OUTBOARD MARINE CORPORATION/WAUKEGAN HARBOR
WAUKEGAN, LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS
In the spring of 2003, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) learned about changes atthe Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) site located in Waukegan Harbor, Waukegan, Illinois,and also learned of proposed changes for land use in the area. We have re-evaluated the site totake under consideration the changes that have occurred since the 1998 site review and update(SRU) of the OMC site in Waukegan Harbor (ATSDR 1998). Other operable units will bediscussed in separate health consultations.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) identifies and delineates specific clean-upareas at sites that have been placed on USEPA's National Priorities List for UncontrolledHazardous waste sites (NPL sites, also referred to as Superfund sites). These specific areas arecalled operable units, and USEPA has identified the following three areas as operable units at the OMC site in Waukegan Harbor (Figures 1 and 2):
- Waukegan Harbor
- The Waukegan Manufactured Gas and Coke Plant, and
- The PCB disposal cells.
USEPA anticipates that OMC plant 2 will be designated as a fourth operable unit at the site.
On April 20, 1989, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released apreliminary public health assessment (PHA) for the OMC/Waukegan Harbor site (ATSDR1989). On September 30, 1994, ATSDR released the final version of the PHA for the site(ATSDR 1994). IDPH prepared both documents under a cooperative agreement with ATSDR. Inthe 1994 PHA, IDPH concluded that the site was a public health hazard because people who hadconsumed fish from Waukegan Harbor and Lake Michigan had probably been exposed to levelsof polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that could result in adverse health effects.
On August 7, 1998, ATSDR released a site review and update (SRU) for the OMC site inWaukegan Harbor (ATSDR 1998). This document was also prepared by IDPH under acooperative agreement with ATSDR. IDPH concluded that although the site had beenremediated, eating some fish from Waukegan Harbor and Lake Michigan remained a publichealth hazard. The SRU made the following recommendations for Waukegan Harbor.
- Continue to monitor, as planned, PCBs in fish in and around Waukegan Harbor.
- When eating fish from Lake Michigan, follow the Illinois Fish Advisory for themaximum amounts, species, and sizes of fish, and for the method of preparation.
In July 1998, USEPA awarded the city of Waukegan a Brownfield Development Grant to bringabandoned and contaminated properties back to use. This grant could apply to properties nearWaukegan Harbor (USEPA 2003a).
In December of 2000, the Outboard Marine Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy(reorganization). In August of 2001, the company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation).The OMC bankruptcy trustee abandoned OMC plant 2 in December 2002 (USEPA 2003b).USEPA is concerned that this plant may be a continuing source of PCB contamination forWaukegan Harbor (2002a).
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) dredges the entrance channel to Waukegan Harboronce or twice a year. To date, sediment at the channel entrance has not been contaminated withPCBs, and COE has deposited the material collected into Lake Michigan (COE 2001). TheCorps of Engineers is examining the possibility of dredging Waukegan Harbor itself, and thedredging could begin in 2004 (K. Adler, USEPA, personal communication, 2003). Local, state,and federal agencies are evaluating the option of placing the dredged sediment under a landfillcover to be constructed at the Yeoman Creek Landfill (another NPL site in Waukegan) (USEPA2003c).
A Waukegan Harbor cleanup that ended in 1993 used 50 parts per million (ppm) of PCBs as aclean-up criterion. Because state and federal agencies currently use 0.25 ppm to 1.0 ppm as theclean-up criteria for other sites, USEPA is re-evaluating the adequacy of the initial WaukeganHarbor cleanup. USEPA is planning additional sampling of both sediment and fish, and anticipates having an appropriate clean-up level by September 20, 2004 (USEPA 2002a).
On August 25, 2003, the city of Waukegan approved a master plan by Skidmore Owings andMerrill for redevelopment of downtown and lakefront property (City of Waukegan 2003).
On October 8, 2003, the city proposed developing a Waukegan Lakefront Restoration Center on the OMC plant 2 property. The plans are to have this facility handle all cleanup of contamination in Waukegan Harbor sediment, lakefront soil, and soil from around Waukegan Harbor. Cleaned soil will be returned to the lakefront. Soil that cannot be cleaned will be placed in a landfill at the site of the present OMC plant 2 parking lot. The landfill will only accept materials from harbor and lakefront remediation, and after the landfill is completed, it will become a park. Illinois EPA, or–for Superfund sites–USEPA, would have to approve all clean-up plans and plans for developing the Waukegan Lakefront Restoration Center.
