PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
PADUCAH GASEOUS DIFFUSION PLANT (U.S. DOE)
PADUCAH, MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KENTUCKY
For people living near PGDP, complete and potential exposure pathways have been identified fordifferent contaminants. However, the levels of exposure are low, and the potentially exposedpopulation for each exposure pathway is very small relative to the county-wide health outcome dataavailable. A health outcome data review compares the frequency of specific diseases within aparticular area to the frequency in an outside population or standard. While this type of analysis canprovide information about whether a population has experienced higher than expected rates ofselected diseases, there are important limitations to the analysis and to its application for a verysmall population.
First, data are collected regularly only for select and limited health outcomes. Cancer registriescollect data on the incidence of cancers, vital statistics bureaus collect data on mortality, and birthdefect registries collect data on birth outcomes. The incidence of asthma was a community concern,but there is no database that would allow a comparison of the rate of asthma cases with an outsidepopulation or standard.
A second limitation of the data used for comparisons is that they are usually collected, assembled,and analyzed at the county or state level. The populations of concern near PGDP are extremelysmall--for each exposure pathway, only a few households are included. Expanding the study area toinclude everyone in the county as the potentially exposed group would dilute a possible associationby including a large number of persons who were not exposed. In addition, with a small group ofhouseholds, very few specific diseases occur over time. When there are few events occurring in asmall population, it is difficult to get a good estimate of how many excess cases a group experienced.
Recognizing these limitations, we are limited in this report to using standard health outcome dataanalysis methods. (We do recognize that other options may be available for future studies.)Representatives of ATSDR and Boston University identified and reviewed data on cancer incidencefor McCracken and Ballard Counties in Kentucky  and Massac County in Illinois ,although there were no completed exposure pathways identified for people in Illinois. Statistics fromcancer registries are discussed below. Data from the cancer registries are publicly available on theInternet and in written reports.
ATSDR representatives reviewed a report, "Report of an Environmental Health Survey ofIndividuals Exposed to Contaminated Groundwater From the DOE Paducah Gaseous DiffusionPlant", which was conducted in 1989 by the University of Cincinnati Medical Center at the requestof Martin Marietta Energy Systems, Inc.. The foundation evaluated residents in the affectedarea who were initially asked to stop using their well water. This report is discussed below.
ATSDR representatives also reviewed information collected in January 2000 by Tri StateConsulting of Independence, Kentucky. The consulting firm nurses interviewed 77 individualsliving within one and one-half mile radius of PGDP. The results of their report include self-reportedsymptoms and adverse health effects among those individuals.
ATSDR and Boston University representatives evaluated data using age-adjusted rates for ninegeneral types of cancer from 1991 through 1998. (Age-adjusted rates were used since it is widelyrecognized that the overall risk of getting cancer increases with age.) The types of cancer includedbrain/central nervous system, bladder, female breast, Hodgkin's lymphoma, kidney, leukemia, liver,lung, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. These data are limited, since they are not linked to exposureand are recorded for counties and area development districts. The potential affected population(between 15 and 90 persons) is relatively small compared to the county populations (approximately63,000 in McCracken County, 8,000 in Ballard County, and 15,000 in Massac County). The onlytype of cancer that may warrant further statistical review would be bladder cancer in BallardCounty; however, we found no association between bladder cancer in Ballard County and exposureto environmental contamination from this site.
In this survey, researchers from the University of Cincinnati examined 16 individuals (6 exposed toelevated concentrations of trichloroethylene, or TCE, and 10 non-exposed). Three of the exposedsubjects were exposed to concentrations well above EPA's drinking water standard for TCE. Theother three were exposed to levels at or very close to the standard. The evaluation included (1) anenvironmental and medical questionnaire; (2) a physical examination; (3) a complete blood countand fecal hemocult; (4) hepatic, renal, and hemopoietic parameters; (5) hair and fingernail samplescollected for technetium 99 measurements; and (6) serum polychlorinated biphenyl levels.(Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, had been detected in nearby surface water and sediment.)
The researchers found no evidence of clinically manifested medical problems associated withexposure. Although the exposed group measured consistently higher than the non-exposed group onrenal, hemopoietic, and hepatic tests, the results were not statistically significant. The mean value forboth groups was within normal range. The study consisted of self-selected, genetically relatedsubjects, which may have biased the survey. The sample size was also too small to allow statisticallysignificant comparisons between individuals with higher or lower exposures. Researchers did notlook for TCE in the blood, because the biological half-life of TCE is very short and the study wasperformed too long after exposures to have detected TCE.
