PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
PACKAGING CORPORATION OF AMERICA
FILER CITY, MANISTEE COUNTY, MICHIGAN
- The Packaging Corporation of America site poses an indeterminate public health hazard at this
time. As noted in the Pathways Analyses section above, human exposure to heavy metals and
organic chemicals could have occurred and may be occurring to trespassers coming into contact
with the soils and sediments in the lagoons. It is not clear whether actual surface material has
been sampled for analysis, or whether the collection method removed surface material from the
samples described as "surficial soil." As discussed in the Public Health Implications section
above, exposure to the shallow sub-surface material on the site is not likely to result in adverse health effects.
- Groundwater at the site contains concentrations of metals and organic chemicals that are of
potential health hazard if the water were used for household purposes. The contaminated
groundwater is not used for household purposes at this time. The drinking water supply at a
factory downgradient from the site has, in the past, pumped up water from the contaminated
aquifer for short periods when well casings failed. These incidents were brief, and exposure
during them would have been reduced because of the disagreeable taste, odor, and color of the
contaminated groundwater. Health effects are not likely from these incidents. The plant has
discontinued using their wells for drinking water and now obtains their water from a nearby
municipal water system. It is possible, though unlikely, that future land use changes in the area affected by the contaminated groundwater could result in the groundwater being used.
- Migration of the contaminants in the groundwater could also result in contaminants reaching
wells used for potable water supplies.
- There is not sufficient information available on the hydrogeology of the area to determine
whether it is possible for the groundwater contaminant plume to migrate under Manistee Lake
and reach the vicinity of Manistee and Filer City municipal wells. There is no indication in the available information that such migration has occurred.
- The contaminated groundwater discharges to Manistee Lake. Before the lagoons were
constructed, the PCA plant that used the lagoons discharged their wastes into Manistee Lake.
Studies of the lake have found degraded water quality, polluted sediments, and absent to scarce
bottom-dwelling life throughout the lake. There are many other potential sources for the
contamination of the lake besides the PCA site and the PCA plant.
- Fish in Manistee Lake contain PCBs and mercury at concentrations potentially of human health concern to consumers of the fish. The presence of these chemicals is not known to be related to the site, and comparable concentrations are found in many waterbodies in Michigan. The Michigan Department of Public Health has issued an advisory to restrict consumption of various species of fish taken from all inland lakes, reservoirs, and impoundments in the state, including Manistee Lake, because of a wide-spread pattern of mercury contamination.
The MDPH recommends that:
- Samples of actual surface material in the lagoons area should be collected and analyzed for the contaminants of concern at this site. Access to the site, particularly to the lagoons area, should be better restricted.
- Local authorities should consider implementing deed restrictions on the area above the
groundwater contaminant plume to deter installation of new wells. Deed restrictions are in place
for property owned by Martin Marietta and the Village of East Lake, and property formerly
owned by Stronach Township that PCA recently acquired (10).
- The groundwater should continue to be monitored to detect any further contamination
movement from the lagoons, to determine whether any private or municipal wells in the area are
threatened by the contamination. This monitoring is included in the U.S. EPA ROD for the site
- The hydrogeology of the site area should be studied further to establish the structure of the
geologic formations underneath Manistee Lake and the extent of the groundwater contamination,
to determine whether any private or municipal wells in the area might be reached by the
- Sediments and surface water in Manistee Lake should be sampled again to determine whether
the poor water quality, distressed biota, and elevated contaminant levels found in much earlier
studies of the lake persist. The U.S. EPA ROD for the Groundwater Operable Unit of the site
includes monitoring of fish and sediments in the lake (6). The MDNR has collected samples of
sediment from Manistee Lake for analysis by the MDPH laboratories. The results of analysis are
not available at this writing.
- The MDPH should continue to evaluate data on contaminants in fish as it becomes available to ensure that the advisory on consumption of fish from Manistee Lake remains protective of human health in accordance with currently accepted standards and procedures. The U.S. EPA ROD for the Groundwater Operable Unit of the site includes monitoring of fish and sediments in the lake (6). The MDNR has collected samples of sediment from Manistee Lake for analysis by the MDPH laboratories. The results of analysis are not available at this writing.
A Health Activities Recommendation Panel convened by ATSDR and MDPH has evaluated the available data and information developed for the Packaging Corporation of America Public Health Assessment for appropriate follow-up health actions. The panel has determined that, although there is currently a potential for human exposure to on-site contaminants, there are no indications in the information and data reviewed for this Public Health Assessment that human exposure to contaminants at levels of public health concern is actually occurring at the present time or has occurred in the past. Accordingly, this site is not being considered for follow-up health actions at this time, beyond continuing the health education, consultation, and information that ATSDR and MDPH, in cooperation with the Manistee-Mason District Health Department, provide to the public within the Public Health Assessment process. However, if data become available suggesting that such human exposure is currently occurring or has occurred in the past, ATSDR will re-evaluate this site for any indicated further follow-up action.