Current land use around Waukegan Harbor is commercial and industrial. The harbor servescommercial shipping, including delivery of raw materials and cement, and barge and tugmooring. It also provides access to marinas and maintenance facilities for recreational boating. Apublic beach is east of the site. As noted in the PHA (ATSDR 1994) and SRU (ATSDR 1998),IDPH staff members have observed people fishing in Waukegan Harbor on several occasions.Charter boats for anglers also operate out of the harbor.
Currently, the nearest residences are about 0.3 miles west of the site up on a bluff. By road,however, the residences are about twice that distance. The 2000 U.S. Census reported that10,492 people lived within 1 mile of the site with Hispanics comprising 47% of the total andAfrican Americans 19%. A USEPA memorandum in 2003 reported a low-income status for 44%of the residents within 1 mile of Waukegan Harbor.
The city of Waukegan bought the 36-acre Waukegan Manufactured Gas and Coke Plantproperty, which borders Waukegan Harbor. The city has rezoned the property for high-densityresidential housing (USEPA 2003b).
A number of plans have been proposed for the future development of the OMC plant 2 property.Among other suggested uses for the OMC property are the following.
- Establish a permanent, continuous parkland edge, to the lakefront
- Relocate industry along the harbor to an area near Interstate 94
- Develop a marina village with housing for boat owners
- Build 2,500 residential units
- Build 100,000 square feet of retail services
- Build a new hotel with meeting rooms
- Construct a modern train station
- Link downtown and lakefront property in a pedestrian-friendly manner
- Develop boat storage facilities
The city projected that residential development near the harbor would begin within 5 years.
During their second 5-year review of the site in the summer of 2002, USEPA asked for publiccomments (2002a). They asked for comments from the Waukegan Community Advisory Groupand placed notices in local newspapers in English and Spanish. The Community Advisory Groupnotified USEPA that because PCB levels in fish were still an issue, they were concerned thatPCBs might be moving from OMC plant 2 into Waukegan Harbor.
USEPA is also concerned that OMC plant 2 may be a continuing source of PCBs enteringWaukegan Harbor and is pursuing an investigation regarding the cleanup of contamination at the plant. A separate health consultation will report on issues related to OMC plant 2.
Chemicals of Interest
IDPH compared the maximum level of each chemical detected during environmental samplingwith appropriate screening comparison values. Comparison values are used to select chemicalsfor further evaluation for both carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic health effects. Chemicals thatexceeded comparison values were selected for further evaluation. A description of thecomparison values is found in Attachment 1.
Comparison values do not represent thresholds of toxicity. Exposure to chemicals that exceedcomparison values does not necessarily cause adverse health effects. Screening values are usedto determine which contaminants need further evaluation. Even though a chemical may be foundat a level greater than its comparison values, it can only affect human health if a person isexposed (comes into contact with the chemical) to a sufficient dose. The amount of thecontaminant, the duration and route of exposure, and the health status of exposed individuals areimportant factors in determining the potential for adverse health effects. The chemicals to beevaluated further at the OMC/Waukegan Harbor site are PCBs.
PCBs in Sediment and Fish of Waukegan Harbor and Vicinity
PCBs were found in Waukegan Harbor sediment samples collected April 17-19, 1996 (Table 1)and in January 2003 (Table 2). All PCB concentrations were below 50 ppm, which was the PCBcriterion used for the initial harbor cleanup. Some of the samples had PCB concentrations abovethe 0.25 ppm to 1.0 ppm criteria currently used by USEPA for sediment cleanups in other states.
Table 3 shows the level of PCBs detected in fish from Waukegan Harbor and Lake Michiganfrom 1997 to 2001. Southern Harbor has a marina and is immediately south of WaukeganHarbor. Lake trout from Lake Michigan equaled the 2 ppm U.S. Food and Drug Administrationguideline for PCBs in fish, while carp from Waukegan Harbor exceeded the guideline.
A hazardous chemical can affect people only if they come into contact with the chemical(through an exposure pathway) at a level high enough to cause adverse health effects. Exposurepathways must be complete for exposure to occur. Exposure pathways have five parts, and allfive parts must be present before a person is exposed. If all of the following five elements exist,the exposure pathway is called a complete or completed exposure pathway.
A source of exposure (where the hazardous substance originates or where it is released).
An environmental medium (such as air or water) in which the hazardous substance existsand may be transported to a place where a person can come into contact with it.
A route of exposure (the way in which a person is exposed). For example, a person canbe exposed by breathing air that contains a hazardous substance.
A point of exposure (the location where a person can come into contact with a hazardoussubstance). If a person breathes in air contaminated with carbon monoxide in a closedgarage, the air in the garage is the point of exposure.