The recommendations made by the researchers were as follows: (1) provide medical surveillance, onan annual basis, to anyone exposed to drinking water that exceeded EPA's drinking water standard;(2) continue monitoring wells in the affected area and provide non-contaminated water supplies; (3)determine the extent and movement of contamination in the groundwater; and (4) remediate thesources of contamination. ATSDR scientists support these recommendations. DOE has continued tomonitor wells in the affected area and have provided municipal water. The extent of thecontamination has been determined and continues to be monitored. Movement of the groundwaterplumes in the Regional Gravel Aquifer to the northwest and northeast of the site has been modeled.Although the sources of contamination have not been remediated, interim actions have been taken toreduce the movement of the plumes or the concentrations in the plumes. The sources of thecontamination will eventually be remediated. DOE provided medical surveillance, on an annualbasis, to people exposed to drinking water that exceeded EPA's drinking water standard and whovoluntarily participated in the surveillance program; however, after a couple of years, the volunteers discontinued their participation .
ATSDR and Boston University representatives used various methods to gather community concernsat this site. ATSDR used direct mail to solicit concerns from about 1,700 community members.ATSDR received about 500 responses to this mailing. ATSDR also held five public availabilitymeetings in Paducah and Heath, Kentucky, to gather concerns. Staff from ATSDR and BostonUniversity also gathered concerns by participating in public meetings sponsored by DOE, byattending several Site Specific Advisory Board meetings, and through telephone conversations andinformal meetings with members of the public.
Each individual concern may not be listed, since many concerns were very similar. For moredetailed information about these concerns, refer to Appendix B. Community concerns regarding PGDP have been divided into three categories: exposures, health, and procedures.
- A resident is concerned about possible inhalation exposures due to past air releases of radioactive and non-radioactive contaminants.
- A resident asked, "Why is there so much smoke from the plant, especially when lowclouds are over the area?"
- A resident stated that the C-310 stack vented uranium. This individual is concernedthat emissions are not controlled and may be released to the environment.
- A resident commented, "The air we breathe is absolutely unbelievable. The odors andpollution are really bad."
- A resident asked, "With the TVA fly ash fallout, will this shorten my life by tenyears?"
- A resident asked, "What do current and past air and water quality monitoring of theregion surrounding these sites and the rivers indicate about radiation levels andpollution from other potentially harmful chemicals?"
In the past, people living along the site's northern fence boundary could have been exposedto airborne hydrogen fluoride and radioactive materials (primarily uranium and technetium99). These exposures would have happened between 1954 and 1963. Also, people less than2.5 miles (4 kilometers) southeast of the site may have been exposed to uranium andhydrogen fluoride during an accident on November 17, 1960. It is unlikely, though, thatanyone was exposed during that accident: it happened at 4 a.m., and the temperature wasfreezing. Please see this report's air exposure pathways section for further information aboutexposure via air exposure pathways. For more about potential adverse health effects fromsuch exposure, please refer to the public health implications section.
The "smoke" or "clouds" seen over the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant are steam or watervapor released during the operations of the cooling towers. Different weather conditions,with related wind and temperature variations, affect the behavior of these "clouds." On anovercast day or when the earth is cooler than the atmosphere, they may not rise--they appearas "low clouds." Visible releases also come from the C-310 stack and the coal-burning plant,but they are not as noticeable off site.
We believe that the incident this resident is referring to occurred in October 1989. At thattime there was a release of uranium into the environment from the C-310 purge stack.Approximately 205 grams (a little less than ½ pound) were released into the atmosphere.The release resulted from a malfunction of the primary and secondary trap system that isused to keep uranium from escaping into the environment. The problem that led to thisaccident has been fixed. Refer to the air exposure pathway section for more information.
Odors are a common concern, but they do not necessarily mean that there is a health hazard.For some contaminants, the concentration needed to produce an odor can be quitesmall--not high enough to produce a health hazard. Refer to the air exposure pathwaydiscussion for more information about airborne contaminants in the PGDP area.
We do not have information about airborne releases from the Tennessee Valley Authority(TVA) Shawnee Steam Plant. However, the plant's permit(s) from the Kentucky Division ofAir Quality restrict emissions from its stacks. Every year, coal-burning plants should bereporting levels of particulates, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, etc., that they release. Formore information, you may want to contact the Kentucky Department for EnvironmentalProtection, Division of Air Quality. The state offices are in Frankfurt, but there is also aPaducah regional office: 4500 Clarks River Road, Paducah, Kentucky. For informationabout the release of airborne contaminants from PGDP, refer to the air exposure pathway section and the public health implications section.