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. ATSDR, MDPH, and the Manistee-Mason District Health Department will continue to cooperate to provide the residents of the area with the appropriate information and assistance to address their concerns with the PCA site.
ATSDR and MDPH will coordinate with federal and state environmental agencies to carry out
the recommendations made in this assessment. The MDNR has ordered further testing to
determine to what extent the lagoons are a continuing source of contamination and to determine
if the wastes they still contain are hazardous. The MDPH and MDNR are coordinating to collect
and analyze additional samples of fish and sediment from Manistee Lake. 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.
Michigan Department of Public Health
John Filpus, Environmental Engineer
James Bedford, Environmental Toxicologist
Brendan Boyle, Health Assessment Coordinator
John Hesse, Primary Investigator
ATSDR Regional Representative
Regional Services, Region V
Office of the Assistant Administrator
ATSDR Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
The Packaging Corporation of America 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 public health assessment was begun.
William Greim, M.S., M.P.H
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)
The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public health
assessment, and concurs with its findings.
Richard Gillig for
Robert C. Williams, P.E., DEE
Director, DHAC, ATSDR
- Smithe, R.J. History of PCA Lagoons. June 1, 1985.
- Michigan Department of Public Health, for ATSDR. Preliminary Health Assessment for
Packaging Corporation of America. March 10, 1989.
- Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber. Remedial Investigation Report, Packaging Corporation
of America. April 1991.
- Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber. Feasibility Study, Packaging Corporation of America,
Draft. February 1992.
- Camp Dresser & McKee and Battelle Great Lakes Environmental Center. Report: Packaging
Corporation of America/Manistee Lake Site. August 13, 1993.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Declaration for the Record of Decision, Groundwater
Operable Unit, Packaging Corporation of America Site. September 24, 1993.
- U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1990 Census Data.
- Eleder, B. Memorandum to L. Fabinski of ATSDR, Subject: Packaging Corporation of
America. July 24, 1992.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Toxic Chemical Release Inventory database for 1987-1993. Accessed July 11, 1994, May 4, 1995.
- Smithe, R.J., PCA. Letter to J. Filpus, MDPH. April 27, 1995.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Potential Hazardous Waste Site / Site Inspection Report. September 8, 1982.
- Michigan Department of Public Health. Division of Water Supply files. reviewed December
- Fetterolf, C., Michigan Water Resources Commission. Limnological and Biological Survey
of Manistee Lake, Manistee County, Michigan, February 26-28, 1957. No date (1957).
- Newton, M.E., Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Limnological Survey of
Manistee Lake and Connecting Waters, Manistee County, Michigan, July 13, 1970. No date
- Grant, J., Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Water Quality and Biological Survey
of Manistee Lake, 1973 and 1975. Pub. no. 4833-9310. October 1977.
- Kenaga, D., Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Biological and Chemical Surveys
of Manistee Lake at Manistee, Manistee County, Michigan, April 24, 1980, April 10, 1981, and
April 26 and June 29, 1983. April 1984.
- Author and source unknown. Manistee Harbor, Michigan, Date Sampled: June 27, 1981.
From a Packaging Corporation of America critique of Reference 5. No date (1982?).
- Surber, E.W., and Harvey, C., Michigan Water Resources Commission. A Biological Survey
of the Effects of Pollution on Manistee Lake, September 15, 1953. No date (1954).
- Surber, E.W., et al, Michigan Water Resources Commission. Results of a Biological Survey
of Manistee Lake, September 22, 1954. No date (1955).
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Michigan Fish Contaminant Monitoring
Program, 1992 Annual Report. Report MI/DNR/SWQ-92/292. December 1992.
- MacEwan, J., Michigan Department of Public Health, Water Supply Division. Letter to D.
Kuk, Martin Marietta, Muskegon, subject: Martin Marietta Water System. April 13, 1990.
- MacEwan, J., Michigan Department of Public Health, Water Supply Division. Personal
Communication. March 26, 1993.
- Brogren, B., Michigan Department of Public Health, Water Supply Division. Personal
communication. March 12, 1993.
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources. 1991 Annual Fishing Guide. (January) 1991.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Mercury,
Update, Draft for Public Comment. October 1992.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). January 1, 1993.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Selected PCBs
(Aroclor -1260, -1254, -1248, -1242, -1232, -1221, and -1016), Update, Draft for Public
Comment. October 1991.
- Spivak, G., MDPH Office of State Registrar/Division of Health Statistics. Memorandum to J. Filpus. February 3, 1995.
- Michigan Department of Public Health, Office of the State Registrar and Center for Health Statistics. Memo from Georgia Spivak to Daniel Dolanski. February 18, 1993.
OTHER INFORMATION SOURCES NOT CITED IN TEXT
- IT. 1989. International Technology Corporation, Endangerment Assessment, Packaging Corporation of America Site, May 1989.