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PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

NATIONAL SOUTHWIRE ALUMINUM COMPANY
HAWESVILLE, HANCOCK COUNTY, KENTUCKY


CONCLUSIONS

  1. Based on the information reviewed, ATSDR has concluded that the National Southwire Aluminum Company site poses a public health hazard. This conclusion is based on the evidence that exposures have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur in the future to substances at concentrations that may cause adverse health effects. Maintenance workers and other on-site workers at the waste areas were probably exposed in the past and may be currently exposed to fluoride through soil ingestion at levels of public health concern.
  2. On-site workers and nearby residents who live in the vicinity of the site have been exposed and may still be exposed to aluminum, arsenic, cobalt, cyanide, manganese and nickel through skin contact or soil or water ingestion. However, adverse health effects are not likely to occur because of exposure to low levels of contaminants. Moreover, scientific data are very limited on the health effects of multiple contaminant exposure.

    Pregnant women exposed to lead can pass lead to their unborn children; lead is particularly dangerous for the developing fetus. Lead also causes slow growth and learning problems for infants. Because of the lack of adequate environmental guidelines, health comparison values, and blood lead levels of the exposed population, it is not possible to determine whether any of these health effects may occur.

  3. Maintenance workers on site and construction workers involved in foundation excavation for the cooling tower on site are likely to have been exposed to PCBs in soils. However, adverse health effects are not likely to occur because of exposure to low levels of PCBs in typical surface soils, and the short duration and infrequent exposures to PCBs in subsurface soils from the cooling tower excavation.
  4. Residents who use the Hawesville, Tell City, Cannelton, Troy, Lewisport, East Daviess, and Evansville water systems have been exposed and may still be exposed to fluoride, manganese, and arsenic through drinking water. However, adverse health effects are unlikely to occur because of exposure to low levels of contaminants.
  5. Potential pathways of human exposure to aluminum, arsenic, cyanide, fluoride, and nickel on site include the dump pad and plant wastes such as waste process water, pond and ditch sediment, and pond and ditch water. Certain garden vegetables and fish consumption off site are also potential pathways for human exposure to environmental contaminants. NSA air emissions could contribute to the fluoride found in garden vegetables. Residents who have vegetable gardens in the immediate vicinity of NSA are also potentially exposed to fluoride through ingestion of garden produce. However, ATSDR is unable to determine whether adverse health effects will occur in the absence of environmental data.

    Discharges by other industries may account for the PCBs and other chemicals found in fish, as ATSDR found no link between the site and fish contamination. A fish advisory is in effect, and therefore conceivably little or no consumption of fish takes place.

  6. Evaluations conducted to date were not intended to provide comprehensive information about the character and extent of contamination.
    1. More information is needed about the locations of private wells in the site vicinity and the quality of groundwater being obtained.
    2. Data obtained do not adequately characterize the quality of groundwater that NSA uses for potable purposes.
    3. Data obtained may not adequately characterize the materials/wastes in unclosed on-site ponds.
    4. Off-site surficial soil sampling data obtained are insufficient to evaluate the character and lateral extent of contamination.
    5. Data obtained do not characterize contaminant levels in consumable garden produce.
    6. River water data are incomplete.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Cease /Reduce Exposure Recommendations

  1. Ensure that on-site maintenance and any construction or remedial workers as well as NSA workers at the dump pad and plant process waste areas are provided adequate protective equipment and training in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.120. Also ensure that appropriate NIOSH and OSHA guidelines are followed.
  2. If remediation is initiated, it should be conducted in a manner that will avoid undue exposure to contaminated dust.
  3. Implement institutional controls in the near future to prevent unauthorized access to uncapped disposal ponds.

Site/Area Characterization Recommendations

  1. A private well survey should be conducted in the site vicinity on the Kentucky side of the river. All private wells within a ½ mile of the site boundary should be sampled at least annually to verify water quality. NSA plans to sample nearby private wells (32).
  2. Groundwater that NSA draws for potable purposes should be analyzed periodically, initially at least twice a year, for a comprehensive set of chemicals to verify water quality.
  3. Waste materials (solids and liquids) present in the uncapped disposal ponds should be sampled more extensively to identify chemical constituents and their concentrations. NSA has sampled more waste materials and will report that information at a later time (32).
  4. Conduct more extensive sampling of surface soils (less than or equal to 3 inches deep) off site, especially adjacent to nearby residences and in fields used for agriculture.
  5. Conduct sampling of garden produce in the immediate site vicinity and analyze for fluoride.
  6. Conduct additional sampling of Ohio River water and analyze for the contaminants of concern. NSA plans to sample Ohio River water (32).

Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) Recommendations

The data and information developed in the National Southwire Aluminum Company preliminary public health assessment have been evaluated by HARP for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. Because maintenance workers and other on-site workers at the waste areas were probably exposed and may still be exposed to hazardous substances, HARP determined that the National Southwire Aluminum Company Site should be referred to the Kentucky State Health department and NIOSH. Because off-site contamination is not well characterized, and because there are no documented exposures off site at levels that could cause illness or injury, no further public health actions are indicated at this time. If additional information becomes available, ATSDR will reevaluate this site for any indicated follow-up.