This public health assessment presents information on the present and past levels ofcontamination arranged by medium (air, water, soil, etc.). There are no current exposures tocontaminants from PGDP at levels that present a health hazard. There were past exposuresthat could have been of health concern to some people living near the site. Please refer to thepublic health implications section for descriptions of the potentially affected areas and for discussions of potential health effects by substance.
- A member of the public stated that the public needs to know numbers/names of heavymetals, chemicals, radioactive substances, cubic yards of contaminated soil, etc., thatare in and around the plants.
- A resident stated that they were worried about radionuclides in the soil and water. They eat a lot of food from their garden.
This public health assessment has listed the contaminants of concern at the site. We havealso summarized the contaminants' concentrations in various media (air, water, soil, andfood). One of the techniques used at the site for soil sampling is designed to spot-check alarge area (approximately 3,000 acres, or 1,200 hectares) concentrating on areas most likelyto have some contamination. This type of sampling is not all inclusive, and cannot be used todetermine how many cubic yards of contaminated soils are in and around PGDP. Moreextensive sampling is done to characterize a site that has been identified as beingcontaminated and will be cleaned up. For each project, the volume of contaminated soil isestimated before the project begins--but even then, estimates are frequently in error.
There are no past or current off-site exposures to radioactive contaminants at levels thatwould be harmful to a person's health with the exception of the accidental release whichoccurred November 17, 1960. The concentrations of radionuclides in soil and sediment,surface water, groundwater, and food and biota are discussed under each exposure pathway.The potential for any health effect is discussed for all radioactive contaminants (radiationexposure) in the public health implications section. ATSDR is recommending continuedmonitoring of groundwater, surface water, and biota, and development of a spatially andstatistically consistent soil sampling program.
- A member of the public is concerned about possible exposure to contaminatedsurface water and sediments in ditches and streams and about contamination whenBig Bayou and Little Bayou Creeks overflow into people's fields and yards.
A member of the public is concerned about toxic waste being dumped in Little BayouCreek and being put in the landfill. "When we complained about the smell, they said itwas chicken manure and in another case they said the smell was caused by bovinemanure."
The creeks receive effluent from the plant. They are currently being monitored forcontamination by DOE and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. PGDP has permits todischarge the effluent into the creeks as long as the concentrations of the various chemicalsare kept below certain levels. In this public health assessment, we determined that certaincontaminants were released to the surface water at their highest concentrations in 1959,1960, and 1962. These highest levels were used in the public health implications section todetermine past potential exposures. Estimated exposures would not have been a healthhazard to humans based on the exposure scenarios we used. (Refer to the surface water exposure pathway section for more details.)
The landfills are permitted by the Commonwealth of Kentucky (Division of WasteManagement). If you have concerns about what is permitted for these landfills, or about themanagement of the landfills, the Commonwealth should be able to provide you with thisinformation.
We looked at the effects of the landfills on the groundwater, surface water, soils, andsediments. There is an inactive sanitary landfill outside the security fence to the southwest ofthe site that is affecting Bayou Creek and the groundwater in the immediate area. DOE isaware of the problem and continues to monitor the soils and sediment, and the surface waterand groundwater. Several things could cause the smell referred to in the comment; however,without more details, we cannot comment. Although the smell may be a nuisance, it may notindicate a hazardous situation.
During a flood, when the creeks overflow into people's fields, it is possible thatcontaminated sediment can spread; however, the concentrations of the contaminants shouldbe less than the concentrations in the creek sediment. This has been confirmed by resultsfrom sampling the creek banks. When the dose estimates were calculated for occasionalexposure, the concentrations in the sediment were used. For incidental ingestion of soil or sediment, the contaminant concentrations do not present a health hazard.
- A resident stated that they have a pond around their house that they use, and theydrink water from a private drinking well.
- A resident asked if there is contaminated groundwater west of the plant.
- A resident stated, "I am very concerned about the contaminated drinking water. I amof the belief that groundwater has been monitored closely in the past and stronglyhope that it will continue to be."
- A citizen stated that they were told that residential well water would be checked in a6-mile radius of the plant 3 or 4 years ago, and they are still waiting for their well tobe tested.
- A citizen asked, "Why is the well water not checked around here [Kevil] for anythingthat could be dangerous to our health? Everything travels in all directions, not justeast [referring to the groundwater plume]."
