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PETITIONED PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

COUNTRY CLUB LAKE ESTATES
HATTIESBURG, FORREST COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI


SUMMARY

The Davis Timber Company site is in a rural area of southeastern Mississippi, approximately six miles northwest of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The facility has operated since 1966, using pentachlorophenol as a wood preservative between the years of 1972 and 1987. The state of Mississippi has documented intentional and accidental releases from the facility's waste-water treatment holding pond and the regulatory actions that resulted. Fish kills that occurred on the lakes downstream of the Davis Timber Company site have also been documented. The state of Mississippi petitioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to conduct a public health assessment of Country Club Lake Estates, a lake and residential community directly downstream of the Davis Timber Company site.

Country Club Lake Estates is situated along Mineral Creek, approximately one mile downstream from the Davis Timber Company site. Mineral Creek, Country Club Lake, and a privately owned lake have been contaminated by chemical products similar to those found on site at the Davis Timber Company site.

Pentachlorophenol, polychlorinated dioxins, and polychlorinated furans were detected in surface water, sediment, and fish downstream from the timber company. Environmental media needing further investigation include off-site groundwater and fish downstream.

The residential community surrounding Country Club Lake, homes along Mineral Creek, and other lake and stream users are likely to have been exposed to those contaminants. The maximum concentration of contaminants found in fish samples is sufficient to cause disease, if consumed on a regular basis. ATSDR has classified the site a public health hazard because of concentrations of contaminants in fish samples.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recommends, in this petitioned public health assessment, actions to reduce and prevent exposure to contaminants. ATSDR also recommends more in-depth site characterization. ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel recommends community health education as a health follow-up action. ATSDR will implement community health education measures.


BACKGROUND

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a federal agency within the U.S Department of Health and Human Services that has been authorized by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to conduct health assessments of hazardous waste releases into the environment. ATSDR was petitioned in December of 1989 by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to evaluate Country Club Lake Estates. In response to the petition, ATSDR developed this public health assessment. The public health assessment underwent a 30-day technical review by the Environmental Protection Agency, Mississippi Department of Health, and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in July and August of 1992. Comments were incorporated into the public health assessment. The document was released for public comment in November of 1992. No comments were received during the 30-day public comment period.

For the purpose of this petitioned public health assessment, the former Davis Timber Company, the source of chemical contamination, is referred to as the site. Environmental media within the Davis Timber Company property boundaries have been referred to throughout the document as being on site. Country Club Lake Estates and other surrounding areas are referred to as off-site properties.

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

The Davis Timber Company site is approximately six miles northwest of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in Lamar County. The facility has been a timber processing and wood preserving operation. Operations included bark removal, treatment with pentachlorophenol, and product storage. The company began operations in 1966 as a producer of untreated poles at another nearby location. The plant began treating operations at the present location in 1972, using pentachlorophenol as a wood preservative (1). The treatment operations were discontinued in 1987 due to state regulatory actions (2). Davis Timber Company closed in 1990 and Lamar Wood Products continued previous operations, which did not include chemical wood treatment. The main source of contamination from the Davis Timber Company facility was a waste-water treatment holding pond that was designed as an evaporation pond. That pond intermittently released waste-water into Mineral Creek. There have been a number of fish kills associated with those releases and there have been follow-up enforcement actions taken by the state (documented fish kills are listed in Appendix C). Site access is unrestricted. The plant is located on a rise and drains into both east and west forks of Mineral Creek. Mineral Creek discharges into the Bowie River. Figures 1 and 2 depict the local features (all figures are in Appendix A) (3).

The Country Club Lake Estates residential community is approximately one mile downstream from the Davis Timber Company site. The community consists of about 100 homes that surround a 66-acre impoundment identified as Country Club Lake (4).

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) analyzed two fish tissue samples in response to a request from the state in 1988. The analysis identified the presence of dioxins (5). As a result of those tests, the state recommended that local residents not consume fish from the Country Club Lake. Signs were placed along the perimeter of the lake advising the public not to consume fish from the lake because of the levels of contamination. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is concerned about potential health effects of residents of the Country Club Lake Estates, as well as other residents in the area (5). There is a privately owned lake approximately two miles downstream of Country Club Lake. There is evidence of contamination in that lake as well.

B. SITE VISIT

Mr. Robert Safay, ATSDR's Region IV representative, and Mr. Donald Joe, representing the Division of Health Assessment and Consultation of ATSDR, visited the site on April 11, 1990. They met with representatives of MDEQ and representatives of the Forrest County Health Department.

They also held a meeting with an attorney representing homeowners whose properties might have been affected by the release of contaminants. The attorney also represents the owner of the private lake that is downstream from Country Club Lake. The owner of the private lake has collected data that he feels indicates his lake is also contaminated. During the visit with the attorney, photographs were presented that showed area children fishing and swimming in the lakes.

