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PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

AMERICAN CREOSOTE WORKS, INCORPORATED
(WINNFIELD PLANT)
WINNFIELD, WINN PARISH, LOUISIANA


SUMMARY

The 34.21-acre American Creosote site is a former wood treating facility located in the city ofWinnfield, Winn Parish, Louisiana. Various owners have utilized the site since 1901 untiloperations ceased in 1985. Most recently, the American Creosote facility used creosote andpentachlorophenol to pressure treat telephone poles, railroad crossties, and lumber. Contaminantsof concern include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, pentachlorophenol (PCP),and dioxin (2,3,7,8, TCDD). The site was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency'sNational Priorities List (NPL) in 1992.

The site is bordered by a small creek, Creosote Branch, on the north and east, Front Street on thewest, and a residential access road to the south and east. Completed exposure to these chemicalson the site and at the Creosote branch probably have occurred via incidental ingestion and dermalcontact with soil, sediment, surface water and inhalation of air. Records indicate children in thearea have used the site as a ballfield and playground. Potential exposure may occur via ingestionand dermal contact with soil, sediment at Port du Luce, ingestion of biota at Creosote Branch andPort du Luce, and inhalation of fugitive dust, however, sampling data on biota, residential yards,and fugitive dust have not been collected. The population at highest risk of exposure are residentsparticularly children who live adjacent to American Creosote and play at the banks of CreosoteBranch, residents trespassing the site or living at the site border, and residents involved inrecreational activities at the Creosote branch and Port du Luce.

Currently groundwater represents no health threat because no public wells are installed in thecontaminated shallow aquifer, i.e, 5 to 30 feet deep. Potential exposure to contaminatedgroundwater would be possible if contamination does migrate off the site and residential wellswere installed within the contaminated area or if the shallow aquifer is used as a source of potablewater.

Citizens have raised several questions and comments related to health effects from exposure tosite related contaminants. Concerns were expressed regarding the safety of the municipal watersupply, the potential for carcinogenic and neurological effects from exposure to site contaminants,and concern over eating fish and game.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Health Activities RecommendationPanel and Louisiana's Office of Public Health, Section of Environmental Epidemiology (SEE)have evaluated the American Creosote public health assessment for appropriate follow up healthactions. It was determined that a health professions education program and a community healtheducation should be conducted to inform area residents and health practitioners about the natureof the site and potential health effects resulting from exposure to contaminants. Because there areindications that people have been exposed to site contaminants and because of area residentsconcerns of possible site-related cancers, a health statistics review should be conducted on cancerdata and any other available health outcome data. The site should be considered for inclusion in amulti-site study of health effects and wood treating facilities.

BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

The 34.21-acre American Creosote site is a former wood treating facility less than one-half milefrom the city of Winnfield, Winn Parish, Louisiana (Figure 1.1). The site is bordered by CreosoteBranch (a small creek with banks 10 to 12 feet high) on the north and east, Front Street on thewest, and a residential access road to the south and east. Since 1901, the site was operated byvarious owners and finally obtained by Stallworth Timber Company in 1979. The facility wasabandoned by Stallworth Timber Company in 1985. In March, 1987, Louisiana Department ofEnvironmental Quality (LDEQ) referred this site to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)for studies to evaluate the nature and extent of contamination. The site was placed on theNational Priorities List (NPL) in 1992.

A site investigation was initiated by EPA's Emergency Response Branch on March 19, 1987. In1988, EPA ordered the Stallworth Timber Company to fence the site and remove chemicals fromthe on-site laboratory, and the company complied. EPA Region 6 performed a Removal Action inMarch and July of 1988 to prevent oils and sludges seeping out of the storage tanks from flowingthrough the site drainage ditches into Creosote Branch. In 1989, EPA issued an AdministrativeOrder directing the company to address the imminent threats posed by the site. Stallworthdeclined to comply with the Order necessitating EPA action. EPA conducted an emergencyremoval action to temporarily stabilize the site from April 1989 until August 1989.