- A citizen commented, "I am concerned about the size and location of the plume. I alsowant to know if the plume is to the river or on the other side of the river." Thiscitizenisworriedaboutwellson theotherside ofMetropolisbeingcontaminated andwantstoknowifMetropoliswellsweremonitored.
- A resident commented, "We have a private well that we use 'daily,' and we fear thatwe could very well be drinking contaminated water."
- A citizen was concerned that he may still be drinking contaminated groundwater.DOE tested his wells some years ago, but he did not know the results. He wonderedwhy all the homes around him have been supplied with city water, while his has not.
- Several citizens asked, "What are the potential health effects from drinkingcontaminated water or breathing air following radioactive releases from PGDP anddocumented groundwater contamination?"
- A resident commented, "We are on well water, which was fine when we had itthoroughly tested thirty years ago by the health department. Since all the problems atthe plant, I have had it tested numerous times and they said it was high in salt content.How did the salt get there after all these years? The only time it happened was afterthey drilled test wells about 1 mile east of my house. I am sure they are puttingsomething in those wells that made my water salty, as well as smells."
- One citizen asked, "What steps have been undertaken to protect existingunderground aquifers and groundwater from additional contamination? How arecurrent contamination problems being handled? Is this program adequate?"
If you are concerned about your drinking water well, and you are within DOE's WaterPolicy area (between the site and the Ohio River, and between Metropolis Lake Road andBethel Church Road), you can contact DOE or their contractor (Bechtel Jacobs Company)to have your water tested. You can also contact the Kentucky Department for EnvironmentalProtection, Division of Water. We have listed telephone numbers and contacts for severalagencies at the end of this comment section.
Groundwater contamination has been detected west, northwest, and southwest of the site Thegroundwater plume west of the plant does not appear to have migrated off DOE property.The contaminated groundwater to the southwest of the plant is near an inactive landfill. Thisindividual is concerned about residential wells directly west of the site on or near BethelChurch Road. We have no indication that residential wells west of the plant have beenaffected by this groundwater contamination.
DOE has indicated that the groundwater in the potentially impacted areas will continue to bemonitored closely.
Please refer to the groundwater exposure pathway section. If you are located in the DOEWater Policy area, contact DOE or their contractor, Bechtel Jacobs Company, to get yourwater tested. You can also contact the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection,Division of Water or Division of Waste Management. Refer to the list at the end of this section.
The groundwater gradients do not flow from the site toward Kevil. The aquifer where mostresidential wells are located is the Regional Gravel Aquifer. Although there are threegroundwater plumes--one to the northwest of the site, one to the west-southwest, and one tothe northeast--the groundwater gradients for this aquifer flow to the north-northeast, towardthe Ohio River. If you are concerned about your water quality, you should contact thePurchase County Health Department or the West McCracken Water District. A list of agencies can be found at the end of this section.
Bechtel Jacobs Company (and previously Lockheed Martin Environmental Services) has agroundwater monitoring program that includes surveillance of over 200 monitoring wells,TVA wells, and residential wells. The purpose of this surveillance is to detect, as early aspossible, groundwater contamination resulting from the movement of the groundwater plumeor from past or present land disposal of wastes. Based on the results of this program, itappears that the northwest plume may surface in Bayou Creek near the TVA plant or in theOhio River. We believe that the northwest and northeast plumes recharge to the Ohio River,but the trichloroethylene (TCE) and technetium 99 (Tc-99) concentrations are so low thatthey are difficult to detect.
Sampling on the other side of the river did not detect any contaminants characteristic ofPGDP operations. The water in Metropolis is provided by the city. People outside the citylimits receive water from the Fort Massaic Water District which purchases water from theMillstone Treatment Plant in Reevesville, Illinois. The water for this company is drawn fromwells in northeast Massac County. The source of the water is the Ohio and Cache RiverValley Aquifer.
A resident wondered how safe his/her drinking water really is.
Refer to the groundwater exposure pathway section for the areas potentially affected by thesite. DOE has provided an alternative water source for anyone in the area of the plant whosewell has been affected by contamination from PGDP. Any resident who is concerned abouthis/her own private well can request that his/her well be tested by the Kentucky Departmentfor Environmental Protection, Division of Water. We have listed a number and a contactperson at the end of the comment section.