An exposed population (a person or persons exposed to a hazardous substance). If thereis no one exposed to a hazardous substance, the exposure pathway is incomplete.
A pathway is considered complete if all the components are present and people are currentlybeing exposed, were exposed in the past, or could be exposed in the future. Sometimes there aremissing components or insufficient data to decide whether a pathway is complete. If the missingor unidentified part(s) might be present, could have been present in the past, or could be presentin the future, it is considered a potential exposure pathway. If part of a pathway has never beenpresent, and never will be, the pathway is incomplete and is not considered further.
Eating fish contaminated with PCBs is the main exposure pathway at the OMC site. PCBs arevery persistent (stay around for a long time) in the environment and can bioaccumulate in fish,meaning that the levels of PCBs increase as larger fish eat smaller fish (ATSDR 2000). If anorganism absorbs a chemical faster than it is eliminated from its body, it will accumulate thechemical. In the food chain, animals may eat large quantities of contaminated prey. Withchemicals that bioaccumulate, this can cause higher concentrations in organisms at higher levelsof the food chain. For example, zooplankton can have higher concentrations of bioaccumulatingchemicals than the phytoplankton they eat. The fish that eat the zooplankton have higherconcentrations than the zooplankton, and larger fish that eat smaller fish have even higherconcentrations. This process of increased concentrations in organisms in the food chain is calledbiomagnification. PCBs bioaccumulate and biomagnify because they dissolve easily in fat, donot dissolve easily in water, and are not easily broken down and eliminated. Fish and otherorganisms can accumulate these chemicals by absorption from the water column, by coming intocontact with contaminated sediment (in place or suspended in the water column), and throughthe food chain (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1986).
Many factors influence the uptake and bioaccumulation of PCBs in fish and other organisms.Fish living permanently in a contaminated area could have higher PCB concentrations than fishin uncontaminated areas. Bottom feeders, which have frequent contact with sediment andincidental consumption of sediment, accumulate PCBs readily. Older and larger fish would beexpected to have higher concentrations of PCBs. Fast-growing species should have lower PCBconcentrations. Fish with more fat should accumulate higher PCB concentrations. Fish that livein cold water have a slower metabolism and cannot eliminate PCBs as rapidly as fish that live inwarmer waters, so they tend to accumulate higher levels of PCBs.
Persons Potentially Exposed to PCBs in Fish
Currently, nearby residents must travel at least 0.6 miles by road to fish in Waukegan Harbor.However, the city of Waukegan has rezoned the Waukegan Manufactured Gas and Coke Plantproperty for high-density residential housing. Completion of this housing could bring a largepopulation of people to the immediate vicinity, which could increase the number of anglers andthe frequency of angling in and near Waukegan Harbor. A study of anglers in Illinois, Indiana,Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin who ate fish from theGreat Lakes found that, overall, many of the anglers (49%), women (61%), and minorities (78%)in Illinois who ate Great Lakes fish were unaware of fish advisories (Tilden et al. 1997).
This study also found that not many of the people who were aware of fish advisories followedthe recommendations to reduce exposure to contaminants in fish (Tilden et al. 1997). Peoplewho do not follow the Illinois Fish Advisory guidelines will likely increase their exposure toPCBs and other contaminants.
Currently, 68% of the persons living within 1 mile of Waukegan Harbor belong to a minoritygroup, and 44% of the persons living within 1 mile have low-income status. Persons who havelow incomes are more likely to depend on fish for subsistence. Unless PCB levels in fishdecrease, subsistence fish eaters who do not follow the Illinois Fish Advisory for Lake Michigancould be exposed to elevated levels of PCBs.
IDPH estimated cancer rates using USEPA cancer slope factors, USEPA fish consumption rates(1997), and the average PCB concentration in Waukegan Harbor fish. IDPH also assumed that people would eat fish from Waukegan Harbor for 30 years. Using these assumptions, eating fishfrom Waukegan Harbor could pose a low increased cancer risk for recreational anglers and amoderate increased cancer risk for subsistence fish eaters. Cancer risks could be greatly reducedby following the Illinois Fish Advisory recommendations. These have been recently updated andcan be found at http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadv/fishadvisory04.htm (IDPH 2004).
Because 12-25 feet of water cover the harbor sediments, human exposure to contaminatedsediments is considered to be negligible. Contaminated sediment is apparently the primarysource of PCBs that bioaccumulate in the food chain, including fish, of the Waukegan Harborarea. PCB concentrations in Waukegan Harbor sediment samples are shown in Tables 1 and 2.