During active operation, the American Creosote facility used pressure treatment with creosoteand pentachlorophenol in the manufacture of telephone poles, railroad crossties, and treatedlumber. Untreated timber was debarked and staged on the south side of the site, railed intopressure vessels for treatment, and then to layout yards on the north side for drying and shipment. Prior to the 1989 removal action by EPA, the American Creosote site consisted of the following:1) fifteen large storage tanks, 2) three large and six small pressure treating units (cookers), 3)three office maintenance sheds, 4) a tool and dye shop, 5) a gasoline pump with undergroundstorage tanks, 6) five monitoring wells, 7) a small chemical laboratory west of the plant area nearFront Street and the site access road, 8) a sludge pit, 9) a lagoon that has been backfilled withwoodchips, and 10) a pond on the northeastern portion of the site. Historical aerial photographsindicate that additional lagoons were present during the 1950's in an area east of the process area. A swampy area, covering approximately 5 acres, extends eastward from the backfilled lagoon areaalong a small drainage course that flows into Creosote Branch. Historically, according toDepartment of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reports, the swampy area has been covered by a fewinches to about one foot of tar-like material.

Hazardous substances, including various polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins,benzene, and pentachlorophenol, were found in site soils, liquids, and sludges in the plant area, thesludge lagoon, site drainage courses, and Creosote Branch. The shallow aquifer (5 to 30 feetdeep) underlying the site was found to be contaminated with PAHs, benzene and phenols. Wellsscreened at 5 to 20 feet were reported to contain one foot of floating creosote and several inchesof floating oils.

Two drainage ditches originate on the site near the plant area and a third traverses the site fromsouth to north. From west to east the depths of the ditches are 1-2 feet, 3-5 feet, and 8-12 feet. Pools of black, tar-like material can be observed in the banks of the drainage ditches. Rainfallrunoff washes this material from the ditches to Creosote Branch which continues on for about twomiles to the confluence with Port de Luce Creek, which flows for another three miles to thesoutheast, then joins Cedar Creek before emptying into the Dugdemona River. This river is oneof the larger waterways in the Winnfield area and ultimately drains into the Little River in thesoutheastern section of Winn Parish. The State of Louisiana Stream Control Commission beganinvestigations at the American Creosote facility in 1966, citing high levels of phenols and a highbiological demand (BOD) in plant discharges, and identified phenol and creosote releases intoCreosote Branch.

B. Site Visit

Ms. Diane Dugas, Dr. Lina Balluz, and Mr. Jeffery Purvis from the Louisiana Department ofHealth and Hospitals, Office of Public Health, Section of Environmental Epidemiology (SEE) andthe American Creosote primary investigator from the Louisiana Department of EnvironmentalQuality (DEQ), visited the site area on May 15, 1992. The following observations were all madeon the site:

  1. The site is fenced. There were signs "Hazardous Waste " signs at different locations around the fence. The gate was locked without a sign on it. A young child could enter around the gate onto the site.
  2. The site is bounded on two sides by Creosote Branch, which is a perennial creek that flows through the western and northern part of the site. An oily sheen was observed on the creek.
  3. Black material and an oily sheen were observed leaking from the site edges into Creosote Branch, the DEQ representative mentioned it was creosote.
  4. Oily sheens and creosote were observed in the ditches on the site.
  5. The on-site surface soil had spots of creosote and a bad smell could be detected during the few hours that were spent on the site.
  6. The site has no vegetative cover, however the surrounding property does.
  7. We observed one rusty pressure vessel with a "Hazardous Waste Inside" sign and several drums marked "Potential Hazardous Waste".
  8. The DEQ representative mentioned that there are gas storage tanks underground.
  9. Five monitoring wells were observed.
  10. Deer prints were observed.
  11. Although it was reported that the site was used by the children in the area as a ball field andplayground, no evidence of this was seen.

The site was visited again in conjunction with a January 13, 1993 public meeting held by the SEE. No significant additional observations were noted from previous visits.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

The American Creosote site is within the corporate limits of Winnfield in Winn Parish, total 1990population 17,606. The racial breakdown of the parish is: white - 69.7%, black - 28.5%, andother races - 0.8%. There are two communities near the site, the city of Winnfield, where theAmerican Creosote site is located and the city of Joyce, approximately 2 miles from the site. According to local public health unit staff, the approximately 2,300 persons within a one mileradius of the site live in low income housing.

Residential neighborhoods are present in all directions from the site. Winnfield has a populationof approximately 7,000 residents. Numerous businesses and private residences are within the citylimits, which cover approximately two square miles. Joyce has approximately 180 residences anda population of 600 residents. A housing development lies to the south of the American Creosotesite along McLeod and Watts Streets. The closest residence is 200 feet from the site. Most ofthe residences use the Winnfield Water System as their source of potable water.