In this case, the resident was not the land owner. The test results from the residential wellhad been supplied to the land owner, who chose not to sign the DOE Water Policyagreement with DOE (which would have restricted him from drilling additional wells). Theland owner owns a lot of land in the area and did not want to be restricted from drillingadditional wells on his property. Therefore, this residence was not put on municipal water.The well in question was not contaminated with TCE or Tc-99, and is not very close to thenorthwest plume. The tenant was assured that the test results were negative.
A description of possible health effects is given in the public health implications section.
We do not have enough information to specifically address this concern. Please contact theReidland office of the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, Division ofWater; the local representative of the Kentucky Division of Waste Management; or the WestMcCracken Water District Office. Phone numbers and contact persons are listed at the end of this section.
DOE is operating extraction and treatment systems to remove TCE from the northwest andnortheast plumes. The northwest treatment system also removes Tc-99. The systems do notappear to be preventing the advancement of the plumes, although they may have slowed theplumes down and kept contaminant concentrations from increasing off site. DOE currentlyhas a board of technical experts looking at alternative projects to remediate the groundwater;proposals for such projects have been presented to the public.
DOE is limiting the drilling of monitoring wells into the McNairy Aquifer to make it lesslikely that a conduit to this deeper water supply will appear. They also are looking atremediating the sources of the contaminants on site. They are continuing to monitorresidential wells that could be in the path of the plumes.
- Several citizens were concerned about adverse health effects from consumption ofcontaminated fish and game from the West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area.
- She knew about the signs that posted mercury warnings for bass, but did notunderstand why some fish were posted while others were not.
- She also knew of people who fished to make ends meet (elderly women onMedicare whose medicine was so expensive they fished in order to eat). If shedid not eat the fish she caught, she gave it to someone else.
- A citizen was concerned that some of the fish in the ponds and creeks are deformed(especially catfish and bluegill).
- One resident stated, "We have a garden and grow most of our food here next to theplant. I'm concerned what contaminants we may be exposed to from our food."
- One person asked, "Why was deer found with plutonium in the muscle?"
- One person asked, "To what extent are animals (including fish, game, and cattle)affected by radionuclide levels in the water and in the regional plants?"
- One of the farmers stated, "Cattle look older than they should. In 1994, a calf wasborn dead with a deformed jaw. Coffee Animal Clinic in LaCenter, Kentuckyexamined the calf; then the Plant took the calf. Presently he has 40 head of cattleincluding calves. In 60 years, there was only one deformity."
A subsistence fisherman/hunter was concerned about health effects of eating animalshe catches. He catches and eats crappies, bluegill, some largemouth bass (but notfrom KOW), and buffalo carp. His wife eats raccoon once or twice a year, and alsorabbit. He eats squirrel once a year. He used to eat soft shell turtles, but he cannotfind them anymore. He eats about 6 to 7 pounds of fish a month. He fishes in BarkleyLake (another fish and wildlife area nearby), KOW at this site, and sometimes thepond to the right of the main gate at PGDP.
Another citizen said that she had been on the site to fish from time to time. She fishedfor several different kinds of fish at various places. She made at least one meal amonth from the fish she caught. She has fished in the game reserve; the lake north ofthe game reserve; lakes near Martin Marietta (PGDP); north in Barkley County;Noah Lake, when it was not drained to be cleaned; the West Paducah Coon HuntersClub; and near the TVA plant. She has eaten crappie, bluegill (most common), bass,buffalo, and carp. Also, she has cooked turtle once. If the fish is too fatty, she will not clean or eat it.
Another citizen said she did not hunt but would eat what was given to her. Thisincluded rabbit, groundhog, squirrel, possum, raccoon, and turtle. Her concernswere:
There is no evidence that occasionally eating the fish or game caught in the WKWMA willmake you sick. In our calculations, we assumed that someone could be eating 20% of thefish and meat in their diet from animals caught there. The PCB levels in deer are very lowand do not pose a health threat. Still, people should not eat fish from Bayou and Little BayouCreeks as their main source of protein.
It is important that people limit their intake of fish (2 fish meals/month) caught in theWKWMA ponds or Little Bayou Creek where warning signs are posted. These signs list thetypes of fish because these fish have been found to contain chemicals that can harm you ifyou eat them in large amounts. (Because different fish have different food sources theyingest and retain different concentrations of contaminants.) Especially young women (whoare, or can get, pregnant) and children should not eat the fish that are listed on the warningsigns. However, occasionally eating other fish from this area will not cause harm, becausethey do not contain enough chemicals to make you sick. Also, if you eat turtles, you shouldonly eat them occasionally and should remove the fat before eating them.
