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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

LOWER ECORSE CREEK DUMP
WYANDOTTE, WAYNE COUNTY, MICHIGAN

CONCLUSIONS

Based on the information and data provided for this assessment, the Lower Ecorse Creek Dump site posed a urgent public health hazard in the past due to human exposure to soil and basement air containing cyanide at concentrations of human health concern.(6) The groundwater at the site is also contaminated with a cyanide compound, though the only documented exposure to the groundwater is through seepage into a basement on the site. Cyanide-contaminated surface soil has been removed from the only property where contamination at the surface has been documented. The walls and floor of a basement on the site where high concentrations of cyanide in the air were found and seepage of contaminated water occurred have been sealed to prevent cyanide-contaminated groundwater from entering. After these remedial actions have been completed, the site currently poses no apparent health hazard. The U.S. EPA is continuing to investigate the site area to determine the extent of the contamination.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The recommendations made in the 1993 ATSDR Public Health Advisory concerning the site (2) have been addressed as follows:

  1. Residents of the site area should be dissociated from the cyanide contamination – The U.S. EPA carried out an Emergency Removal Action in late 1993 and early 1994 at the site. Contaminated surface soil was removed and the walls and floor of the basement of the house at the center of the contaminated area were sealed to keep contaminated groundwater out.
  2. Permanent remedial measures should be implemented as soon as possible – The removal of contaminated soil in the 1993 U.S. EPA Emergency Removal Action is a permanent remedial measure. Permanent measures to remedy the contamination of the groundwater have not been implemented. Although groundwater is not used in the site vicinity, residents and visitors may be exposed to the water through seepage into basements in the site area.
  3. The site should be considered for U.S. EPA's National Priorities List – The U.S. EPA placed the site on the NPL in January 1994.
  4. Residents of the site area should be surveyed to locate private wells in the site area – The Work Plan for the Remedial Investigation of the site states, "Private and public water supply wells within a 2-mile radius shall also be identified." (Reference 3, p. 2-4)
  5. Restrictions on digging in the site area should be considered – The U.S. EPA has advised residents of the site area not to dig in their yards (23).
  6. The ATSDR Division of Health Studies should evaluate reports of adverse health effects to determine the source of these effects – ATSDR and U.S. EPA evaluations of the health problems experienced by one young resident of the site area have not identified a connection between these effects and his potential exposure to the cyanide compounds in the soil, air, and groundwater at his home (2).

The MDPH makes no further recommendations at this time.

HEALTH ACTIVITIES RECOMMENDATION PANEL STATEMENT

A Health Activities Recommendation Panel convened by ATSDR and MDPH has evaluated the data and information developed for the Lower Ecorse Creek Dump Public Health Assessment for appropriate follow-up health actions. The panel determined that there are indications that people were exposed to soil and groundwater containing cyanide compounds at concentrations potentially of human health concern. The cyanide compounds found at the site, however, bind the cyanide ion tightly and are much less toxic than the cyanide compounds for which the levels of health concern are derived. A resident of the site has alleged that health problems experienced by a family member are related to contamination at the site. The MDPH and ATSDR have evaluated these problems and could not identify any connection to the contamination. The panel recommends that MDPH, ATSDR, and local health departments continue their on-going program of health education to address the health concerns expressed by residents of the site area.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

Public Health Action Plans (PHAP) are developed to describe actions to be taken by ATSDR and/or the Michigan Department of Public Health (MDPH) at and in the vicinity of sites subsequent to the completion of Public Health Assessments. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that Public Health Assessments not only identify public health hazards, but also provide a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. The public health actions to be implemented by ATSDR and/or MDPH are as follows:

Health Actions Undertaken

The U.S. EPA has consulted with ATSDR concerning this site on five occasions since 1989, and ATSDR issued four consultations and a Public Health Advisory for this site. ATSDR and MDPH personnel have met with residents, public service officials, and physicians to discuss the health hazards associated with the site. ATSDR and MDPH have distributed educational materials including a site-specific fact sheet.

ATSDR and U.S. EPA have evaluated the health problems experienced by one young resident of the site area. These evaluations have not identified a connection between these effects and his potential exposure to the cyanide compounds in the soil, air, and groundwater at his home (2).