The Davis Timber Company and Country Club Lake Estates were visited for visual inspection. Observations were noted regarding nearby homes, wells, watershed, and other features of the area. Information was also collected concerning sensitive populations, use of the stream and lakes, fish sampling, and the local fish advisory and commercial fishing ban.

C. DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

Demographics

The Davis Timber Company site is in Lamar County, while much of Mineral Creek and the downstream lakes, including Country Club Lake Estates, are in adjacent Forrest County. Based on 1990 census population data, Forrest County's population numbers 68,314; with Lamar County having a total population of 30,424. Hattiesburg, a city of 41,882, is approximately six miles southeast of the Davis Timber Company site (6). There are approximately 100 homes in the area surrounding and immediately downstream of the site. The actual number of residents in the area is not known. The homes observed during the site visit represent middle income housing (4). Rawls Springs Elementary School (k-5), which is located 2.5 miles northeast of the site, currently enrolls 224 children (7).

Land Use

The Country Club Lake Estates, roughly one mile downstream from the site, is a residential development with a golf course and a 66-acre lake which was used for boating, swimming, and sport fishing (4). The Country Club Lake is currently under a fishing advisory, prohibiting commercial fishing. Two miles downstream of Country Club Lake lies a privately owned lake, covering 62-acres, which has been used for recreational fishing and swimming (8).

Within one mile of the Davis Timber Company site are three residential subdivisions. One is approximately a half mile south, another is a quarter mile east, and one a mile northeast of the site. Currently, there are no zoning laws restricting development in this area of Forrest County (9).

The northwest area of Forrest County, around Country Club Lake Estates, is made up of forest, with timber being a major resource. Small cattle farms exist throughout the county. Some of the more popular recreational activities include hunting, fishing, swimming, and canoeing (10).

The area in northeast Lamar County, surrounding the site, is predominantly forest with some subdivisions and cattle farming. There is also some light industry in the area. Lamar County is expecting between seven and fifteen percent residential growth. No zoning laws exist; however, the county has subdivision regulations that govern the engineering of roads, septic tank use, and water systems (11).

Natural Resources Use

Both the Country Club Lake and the private lake further down Mineral Creek have been used for fishing. However, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality issued a warning on Country Club Lake in May of 1990 advising the public not to consume fish from the lake. Hunting is known to have taken place in the area immediately surrounding the Davis Timber Company site (12). A variety of small and big game are being hunted for human consumption. The golf course, at Country Club Lake Estates, has been irrigated with water from the lake. Although there were no formal beaches or diving platforms, the lakes have been used for swimming (4).

The Mississippi Wildlife Department sold 4,158 fishing licenses in Forrest County and 4,935 in Lamar County during the 1990 year. Mississippi game laws require that a license be obtained to fish in public lakes or streams. Those laws do not apply to fishing on private lakes (13).

Groundwater in the area near the site is used for domestic purposes. There are some private wells in the area, particularly to the south and southeast of the site (4). A well survey has been conducted and most homes are supplied by wells operated by area utility companies (14). The Johnson Utility Company operates public wells approximately 1.5 miles from the site (15). The Johnson Utility Company wells obtain water from 750-feet deep wells (16). Arnold Line Water Association, another utility that supplies water to residents in the area, has water wells approximately two miles from the Davis Timber Company site (17). Arnold Line Water Association has three wells, with numbers one and three reaching a depth of 800 feet and number two, a depth of 770 feet (18). All of the wells are cased and tap into the Miocene aquifer (16). There is some uncertainty as to the actual direction of groundwater flow, possibly ranging from the southeast to the southwest. The groundwater, as monitored at the Davis Timber Company site during August 1987, flows southeast (19). Additional monitoring wells would provide a more accurate account of groundwater flow.

The local geology is defined by the Hattiesburg formation of Miocene age. That formation has thickly-bedded clays running 150-200 feet thick. Site specific data from monitoring well borings revealed clay, clayey silt, silty clay, and sandy clay (20).

Meteorological conditions such as rainfall and evaporation influence the area lakes. The average annual rainfall for this area of Mississippi is 60 inches, with an average annual lake evaporation of just under 46 inches (3).

D. Health Outcome Data

Health outcome data are not available. No data relevant to the site could be found at the county or state levels, or at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

The petitioner for this petitioned public health assessment is the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, who has petitioned on behalf of the residents of the Country Club Lake Estates near Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

  1. The state is concerned about possible health effects from consumption of dioxin contaminated fish from Country Club Lake (5).
  2. One community resident wrote MDEQ to voice concern about his health, his family's health, and the health of others who have used the lake for recreational activities or who have eaten fish from the lake (21).

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