We advise that you do not eat any fish that appears to be deformed. Please report anydeformed fish, deer, or other animals to the local Kentucky Fish and Wildlife representativewho lives at the site. It is impossible to say, based on the information that we currently have,what may have caused the deformities. However, it is important that the KentuckyDepartment of Fish and Wildlife Resources be made aware of the type and frequency ofthese occurrences.
Fruits and vegetables in the area have been tested for arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium,lead, manganese, nickel, vanadium, zinc, technetium 99, uranium 234, uranium 235,uranium 238, and plutonium 239. None of the potential exposure doses (based on maximumsample results) were at levels of health concern. No data were available for fluoride invegetables, so we used the results from broadleaf grass samples, assuming that green leafyvegetables had the same levels. Based on this assumption, fluoride would not be expected tocause harm to humans. For more details, refer to the discussion for the food and biota exposure pathway.
Due to the past atmospheric testing of atomic bombs around the world, there is a low level ofplutonium in the environment. PGDP has also released "small" amounts of plutonium sincethe 1970s, when PGDP reprocessed uranium that had been used in a reactor. Plutonium inthe environment can be ingested by animals, including deer. Normally, animals absorb verylittle plutonium into the bloodstream; most of that absorbed material goes to the bone.However, as with other bone-seeking elements (e.g., calcium, strontium), a small amount ofplutonium may end up in muscle tissue. The amount of plutonium reported in the deer wasnot enough to harm anyone who may have eaten it. Refer to the food and biota exposure pathway section for more information.
Even with the levels we used in this public health assessment (usually maximumconcentrations), there should be no adverse effects on animals in the area from radionuclides.
Without more information, we cannot determine the cause of the calf's deformity or death.
- Several citizens stated, "We are especially concerned about current and futureexposures to radioactive and [other] contaminants that could be released from the100s and 1,000s of barrels of waste stored on site. Those barrels cannot last forever.What can be safely done with their contents? Another thing that bothers me is thetransportation of hazardous waste to and from the plant and what we would beexposed to in case of an accident."
- One commenter was concerned about the level of dioxin.
If you are concerned about the depleted uranium cylinders and not barreled waste, be awarethat we addressed such concerns in the "other" exposure pathway section for the depleted uranium cylinders. Please refer to that section.
If your concern is about other hazardous waste stored on site that is not currently impactingthe off-site environment, you will need to contact the Kentucky Division of HazardousWaste Management, DOE, or the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC). If you have morespecific information about this waste, you may contact our office with your concerns.
The transportation of hazardous waste is strictly regulated. Hazardous waste shipments canbe inspected by regulators prior to shipment, during transport, or on arrival at theirdestination. If there are any violations, the shipper is responsible and receives stiff fines fromthe U.S. Department of Transportation and/or the state regulatory agency. The hazardsinvolved in transporting the depleted uranium cylinders are discussed in the section on "other" exposure pathways.
We looked at monitoring data in several media for several forms of dioxin. Dioxins are notin off-site groundwater, surface water, or soils. Some dioxin is showing up in a few of thesediment samples, but not at locations where there would be a completed exposure pathway.No data were reviewed for dioxin in biota such as fish.
- Several citizens were concerned about potential health problems related to wastematerials stored at the site and off-site releases. Several citizens were specificallyconcerned about possible cancer clusters appearing in these areas: Bradford Roadarea, Ogden Landing/Metropolis Road/Woodville Road area, neighborhood of HouseRoad and Ragland Community, Ballard County, and LaCenter, Kentucky.
- One citizen asked, "How were residents downstream of PGDP affected?"
- One resident stated, "I am very concerned about past, present, and future exposuresand health outcomes (cancer and non-cancer) for my neighbors, children, andgrandchildren."
- One person asked, "What health impacts may have been initiated by PGDPoperations during the period 1944 through the present? How were workers affected?How were workers' families affected?"
- One person asked, "What percentage of birth defects and mental retardationoccurring within the region may be considered related to radiation exposure fromcontaminated air and water supplies?"
For details on the first part of this concern, please refer to the public health implicationssection. Only a small population, located close to the site, was exposed to contaminants ofconcern in the past. With the current plant operations and the access restrictions to LittleBayou Creek and the outfalls, no exposures are occurring that would cause harm to anyoneoff site.