Health Actions Planned

MDPH, ATSDR, and local health departments will continue to develop and implement a program of health education to address the health concerns expressed by residents of the site area.

ATSDR and MDPH will coordinate with federal and state environmental agencies to carry out the recommendations made in this assessment.

ATSDR will reevaluate and expand the Public Health Action Plan when needed. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data, or the results of implementing the above proposed actions and recommendations may determine the need for additional actions at this site.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

Michigan Department of Public Health

    John Filpus, Environmental Engineer

    Michael Lee, Environmental Toxicologist

    James Bedford, Environmental Toxicologist

    Robin Freer, GIS Specialist

    Brendan Boyle, Health Assessment Coordinator

    John Hesse, Principal Investigator

ATSDR Regional Representative

Louise Fabinski
Regional Services, Region V
Office of the Assistant Administrator

ATSDR Technical Project Officer

William Greim
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Superfund Site Assessment Branch

CERTIFICATION

The Lower Ecorse Creek Dump Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Michigan Department of Public 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 health assessment was initiated.

William Greim, M.S., M.P.H
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)
ATSDR

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

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

REFERENCES
  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Superfund Fact Sheet, North Drive Site, Wyandotte, Michigan. December 1993.
  2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Public Health Advisory, North Drive Dump Site, Wyandotte, Michigan. August 13, 1993.
  3. CH2M Hill. Work Plan for the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study, Lower Ecorse Creek Dump Site, Wyandotte, Michigan. May 16, 1994.
  4. Williams, J.M., CH2M Hill. Letter to T. Prendiville, U.S. EPA, Subject: Data for the Lower Ecorse Creek Dump Site, MI. April 26, 1995.
  5. Bedford, J., MDPH. Memo to files, Subject: Prussian Blue/North Drive, Wyandotte. June 12, 1991.
  6. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and Michigan Department of Public Health. Interviews with residents of North Drive area. January 10, 1994.
  7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic Chemical Release Inventory database. Accessed May 23, 1994.
  8. Dowling, C. Cyanide-laced dirt threatens families. Detroit News, p. 1C-2C. May 5, 1991.
  9. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Unpublished laboratory results, Lower Ecorse River, Wyandotte, Michigan. 1994.
  10. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Cyanide, Update. ATSDR/TP-92/09. April 1993.
  11. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. ATSDR/TP-88/23. June 1989.
  12. Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Laboratory results. June-November 1982, 1986, 1990.
  13. Wood, C., MDNR. Personal communication. May 26, 1994.
  14. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Surface Water Quality Division. Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program, 1988 Annual Report. December 1988.
  15. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Surface Water Quality Division. Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program, 1991 Annual Report. MI/DNR/SWQ-91/273. December 1991.
  16. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Surface Water Quality Division. Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program, 1993 Annual Report. MI/DNR/SWQ-93/059. December 1993.
  17. Nauen, C.C. Compilation of Legal Limits for Hazardous Substances in Fish and Fishery Products. FAO Fisheries Circular No. 764. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy. 1983.
  18. Lehner, R., MDPH Division of Water Supply. Personal communication. May 27, 1994.
  19. Michigan Department of Public Health. Public Health Advisory. In Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 1994 Michigan Fishing Guide, pp. 25-29. March 1994.
  20. Meussen, J.C.L., Kelzer, M.G., and de Haan, FM. Chemical Stability and Decomposition Rate of Iron Cyanide Complexes in Soil Solutions. Environ. Sci. Technol., 26(3), 511-516. 1992.
  21. Theis, T.L., et al. Leachate Characteristics and Composition of Cyanide-Bearing Wastes from Manufactured Gas Plants. Environ. Sci. Technol., 28(1), 99-106. 1994.
  22. Ottmar, L.J., and Brown, K. Determination of Total, Weak Acid Dissociable and Bioavailable Cyanide in North Drive Soil Samples. Draft. April 1994.
  23. Clark, J.M., U.S. EPA Waste Management Division. Memorandum to Karl, R., and Traub, J., U.S. EPA, Subject: Review of North Drive Site, Wyandotte, Michigan. November 18, 1993.
  24. Waste Management Division (MDNR). Michigan Background Soil Survey. Revised April 1991.


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