PCBs do not dissolve well in water. Even before the initial Waukegan Harbor cleanup, PCB concentrations in the harbor and open lake were low (ATSDR 1994). Consequently, contamination of the Waukegan municipal water supply with PCBs was–and is–unlikely.
Eating contaminated fish and ignoring the Illinois Fish Advisory may expose anglers and theirfamilies to elevated levels of PCBs (past, present, future). These chemicals can cause livercancer in rats, and USEPA considers PCBs to be probable human carcinogens. Cancers causedby chemical exposure often do not appear until 10 years or more after exposure; consequently,cancers could still arise from past exposure to contaminated fish. Cancers caused by exposure tochemicals cannot be distinguished from cancers that occur from other causes.
An average recreational or subsistence angler who eats fish from Waukegan Harbor containingPCBs at concentrations above 2 ppm would exceed the chronic and intermediate minimal risklevel (MRL) guidelines for PCBs. Subtle neurological effects may occur in the infants of womenwho eat large quantities of fish contaminated with PCBs. These effects are discussed in thefollowing Child Health Considerations section. A study of people 50 to 90 years of age who atemore than 24 pounds of Great Lakes fish per year found no neurological effects related to PCBexposure. In studies of animals that consumed fish with PCB levels similar to those in some fishfrom Waukegan Harbor and Lake Michigan, researchers have observed immunologicaldepression and more serious reproductive effects. PCBs can decrease reproductive success inanimals, but human studies of these effects have been less clear (ATSDR 2000).
For anglers in the Waukegan area, the greatest risk for adverse health effects would be for peoplewho regularly ate PCB-contaminated fish from the harbor itself. The risk should decrease withfish obtained at increasing distances from the harbor. Sediment remediation also should havedecreased the risk. Future residential development of the harbor, however, could increase thenumber of potential anglers. Therefore, human exposure could increase unless PCBconcentrations in fish decrease.
Subtle neurological effects may occur in the infants of women who eat large quantities of fishcontaminated with PCBs. Health effects have included decreased reflexes, motor immaturity,and lower psychomotor scores in children between 6 months and 2 years of age. Some of theseneurological effects may persist into later childhood. In one study, statistical analyses suggestedthat PCBs rather than other contaminants in the fish caused the observed neurological effects.Results of human studies of birth weight and infant growth after maternal PCB consumptionhave been inconsistent (ATSDR 2000).
PCB contamination in some fish from Waukegan Harbor and Lake Michigan continues to be apublic health hazard. Future residential development of harbor property could result in morepeople fishing in the area thus increasing the potential human exposure to PCBs in fish unlessPCB concentrations in fish in the harbor decrease. Following the recommendations for LakeMichigan in the Illinois Fish Advisory will reduce the risk of adverse health effects for thosepersons who eat fish caught in Waukegan Harbor.
Contaminated sediment of Waukegan Harbor poses no apparent public health hazard because itcovered by 12-25 feet of water, and direct human exposure is considered negligible. This sediment is apparently the primary source of the PCBs that bioaccumulate in the food chain,including fish, found in the Waukegan Harbor area.
IDPH makes the following recommendations for the OMC site.
- Monitoring of PCB levels in fish in and around Waukegan Harbor should continue. Thestate of Illinois will continue to sample and monitor fish in the Waukegan Harbor as part of the fish advisory program.
- People eating fish from Lake Michigan should follow the fish advisories of the state ofIllinois for the maximum amounts, species, and sizes to be consumed, as well as the method ofpreparation. A copy of the Illinois Fishing Information guide can be obtained by calling theIllinois Department of Natural Resources at 217-782-6424.
- USEPA should continue to evaluate the adequacy of the initial sediment cleanup ofWaukegan Harbor.
When the new housing on the harbor property is completed, IDPH will provide individuals in thearea with health education information explaining the PCB contamination in the area and theIllinois Fish Advisory. These materials will be provided in English and in other languages, asappropriate.
Thomas A. Baughman, Ph.D.
Illinois Department of Public Health
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 2000. Toxicological profile forpolychlorinated biphenyls. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services. AccessedMay and June 2003. Available from: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp17.html.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1989. Preliminary health assessment forOutboard Marine Corporation, Waukegan, Illinois. Atlanta: US Department of Health andHuman Services.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1994. Public health assessment for OutboardMarine Corporation, Waukegan, Illinois. Atlanta: US Department of Health and HumanServices.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1998. Site review and update for OutboardMarine Corporation. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services.
City of Waukegan. 2003. WaukeganVision.com. Accessed October 2003. Available from:http://www.waukeganvision.com/DraftPrinciples/DefaultJune23.asp.