For many of the areas named above, we do not see completed exposure pathways forcontaminants from PGDP. The areas for which cancer statistics are gathered are too large tolet us pinpoint any specific neighborhood. Please refer to the exposure pathways and health outcome data evaluation sections of this report.
Residents downstream on the Ohio River from PGDP should not have been adverselyaffected by PGDP.
The public health implications section describes the potential populations that could havebeen affected by contaminants and discusses the possibilities of adverse affects and types ofpotential effects by substance. ATSDR's Child Health Initiative recognizes thatvulnerabilities are inherent in the developing young child, infant, or fetus. Some of thecontaminants discussed in the public health implications section are of special concern tochildren and developing fetuses. If you have further concerns, do not hesitate to contactCarol Connell with ATSDR at (404) 639-6060.
One citizen asked, "What are the potential health effects on children whose parentshave worked at PGDP or who have been exposed to contaminated air and watersupplies?"
This public health assessment addresses the first part of the first concern. For exposures tooff-site air and water releases, please refer to the appropriate exposure pathway sections. Forchildren whose parents work at PGDP, their exposure would be from contaminants broughthome by the workers or to exposures prior to their birth. A separate study is being conductedto examine the exposures of workers at PGDP. If you want to know more about the workerstudy, contact your union representative, the DOE public document room at the BechtelJacobs facilities in Kevil, Kentucky, or NIOSH. (Refer to the contact list at the end of this section.)
Probably none. ATSDR has developed a minimal risk level (MRL) for acute andintermediate duration external ionizing radiation exposure based on studies that evaluatedthe effect of radiation exposure on the developing fetal and embryonic human brain. Thesestudies measured changes in intelligence test scores. Schull et al. evaluated the effectson individuals exposed in utero during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Noevidence of radiation-related effect on intelligence was observed among individuals exposedwithin 0 to 7 weeks after fertilization or after the 25th week. The highest risk of damage tothe embryonic and fetal brain occurred 8 to 15 weeks after fertilization . Theintelligence scores appear to be lowered from 21 to 29 points (mean of 25 points) per 1 Gyexposure. No threshold for ionizing radiation's neurological effects has been determined butthis does not mean that a threshold does not exist. There appears to be a threshold responsein the case of damage to brain stem cells or to cells that differentiate into brain cells.Although the lowest-observed-adverse-effect level (LOAEL) has not been determined, astudy by Schull of the intelligence difference in monozygotic twins of 0.3 IQ points was used to established a no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) dose. ATSDR used 0.3IQ point as a NOAEL, 1 Sv dose per 25 IQ point reduction, and 3 as an uncertainty factorfor human variability/sensitive population to determine a minimal risk level (MRL) (basedon exposure during pregnancy) of 4 mSv (400 mrem).
- One commenter stated, "My only request would be that if any releases areencountered that would affect the nearby community, immediate notice be given viaTV and radio."
- One commenter stated that the sirens are not loud enough to be heard inside thehouse when the TV is on.
- "When a release was made, in the past, they used pounds or kilograms. One pounddoes not sound bad, but when spread in the atmosphere, one pound is a lot. Why notuse cubic feet of ____________ released?"
- To what extent are local health departments participating in the monitoring of airand water quality for the region surrounding these sites and the rivers? If they arenot, how can citizens pressure them to become more involved with this issue?
- One commenter stated, "We have no say in what is buried in the landfill they arebuilding. This is not right."
- Citizens are confused about the relationships between DOE, Lockheed MartinEnergy Systems (currently Bechtel Jacobs Company), the U.S. Nuclear RegulatoryCommission, the Kentucky Federal Facilities Oversight Unit, the Kentucky Cabinetof Health Services, ATSDR, EPA, etc.
- Demonstration of the innovative environmental cleanup program specific to PGDP.
- Safe management of the site infrastructure, including decontamination anddecommissioning of facilities no longer in use.
- Operation of a waste management program that includes storage of low-level, mixedtransuranic waste; management of waste generated by the environmental restorationprograms (not just from PGDP); and shipment of some waste to other storage,treatment, and disposal facilities.
- Management of the depleted UF6 cylinders.
- Operation of the environmental restoration program, which involves cleanup ofhistoric contamination.
This comment is acknowledged. Your request has been forwarded to DOE; however, thecurrent operation of the plant is under USEC, with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissionhaving regulatory jurisdiction.
This information is acknowledged and has been passed along to DOE.
