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

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

PALMETTO WOOD PRESERVING, INC.
CAYCE, LEXINGTON COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA


SUMMARY

The Palmetto Wood Preserving Site is a NationalPriorities List (NPL) facility located near the town of Columbia, SouthCarolina. This 5-acre site was used as a wood preserving facility between 1963 and 1985. In1963, the facility used twoprocesses for its operation: a fluoride-chromate-arsenate-phenol and an acid-copper-chromateprocess. In 1980, EasternForest Products took over and switched to a chromated-copper-arsenate (CCA) process.Operations consisted of treatingwood with a CCA solution under high pressure and allowing the wood to dry under normalconditions.

The site is located in a rural area with an approximate population of 422 for a 1-mile radius. The community had notexpressed any concerns about the site since 1982 when they complained about a "green liquid"spilling into adjacent land and roads. In 1981, residential wells were tested becausethe "green liquid" had spilled off-site. One private well was found to contain high levels ofchromium; at that time, thefacility provided drinking water to this residence. In 1992, local residents expressed concernsabout whether their watermay be contaminated as no recent sampling had been conducted in the area.

The site is being addressed in two stages: immediate actions, and along-term remedial phase focusing on cleanup of thesite. The immediate actions began in 1985, when EPA provided a temporary alternative drinkingwater supply to aresidence adjacent to the site until municipal water was provided for this residence. In 1990, amunicipal water line wasinstalled. The long-term remedial phase included soil cleanup which began in 1989. Approximately 12,685 cubic yardsof contaminated soil were excavated, treated, solidified, and placed in containment areas on-siteto eliminate off-sitecontaminantmigration. This portion of the cleanup was completed in the same year. Groundwater cleanup isunderway.

This site is classified as being an indeterminate public healthhazard because of insufficient groundwater and soil data. The data currently available do not indicate that persons are being exposed to contaminants atlevels which could resultin adverse health effects. If additional data should become available, this classification maychange.

We recommend that the environmental fate and transport of site-related groundwatercontaminants be fully characterized;that all possible sources of contamination in the area unrelated to the site be identified; and thatsurface soil sampling beconducted. We also recommend additional sampling of the private wells in the area to bettercharacterize the extent ofcontaminant migration.

This public health assessment has been reviewed by the ATSDR Health ActivitiesRecommendation Panel, and the panelhas determined that no follow-up activities are indicated at this time.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will perform additional sampling of thegroundwater, temporary wells, surfacewater, and on-site soil. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control willevaluate the additional dataas it becomes available and will remain available to answer any questions the community may haveabout the site.


BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

The Palmetto Wood Preserving (PWP) site is a decommissioned wood preserving facilitylocated at latitude 33 55' 06",and longitude 81 03' 09" in the rural community of Dixiana, Lexington County, South Carolina(Figure 1, AppendixA). It is located approximately 1.5 miles southeast of West Columbia, 6.4 miles southwest ofColumbia, and 1.7 mileswest of the confluence of Congaree Creek and the Congaree River (Figures 1, 2, & 3).

PWP occupies approximately 5 acres of land, 3.67 acres of which are owned by a privatecitizen and the remainder isowned by the South Carolina Electric and Gas Company. The site is secured by an 8-foot highchain-link fence. Thereis one building and four above ground pools on the site.

In 1963, the facility used two processes for its operation: a fluoride-chromate-arsenate-phenoland an acid-copper-chromate process. In 1980, Eastern Forest Products took over and switched to achromated-copper-arsenate (CCA)process.

During the wood treatment process, wood was pressure impregnated with the solution thenremoved and allowed to dry,either in a drip shed or out in the open. It was during this drying process that excess solutiondripped onto the ground andinto the soil.

The site consisted of the plant structure, equipment, and stacks of treated and untreatedwood. The equipment includeda pressure vessel, narrow gauge rail line, and solution storage tanks. On-site structures include adrip shed and a storageand office building (Figure 4). All equipment was removed from the site in 1985.

The Seaboard Railroad tracks are adjacent to the southeastern boundary of the plantproperty. Untreated wood wasdelivered by rail and truck; treated lumber was generally removed by truck.

During 1981, and occasionally in 1982, the South Carolina Department of Health andEnvironmental Control (SCDHEC)received complaints, from residents and a nearby manufacturing company, concerning "greenliquid" that was runningoff the site and puddling on adjacent property and on the roads during heavy rains. SCDHECinvestigated thesecomplaints by inspecting the site and collecting on-site surface soil samples and water samplesfrom private drinking wellsof varying depths in the immediate vicinity of the site. The private well sampling showed nocontamination. Two soilsamples detected chromium and pentachlorophenol (PCP), which was listed as being used prior to1982 during the woodpreserving process. The plant foreman stated that PCP had not been used under theirmanagement because it was a fueloil based preservative and that dinitrophenol, a water soluble product, had been used. SCDHECconfirmed this reportthrough sample analyses which showed the presence of PCP and dinitrophenol.