Public Health Actions

ATSDR referred the National Southwire Aluminum Company Site to the Kentucky State Health department and NIOSH for evaluation of the worker population. NIOSH conducted a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) at the NSA plant on May 11, 1993, and made the following recommendations relating to the urinary fluoride monitoring program currently conducted at the NSA plant (10):

  1. The urinary fluoride monitoring program should include a combination of pre- and post-shift urine testing to assess both long-term and short-term fluoride absorption. Where pre-shift testing is carried out, at least two days should have elapsed between last exposure to fluoride and collection of the urine specimen.
  2. Action levels of 3 mg/L for pre-shift testing and 7 mg/L for post-shift testing should be used in the urinary fluoride monitoring program.
  3. Testing, in particular post-shift urine testing, should be conducted at different times during the year to adequately characterize fluctuations in fluoride absorption during shifts throughout the work year.

NSA reports they will implement the above recommendations in order to adequately assess the fluoride body burden of workers throughout the work year.

Because off-site contamination is not well characterized, and because there are no documented exposures off site at levels that could cause illness or injury, no further public health actions are planned at this time for that population.

NSA has initiated remedial investigation/feasibility evaluations that will provide additional information about contamination and alternative remediation measures, if appropriate.

Upon completion of the remedial investigation, EPA will conduct a baseline risk assessment and estimate the human health risks posed by contaminants found at the site. ATSDR will review that information and decide whether further public health activities are warranted.


PREPARERS OF REPORT

Don Gibeaut
Environmental Health Engineer
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
ATSDR

Moses Kapu, Ph.D.
Environmental Health Scientist
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
ATSDR

ATSDR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Carl Blair
Public Health Advisor
Office of Associate Administrator/Office of Regional Operations


REFERENCES

  1. NUS Corporation. Interim Final, Listing Site Inspection Report. National Southwire Aluminum. April 17, 1991.

  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Hazard Ranking System Documents. National Southwire Aluminum. February 22, 1991.

  3. National Southwire Aluminum Company. Letter to USEPA and Laboratory Data Sheets, PCB Cleanup in Foundation Excavation. March 20, 1992.

  4. National Southwire Aluminum Company. Material Specification Data Sheet for NSA Electrostatic Precipitator Catch. Undated.

  5. Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. Laboratory Data Sheets. July 1989.

  6. Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. Laboratory Data Sheets. October 1990.

  7. Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. Laboratory Data Sheets. Various dates from 1986 to 1991.

  8. Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. Site Investigation Report, National Southwire Aluminum Company. June 1986.

  9. Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. Air Quality Data Computer Printout. 1987 through 1991.

  10. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Letter to National Southwire Aluminum Company. December 23, 1993.

  11. National Southwire Aluminum Company. Various Memoranda and Data Sheets. Various Dates.

  12. Environmental Resources Management, Inc. Hydrogeologic Assessment of the Disposal Ponds at the National-Southwire Aluminum Company. February 5, 1980.

  13. Author Unknown. Preliminary Data--Total Cyanide Concentrations Associated With the North Pond Disposal Area. 1986.

  14. National Southwire Aluminum Company. Vegetation Analysis Summary Data Sheets. 1980 through 1991.

  15. National Southwire Aluminum Company. Inter-office Memoranda. September 3, 1991, December 10, 1991.

  16. Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, McCoy & McCoy Laboratories, and Kentucky Division of Water. Laboratory Data Sheets for Hawesville, Kentucky. Various dates in 1982, 1987, and 1989.

  17. Indiana State Board of Health. Laboratory Data Sheets. Various dates in 1975, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989.

  18. Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. Laboratory Data Sheets. October 24, 1988.

  19. Indiana State Board of Health and Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Laboratory Data Sheets for Evansville, Indiana. Various dates in 1983, 1985, 1988, 1989, and 1990.

  20. Commonwealth of Kentucky. Ohio River Fish Consumption Advisory Renewed. February 14, 1992.

  21. Clarkson, TW, Friberg, L, Nordberg, GF and Sager, PR, eds. Biological Monitoring of Toxic Metals. New York: Plenum Press, 1988.

  22. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft Toxicological Profile for Aluminum. Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), DHHS (PHS), October 1990; Contract No. 205-88-0608.

  23. Klaassen, CD, Amdur MO, and Doull J, eds. Casarett and Doul's Toxicology, The basic Science of Poisons. 3rd ed. New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986.

  24. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft Toxicological Profile for Arsenic. Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), DHHS (PHS), October 1991; Contract No. 205-88-0208.

  25. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft Toxicological Profile for Cobalt. Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), DHHS (PHS), October 1990; Contract No. 205-88-0608.

  26. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft Toxicological Profile for Cyanide. Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), DHHS (PHS), October 1991; Contract No. 205-88-0608.

  27. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft Toxicological Profile for Fluorides, Hydrogen Fluoride, and Fluorine (F). Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), DHHS (PHS), July, 1991; Contract No. 205-88-0608.

  28. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft Toxicological Profile for Lead. Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), DHHS (PHS), October 1991; Contract No. 205-88-0608.

  29. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft Toxicological Profile for Manganese. Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), DHHS (PHS), October 1990; Contract No. 205-88-0608.

  30. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft Toxicological Profile for Nickel. Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), DHHS (PHS), October 1991; Contract No. 205-88-0608.

  31. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft Toxicological Profile for Selected PCBs. Atlanta, GA: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), DHHS (PHS), October 1991; Contract No. 205-88-0608.

  32. Dames & Moore. Sampling and Analysis Plan. NSA, a Division of Southwire Company. February 22, 1993.

  33. Dames & Moore. NSA Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study Work Plan, Volumes I and II. February 1993.

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