Within an approximately 2 mile radius of the site are the schools of 1) Winnfield Primary Schoolwith 520 enrolled students and 70 employees, 2) Winnfield Intermediate School with 350 enrolledstudents and 39 employees, 3) Winnfield Kindergarten Annex with 100 enrolled students and 20employees, and 4) Huey P. Long Memorial Trade School with 120 enrolled students and 19employees. There are 7 churches within approximately a 2 mile radius from the site.

Land Use

Outside the Winnfield city limits, the area is primarily rural with very few residences. This land ispredominantly forests and cypress swamps with intermittent agricultural production. Limitedfarming occurs near the site. The forest lands in the area support recreational uses such ashunting, fishing, camping, and hiking.

Natural Resource Use

Impacted groundwater in the site area is in two shallow aquifers. A shallow (5-30 feet deep)aquifer and a lower aquifer at 55 to 65 feet deep. Groundwater from these aquifers are not usedin the vicinity of the site as a drinking water source. The Municipal Water Supply for the area isdrawn from the deep aquifer at depths from 480 to 600 feet.

According to Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, 12 water wells arewithin a one mile radius of the site at depths ranging from 480 feet to 600 feet. Of these 12 wells,three are public water supply, three are abandoned public water supply, five are test wells, andone is an observation well.

Groundwater flow direction of the shallow aquifers is to the north towards Creosote Branch. Surface water uses in the vicinity of the site includes: swimming, water skiing, fishing, andwading.

According to the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, average annual rainfall in the area is about 50inches. The heaviest rainfall is in April and May. Flood-producing rains may occur during anymonth of the year and average about 54 days per year.

D. Health Outcome Data

Office of Vital Statistics:

The Office of Vital Statistics has been officially collecting vital statistics in Louisiana since 1877when the Louisiana Legislature transferred the Orleans Parish Vital Records Registry to theLouisiana Board of Health. The office is a participator in the national birth and death registrationsystem and provides stillbirth and marriage data to the National Center for Health Statistics andInduced Abortion data to Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Certificates of vital events andreports of communicable diseases are available by address from 1960 to the present upon request. In addition, a monograph displaying trends in disease by Parish is produced annually.

The population estimates used are from the 1990 U.S. Bureau of the Census and Louisiana StateUniversity.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

A public meeting was conducted in Winnfield at the local parish health unit on January 13, 1993by the SEE. Notification of the meeting was released through articles in the three majornewspapers servicing the area and the local newspaper. In addition, the two television stationsand the local radio station servicing the area made announcements prior to the meeting. Thepurpose of the meeting was to inform residents about the public health assessment process and tocollect residents' public health questions, concerns, and comments concerning the site. Ms.Dianne Dugas and Mr. Kenneth Lanier from SEE presented this information to the 21 people whoattended the meeting.

After the presentation the residents were asked to express their concerns, make comments, andask questions. The primary concern was whether or not the municipal drinking water supply iscontaminated with compounds from the site. Residents also wanted to know the health effects ofexposure to these compounds and if any are carcinogenic. Several people mentioned that thereappeared to be a high incidence of cancer in the area and wondered if all carcinogens known toexist on the site would be tested in the drinking water and the air.

Several people wondered if site contaminants could cause neurological problems or such diseasesas lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), demyelinating polyneuropathy, or fibrositis.

Residents were also concerned about the depth of on-site soil contamination and what effects thiscould have. Several residents stated that drums were buried on the site during the EPAstabilization effort and that from their knowledge of past activities there were several "hot spots"that the previous owners created.

The area residents mentioned witnessing children trespassing the site and commented that thefence surrounding the site was not contiguous. They also said that in the past children used toswim in the pond on the site.

Other past activities on the site included loggers driving tractors across Creosote Branch anddisturbing the sediment; fishing, crawfishing, and deer hunting were also mentioned as pastactivities occurring on the site. There is currently maintenance activity on gas and municipalwater lines on the site. Occasional flooding results in surface water runoff into Creosote Branchdraining into the Dugdemona River where activities, such as hunting, fishing, canoeing,crawfishing, camping, and swimming, occur.

In addition to concern over exposure from eating fish and game, which were exposed to sitecontaminants, residents expressed concern as to whether there was any contamination of thenearby dairy that operated east of the site. Following the meeting, additional concerns wereexpressed regarding the use of dynamite on the site. Residents were curious as to whether theDepartment of Energy activity in the nearby salt mines may have affected the site. Severalresidents reiterated their knowledge of large quantities of contaminants buried on the site by theprevious owners.

Responses to residents' questions are provided in the Community Health Concerns Evaluationsection.


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