Illinois Department of Public Health. 2004. Illinois Fish Advisory Web Site.http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadv/fishadvisory04.htm. Accessed April 14, 2004.
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. 1997-2001. Illinois EPA DWPC monitoring unitlaboratory sheets, fish tissue samples.
Tilden J, Hanrahan LP, Anderson H, Palit C, Olson J, MacKenzie W, and the Great Lakes SportFish Consortium. 1997. Health advisories for consumers of Great Lakes sport fish: Is themessage being received? Environ Health Perspect 105:1360-5.
US Army Corps of Engineers. 1986. Site selection study: Waukegan Harbor, Illinois, ConfinedDredged Disposal Facility. US Army Corps of Engineers.
US Army Corps of Engineers. 2001. Contaminant determination for Waukegan Harbor advancedmaintenance area dredging and open water disposal. US Army Corps of Engineers. AccessedMay 14, 2003. Available from: http://www.lrc.usace.army.mil/topics/Wauktest.htm.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 1997. Exposure factors handbook volume II: foodingestion factors. EPA/600/P-95-002Fb. US Environmental Protection Agency. August.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2002a. Five-year review report: second five-year reviewreport for Outboard Marine Corporation Superfund Site, Waukegan, Lake County, IL.September. Accessed April 2003. Available at:http://www.epa.gov/R5Super/fiveyear/reviews_pdf/illinois/outboard_marine.pdf.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2002b. Evaluation of the toxicity and bioaccumulation ofcontaminants in sediments from Waukegan Harbor, Illinois. August 1. Accessed May 2003.Available from: <http://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/sediment/waukegan/whrpt.pdf ;http://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/sediment/waukegan/appendix.pdf; andhttp://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/sediment/waukegan/table.pdf.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2002c. Outboard Marine Corporation, Waukegan, LakeCounty, Illinois: Discovery site visit report. Prepared by Tetra Tech EM, Inc. May 10.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2003a. Great Lakes: Waukegan Harbor area of concern.Accessed May 14, 2003. Available from: http://www.epa.gov/grtlakes/aoc/waukegan.html.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2003b. NPL fact sheets for Illinois: Outboard MarineCorp., EPA ID#ILD000802827. January. Accessed May 14, 2003. Available at:http://www.epa.gov/R5Super/npl/illinois/ILD000802827.htm.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2003c. NPL fact sheets for Illinois: Yeoman CreekLandfill, EPA ID#ILD980500102. January. Accessed June 27, 2003. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/R5Super/npl/illinois/ILD980500102.htm.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2003d. Waukegan Harbor sediment data, collectedJanuary 2003.
US Environmental Protection Agency. 2003e. January 23 Action Memorandum: Request for a[sic] emergency removal action at the Outboard Marine (OMC) Site, Waukegan, Lake County,IL, Site ID# 0528. US Environmental Protection Agency.
The Illinois Department of Public Health prepared this Outboard Marine Corporation site healthconsultation under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and DiseaseRegistry (ATSDR). It was done in accordance with methods and procedures approved at the time the health consultation was begun.
W. Allen Robison
Technical Project Officer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch (SAAB)
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)
The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this health consultation and concurs with its findings.
Gail D. Godfrey
for Roberta Erlwein
Team Leader, State Programs
SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR
|Location||PCB Concentration (ppm*)|
*ppm = parts per million
|Location||Depth Below Sediment Surface (inches)||Concentration (ppm)|
|About 800 feet offshore from Waukegan Harbor|
|Inner Harbor Extension|
|Inner Harbor Extension|
ppm = parts per million.
N.D. = not detected.
|Year||Location||Carp||Chinook Salmon||Coho Salmon||Rainbow Trout||Brown Trout||Lake Trout||Smallmouth Bass||Largemouth Bass||White Sucker||FDA Action Level|
|1997||Offshore Waukegan Harbor||--||--||--||--||--||0.32-1.8||--||--||--||2.0|
|1999||Southern Harbor and Diversey (Cook County composite)||--||0.25-0.68||0.58||--||--||--||--||--||--||2.0|
|1999||Southern Harbor and North Point Marina Harbor (composite)||--||--||--||0.82||0.63-1.2||--||--||--||--||2.0|
|1999||Southern Harbor and Jackson Harbor||--||--||--||0.89||--||--||--||--||--||2.0|
|1999||Lake Michigan East of Waukegan Harbor, 75 ft.-126 ft. depths||--||--||--||--||--||0.49-2.0||--||--||--||2.0|
|2001||Lake Michigan Harbors, unspecified||--||--||--||0.24||--||--||--||--||--||2.0|
-- = data not available
FDA = US Food and Drug Administration.