In November 1982, SCDHEC received another complaint about liquids migrating off the site. The investigation on thisoccasion revealed that flowing liquid from freshly treated lumber was puddling on adjacentproperty. This promptedSCDHEC to issue a Notice of Violation to the plant on March 29, 1983. This also promptednumerous conferencesbetween the plant management and SCDHEC. These conferences were used to discuss soilcleanup on-site and theinstallation of a concrete drip pad to be used to collect and recycle CCA drip solution. This ideawas never implementedas SCDHEC and the plant owners never reached an agreement on how to clean up thecontaminated soil upon which thedrip pads would be placed.

In April, 1983, a new drinking water well was installed for a private citizen (PW-1, Figure 5)approximately 200 feetdowngradient of the site as the existing well was producing "yellow" water. During the initialpumping of the well, thewater turned bright yellow and didn't clear for several hours of pumping. The water was analyzedand found to containchromium. Following this discovery, the plant began to supply the residence with drinking waterby running a hose fromthe plant's own private well until it closed in 1985. EPA then provided bottled water andeventually had the residencehooked up to the City water system. From May 4 to 5, 1983, SCDHEC sampled private wellswithin the surrounding areaof the site. Sampling data revealed no contaminants in any other wells.

SCDHEC issued a Consent Order requiring PWP to determine the extent of contaminationand to develop a plan fordisposing of the contaminated materials. The plant hired Law Engineering Testing Company(LETCO) to perform apreliminary assessment of the suspected site contamination. The study, released in November1983, indicatedcontamination of soil and groundwater underneath the main process area of the site. The privatewell previously testedoff-site and found to be contaminated was re-sampled and the well was found to contain levels ofchromium significantlylower than the original analysis indicated. The results from the SCDHEC and LETCOinvestigations led to speculationby SCDHEC and the plant owners that vandalism could have caused the initial contaminationdiscovered in the private well.

At the end of 1983, SCDHEC turned over responsibility for further work on the site to theEnvironmental ProtectionAgency (EPA). PWP was proposed for inclusion to the National Priorities List (NPL) inSeptember, 1983. At that time,SCDHEC discontinued sampling of private wells in the area (NUS 1985).

On June 25, 1985, EPA issued a work assignment for a Remedial Investigation (RI) andFeasibility Study (FS) on the site. EPA assumed lead responsibility for the site when it was added to the NPL in September, 1984.

A Preliminary Assessment (PA) was completed and all buildings and facilities were removedfrom the site in 1985. TheRI was conducted in 1986 and the findings of contamination from the lumber treatment weredocumented. The FS wasthen conducted to analyze remedial activities.

In August, 1987, the selected clean-up was outlined in the Record of Decision (ROD). AROD is a public document thatrecords a brief history of the respective NPL site, the results of the RI/FS, evaluation of allremedial alternatives consideredfor the site remediation, and EPA's final selection of a cleanup alternative. The ROD outlined thatsoil and groundwaterwould be remediated separately. The Remedial Design/Remedial Action Phase of the Superfund process beganin 1987. Soil cleanup included excavation and treatment of 12,685 cubic yards of contaminated soil. Thesoil was solidified andthen placed to eliminate off-site contaminant migration. This portion of the cleanup wascompleted in the same year. Groundwater cleanup is underway via a water treatment plant.

B. Site Visit

In November 1987, Keith Lindler and Melvin Blackwell of SCDHEC conducted a site visit toinspect the condition of thesite. At that time, the site was not secured by a fence. It was apparent that the site was used as aplayground byneighborhood children. It was also evident that the site was used as a shooting range or birdhunting field as there werespent shot gun shells on the ground.

The staff noted two 12" pipes sticking up from the ground that were not capped and hadstanding water in them. Theyalso noted several 1 1/2" PVC pipes sticking up around the site, and threeareas approximately 4'x 4' that were fenced by chicken wire, one of which had damage to thefence.

After this site visit, a memorandum was written of the findings with attachments sent to EPA. A meeting was requestedwith EPA, Peer Consultants, and SCDHEC prior to construction ofthe groundwater remediation process.

In June 1992, SCDHEC staff consisting of Lovyst Howell and Todd Going conductedanother site visit. At this time, thesite was completely secured by an 8-foot high chain-link fence. An EPA and SCDHEC sign wasposted on the fenceindicating this site to be an NPL site. No evidence suggests that trespassing has occurred;however, we saw many cigarettepackages and beverage containers along the length of the railroad tracks.

The site contained a blue building approximately 30 feet by 15 feet located near the center ofthe site. We also noted fourabove ground pools approximately 15 feet in diameter. Local residents said the building was builtapproximately twoyears ago.

The area adjacent to the site was very rural, with overgrown weeds. We saw an oldabandoned truck along thenorthwestern corner of the site. On the other side of the railroad tracks, there was an abandonedhome with three smallstorage buildings and an old trailer which appeared to be unused for some time.

