PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
OKLAHOMA REFINING COMPANY
CYRIL, CADDO COUNTY, OKLAHOMA
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concluded that the Oklahoma Refining Company site was a public health hazard during its operation based on probable exposure during the release of wastes from the oil refinery process. The site is a public health hazard for on-site trespassers and possibly on-site workers, if unprotected, due to open waste pits, ponds, and traps. However, trespassing is unlikely at this time since a fence has been installed between the active refinery and the pits, ponds, and traps. Future use of contaminated groundwater for drinking water could also pose a public health hazard.
Contaminants associated with the site include volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile compounds, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and petroleum hydrocarbons. Heavy metals and PAHs are the primary contaminants at levels of health concern. Ingestion of wastes and contaminated soil could lead to adverse health effects caused primarily by elevated concentrations of heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Potential human exposure pathways at the site are ingestion of or dermal contact with contaminated soil and waste sources. Contaminated groundwater has not been and is not being used for drinking water. During the operation of Oklahoma Refining Company, ambient air is likely to have been a significant exposure pathway for on-site workers and off-site residents. Residents swimming in Gladys Creek downstream of the ORC site during refinery operations are likely to have been exposed to contaminants in surface water and sediments.
Data inadequacies include information on ambient air concentrations during the operation of
ORC, current ambient air concentrations and meteorological conditions, and heavy metals in
soils of nearby residential yards.
ATSDR recommends the following actions be taken to protect public health:
- Continue to restrict public access to on-site waste pits, ponds, and traps and other areas of
surface contamination. Further restrict assess to areas that are not obvious to trespassers such as
the pit beside the fenced separator area.
- Sample residential yards near the site for heavy metals (particularly arsenic, barium,
chromium and lead) and PAHs.
- Test farming soils irrigated by Gladys Creek during operation of the refinery for metals, if
water was removed immediately downstream of ORC. Prevent use of contaminated sections of
the creek for irrigation.
- Water used at the site for drinking and industrial purposes should come from an
uncontaminated water supply. A notice that shallow groundwater is contaminated should be
attached to the property deed.
- During remediation, continue to monitor water and sediment of Gladys Creek to determine if
contaminants are leaving the site. Measures should be taken to prevent contaminants from
leaving the site via surface water, particularly during remedial activities.
- Include the following actions in the remediation workplan when additional site remediation
Provide adequate personal protective equipment that meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for workers conducting remedial activities in and around the site.
Employ methods of dust suppression if remediation will disturb the ground cover. In addition to on-site air monitoring, appropriate real-time, peripheral air monitoring should be conducted during working hours. Levels of contaminants in ambient air at the periphery of the site should not exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) or NIOSH recommendations. All actions to prevent exposures to contaminants associated with the ORC site during remediation should help protect people working or living on or near the site.
- Due to the volatile nature of some site contaminants and their potential for migration through
ambient air during remediation, ATSDR would like to review remedial work plans to determine
if there are adequate public health safeguards.
- Since the refinery is active and remedial activities will begin, ATSDR recommends establishing background air quality and determining prevailing wind directions near the site (establishing a wind rose).
Health Activities Recommendation Panel
In order, to determine if public health actions are needed, ATSDR's Health Activities
Recommendation Panel (HARP) has evaluated the data and information developed in the
Oklahoma Refining Company Public Health Assessment. Based on the current environmental
data, exposure to contaminants at levels of public health concern are likely to occur if trespassers
or future unprotected on-site workers come in contact with contaminants in pits and
impoundments, surface soil, or waste. Environmental data are not available to evaluate the past
exposure to air contaminants which may have been generated during the operation of the
refinery. HARP has determined that further health actions are indicated for the Oklahoma
Refining Company Site. HARP determined that community health education is needed for area
residents regarding health hazards of on-site contaminants that they may come in contact with
when trespassing on the site, that might include posting signs alerting trespassers of the potential health hazards of site contaminants in pits and impoundments.
The purpose of the Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards but also provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment.
ATSDR will collaborate with appropriate federal, state, and local agencies to pursue the implementation of the environmental recommendations outlined in this public health assessment.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health has provided a fact sheet to explain the potential
health effects of exposure to site contaminants (arsenic, lead, and chromium) (Appendix IV).
Laura H. Barr
Environmental Health Scientist
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment & Consultation
Tina Forrester, Ph.D.
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment & Consultation
Region VI Senior Representative:
- Bechtel Environmental, Inc. Remedial investigation report: Oklahoma Refining Company,
Superfund Site, Cyril, Oklahoma, Volume I, prepared for Oklahoma State Department of Health
and the Environmental Protection Agency. September 1991.
- EPA Administrative Record File Index, March 3, 1992 and December 2, 1993.
- EPA Record of Decision, Oklahoma Refining Company Site, Region VI, June 1992.
- Environmental Protection Agency. Hazard Ranking Score Package, Oklahoma Refinery Site,
Cyril, Oklahoma, May 29, 1986.
- Stanley Engineering, Inc. Environmental and hydrological assessment, Oklahoma Refining
Company, August 1985.
- Oklahoma State Department of Health comments on the ATSDRs public health assessment
for the ORC site. May 1993.
- Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Site Inspection report, Oklahoma Refining Company,
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for arsenic, October 1991.
- Oklahoma State Department of Health, State Environmental Laboratory Service, Report of
Analyses for fish, Whitfield Pond, May 1991.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for barium, July
- Environmental Protection Agency. New Interim Region IV guidance on toxicity equivalency
factors methodology for carcinogenic PAHs. February 11, 1992.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons, December 1990.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for benzene,
- Amdur, MO, Doull, J, and Klaassen, CD. Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons,
Pergamon Press, New York, New York, 1991.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for lead, October 1991.
- Wong O, Morgan RW, Bailey WJ, Swencicki RE, Claxton K, and Kheifets L. An
epidemiological study of petroleum refinery employees. Br J Ind Med 1986;43:6-17.
- Wongsrichanalai C, Delzell E, and Cole P. Mortality from leukemia and other diseases among workers at a petroleum refinery. J Occup Med 1984;26:2.