicates that the canal and surrounding wetlands are not used for fishing, and available data indicate contaminants have not migrated to the Neches River (heavily used for fishing and crabbing)
Groundwater unknown wastewater discharge from local industry groundwater drinking water ingestion residents past
present
future
no public health hazard; drinking water is supplied by the City
water wells ingestion residents past
present
future
no public health hazard; all wells are upgradient of the site

Health Outcome Data

Health outcome data (HOD) record certain health conditions that occur in populations. These data canprovide information on the general health of communities living near a hazardous waste site. It also canprovide information on patterns of specified health conditions. Some examples of health outcomedatabases are tumor registries, birth defects registries, and vital statistics. Information from localhospitals, and other health care providers also may be used to investigate patterns of disease in a specificpopulation. TDH and ATSDR look at appropriate and available health outcome data when there is acompleted exposure pathway or community concern. Due to a lack of completed exposure pathwaysand no identified community concerns, a review of health outcome data was not required for this site.


ATSDR'S CHILD HEALTH INITIATIVE

TDH has prepared this consult under a Cooperative Agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substancesand Disease Registry (ATSDR). TDH has included the following information in accordance with theATSDR's 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 substances emittedfrom waste sites and emergency events. They are more likely to be exposed because they play outdoorsand they often bring food into contaminated areas. They are shorter than adults, which means theybreathe dust, soil, and heavy vapors close to the ground. Children also are smaller, resulting in higherdoses of chemical exposure per body weight. The developing body systems of children can sustainpermanent damage if toxic exposures occur during critical growth stages. Most importantly, childrendepend completely on adults for risk identification and management decisions, housing decision, andaccess to medical care.

TDH evaluated the potential for children living in the vicinity of Star Lake Canal to be exposed to sitecontaminants at levels of health concern. Although one contaminant (napthalene) exceeds the healthbased comparison for a child, exposure to site contaminants is not occurring.


CONCLUSIONS

  1. Sediment samples taken from Star Lake Canal are contaminated with semi-volatile organicchemicals; however, none of the levels exceed health based comparison values. Althoughbenzo[a]pyrene and napthalene exceeded health based comparison values, these contaminantswere found in a concrete lined ditch and marshlands that are primarily inaccessible to the public;thus, exposure to the sediment is unlikely. We have concluded that contaminants in thesediment do not pose a public health hazard because there is sufficient evidence indicating thatpeople would not be likely to come into contact with the sediment on a frequent basis. Thus, we do not consider dermal contact or incidental ingestion to be important potential routes of exposure.

  2. There are no public wells within a four mile radius, and the one private well in the vicinity is upgradient of the site.

  3. The canals are not used as a fishery or for recreational purposes.

RECOMMENDATIONS

There are no recommendations for action in Star Lake Canal, Jefferson Canal, or Molasses Bayou.


REFERENCES

  1. TNRCC, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. Screening Site Inspection Reportfor Star Lake Canal, TX0001414341, Port Neches, Jefferson County, Texas. Prepared incooperation with the U.S. EPA. Sept. 1999.

  2. U.S. EPA, United States Environmental Protection Agency. National Priorities List (NPL). Star Lake Canal, Port Neches, Texas. July 1999.

  3. U.S. Census Bureau. Census of the population. Demographic Statistics Source: 1990 U.S. Census. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1985.

  4. ATSDR, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Public Health AssessmentGuidance Manual. Lewis Publishers, 1992.

  5. Texas Department of Health, Seafood Safety Division. Analysis of risk from consumption of fish taken from the Lower Neches River. November 1995.

Star Lake Canal site and surrounding area
Figure 1. Star Lake Canal site and surrounding area

Mouth of Molasses Bayou and Star Lake Canal
Figure 2. Mouth of Molasses Bayou (left) and Star Lake Canal (right)

Wetlands surrounding Molasses Bayou
Figure 3. Wetlands surrounding Molasses Bayou

Refineries in distance. Molasses Bayou
Figure 4. Refineries in distance. Molasses Bayou (front)

Site visit in air boat through Star Lake Canal
Figure 5. Site visit in air boat through Star Lake Canal

Residential area in background adjacent to Molasses Bayou
Figure 6. Residential area in background adjacent to Molasses Bayou.

Recreational fishing and barge in Neches River at mouth of Star Lake Canal
Figure 7. Recreational fishing and barge in Neches River at mouth of Star Lake Canal.

Demographics for Star Lake Canal site
Figure 8. Demographics for Star Lake Canal site


PREPARERS OF THE REPORT

Lisa Williams, M.S.
Toxicologist
Health Risk Assessment and Toxicology Program

Susan Prosperie, M.S., R.S.
Health Assessor
Health Risk Assessment and Toxicology Program

John F. Villanacci, Ph.D.
Director
Health Risk Assessment and Toxicology Program


ATSDR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

George Pettigrew, P.E.
Senior Regional Representative
ATSDR - Region 6


ATSDR TECHNICAL PROJECT OFFICER

Alan W. Yarbrough
Environmental Health Scientist
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
State Programs Section


CERTIFICATION

This Star Lake Canal Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Texas 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 initiated.

Alan W. Yarbrough
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.

Lisa C. Hayes
for Chief, State Programs Section, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR


APPENDIX A:

ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
ATSDR Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
CERCLA Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1990
EMEG Environmental Media Evaluation Guide
EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
HAC Health Assessment Comparison Value
MRL Minimal Risk Level
NPL National Priorities List
PHA Public Health Assessment
RfD Reference Dose
RMEG Reference Dose-based Media Evaluation Guide
SARA 1986 Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act
TDH Texas Department of Health
TNRCC Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission

Table of Contents

  
 
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