We saw two homes approximately 350 feet from the southeastern border of the site, acrossthe railroad tracks. Thehomeowners talked to us and expressed concerns about the quality of theirwater supply as they are still utilizing private wells. There was another home approximately 1,000feet from thesoutheastern corner of the site and the homeowners expressed a desire to have their water testedas it didn't taste good andhad a "rust color" to it, they also indicated that during periods of rain there is a "green liquid" thatwashes down the roadtoward their property. All three residences had small vegetable gardens. There were several blackberry bushes nearthese homes and adjacentto the fence by the southern corner of the site. The previous site ofthe Manufacturing Company is now vacant. Local residents said the company had moved closerto town.

We saw several middle income homes, a church, and an operating South Carolina Electric& Gas facility within a 1-mileradius of the site. We also saw a newly constructed Industrial park just beyond the 2-mile radiusof the site.

This site visit prompted us to call the City of Cayce Municipal Water Company. We foundthat municipal water isavailable in this area. However, the local residents to the south of the sitetold us they use their private wells.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and NaturalResource Use

Demographics

The Palmetto Wood Preserving site is located in a rural community approximately 6 1/2 milesnorthwest of Columbia inLexington County. The city of Columbia, with a 1992 Census population of 98,052 is located inRichland County. Current Census figures for Lexington County are 167,611.

A visual survey of the area within 1-mile of the site revealed no pattern of housing by income. The census data indicatea contrast in the value of the homes in the area. The homes in this area are single-familydwellings. Four percent of theowner occupied housing units in this area are homes valued at $25,000 or less, while 25% of thehomes are valuedbetween $60,000 and $74,999 per home. Of all the homes in the area, 20% are renter occupiedunits and 80% are owneroccupied.

Two other NPL sites, Dixiana and Lexington County 321 Landfill, are located within 1 mileof the site.


TABLE 1: PALMETTO WOOD PRESERVING SITEDEMOGRAPHICS

A*.Demographics for 1-mile radius

Total Population422
       Median Age33


B*.Demographics for 2-mile radius

Total Population3,781
       Median Age38


%
White
%
Black
%
Other
%
<10
yrs
%
65+
yrs
%
Rental
Units
<$150/
month
**
%
Houses
<$25,000
%
Renter-
Occupied
A* 97 3 0 15 7 7 4 20
B* 80 18 2 14 5 9 2 27
** Percentage include all rentals; some subsidized housing includes those who pay no cash rent.

Lexington County
       Total Population           167,611

Land Use

This is a rural community and some of the residents use their land for small crops. SouthCarolina Electric & Gas has anoperating plant adjacent to the site. The only other businesses in the area are locatedapproximately three miles away.

The land in this area, historically, has been used for cultivating timber and wood products.

Natural Resource Use

The natural resources in this area are limited to wood pulping, groundwater in the surficialand semi-confined andconfined aquifer, and sand production along the Congaree River in Dixiana. At the time of the RI, the shallow groundwater aquifer was used for private drinking wells bylocal residents downgradientof the site. At one time four wells were being used as potable water sources of which one hassince been abandoned. Alarge commercial sand production facility is located three miles south of the site.

D. Health Outcome Data

No health outcome data are available for review for the Palmetto Wood Preserving site or forthe community of Dixianaas of June, 1992. We contacted the Lexington County Health Department, the EnvironmentalControl District Office, andthe Central District Office for information on health outcome data relevant to the site area. Theseoffices and the StateHealth Office had no health outcome data.


COMMUNITYHEALTH CONCERNS

During December 1981 and occasionally during 1982, the area residents and a nearbymanufacturing companycomplained of green liquids running off the site and puddling on the adjacent property and roads. They were concernedabout their drinking water and soil contamination due to the liquid running off-site and the healtheffects associated withthe liquid.

During the 1992 site visit, some local residents expressed a concern about having their privatewells tested as it has notbeen done in a long time and this is their primary source of water. They also talked about a"green liquid" that comestoward their property during rainy periods and they are concerned about what contamination thismay pose to them, theirwater, and gardens.

The Palmetto Wood Preserving Site Public Health Assessment was available for review andpublic commentfromDecember 23, 1992 to January 29, 1993. Copies of the public health assessment were available tothecommunity/interested parties at the Lexington County Administration Building, Lexington TownHall, the LexingtonCounty Library, and the Division of Health Hazard Evaluation atSCDHEC in Columbia. Additionally, news releases weresent to all the weekly and daily newspapers in the state, all television networks in the state, theAssociated Press, and theSouth Carolina Radio network. This comment period was intended to give the public and/orinterested parties anopportunity to voice additional concerns or make comments pertaining to the Palmetto WoodPreserving Site PublicHealth Assessment. The office of Health Hazard Evaluation of the South Carolina Department ofHealth andEnvironmental Control received comments during this period. The response to these commentsare included in Appendix B.



Next Section         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. #