Air releases are usually reported in terms of total releases for the year (in pounds orkilograms) because of the reporting requirements for site-specific air quality permits. Todetermine a contaminant's health impacts, one must either know or calculate concentrationsof that contaminant (micrograms per cubic meter of air). This tells one how much chemicalis measured in a given amount of air that a person may be breathing. This is called a unit ofmeasurement. An adult breathes in approximately 20 cubic meters (5,200 gallons) of air intohis or her lungs every day. However, no matter what units are used to measure the chemical,you can always ask for it to be explained in the form that is easiest for you to understand.
The Purchase District Health Department is the local health department agency for Ballardand McCracken Counties (among others) in Kentucky. Although they are closely followingthe situation at the site, they do not normally get involved with environmental monitoring.The environment around the site is currently being monitored by the Kentucky Departmentfor Environmental Protection (water, air, and waste management), the Kentucky Departmentfor Public Health (Radiation Control Program), and DOE. Formerly, the University ofKentucky Federal Facilities Oversight Unit (FFOU) performed local monitoring. Samplingindependent of DOE has been done by the Commonwealth for biota, water, soils/sediment,and radioactive contaminants in air. A five-year report was published by the FFOU coveringthe years from 1991 through 1996 . Citizens may correspond directly with the differentagencies to find out the extent of their involvement at the site. Addresses and phone numbersfor these agencies are listed at the end of this section.
For questions concerning landfill permitting and what is allowed to be buried in the landfills,please contact the Kentucky Division of Waste Management, Hazardous WasteManagement Branch.
Please refer to the background section of this public health assessment for the history of theseagencies' involvement with PGDP.
Although USEC now runs the operating plant, DOE's current mission at the site includes:
Bechtel Jacobs Company is currently the prime contractor for DOE at PGDP. They performor subcontract most of these services. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulatesthe plant operations under a license issued to the USEC. The Federal Facilities OversightUnit was part of the University of Kentucky's Water Resources Research Institute; it wascharged with helping the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental ProtectionCabinet and the Cabinet for Health Services with the environmental monitoring of thefederal facilities activities in the Commonwealth. The FFOU no longer exists. For moreinformation, refer to the summary and background sections of this document.
- This citizen is concerned about the management of the wildlife in the game reserve.He/she thinks that someone should keep a closer watch on the wildlife.
- A local farmer noticed that there are no grasshoppers, frogs, or snakes on the farm.Also, there are few birds and other insects. The reduction in the these animal andinsect populations happened about 3 or 4 years ago.
- One person stated, "I appreciate your concerns, however, our complaints have fallenon deaf ears." (This person did not specify an agency.)
Another citizen said that he never observed live or dead fish in the creeks. In 1993 or1994, over 20 deer were found dead near Spring Bayou Church. The plant was told ofthe dead deer and investigated, but no one knows the results.
Several people mentioned that deer in the area looked "old" and sickly.
DOE does some monitoring of wildlife in the area. The FFOU did some independentmonitoring of the wildlife; now the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protectioncarries out such monitoring. We used data from DOE and Commonwealth agencies in ourevaluation of the wildlife. Information can be found in DOE's Annual EnvironmentalReports and the FFOU five-year report. However, concerns should be brought to theattention of the Commonwealth agencies and the local fish and wildlife manager.
The incident involving deer was mentioned by several people in the area; however, there wasno information in the documents we reviewed. Without more information or sampling resultsfrom the dead deer, we cannot explain what happened. There could be several other reasonsfor such an incident (e.g., viruses, bacteria). Both the Kentucky Department forEnvironmental Protection and the Kentucky Department for Public Health have stateveterinarians with expertise in this area.
It is difficult to say exactly what is behind this reduction in the number of animals. We donot see any reason to think that contaminants from the site may be at fault; however, ouranalysis of the data was intended to see if there are any reasons for human health concerns.You may want to contact one of the agencies listed at the end of this section.
Several citizens said that there is a lack of trust in the reports from PGDP, that DOEsays that it is making headway on the problems but they don't see it, and that DOEand its contractors are insensitive to the concerns of the citizens affected by the siteand the workers exposed on site.
These comments are acknowledged.
|Questions about PGDP cleanup; also, fishing, hunting, etc.||Tuss Taylor |
|Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection |
Division of Waste Management
14 Reilly Road
Frankfurt, KY 40601
|Janet Miller (local contact)||Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection |
Division of Waste Management
MS 103, P.O. Box 1410
Paducah, KY 42001
|Questions about surface water or groundwater contamination from PGDP||Marjorie Williams |
|Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection |
Division of Water
4500 Clarks River Road
Reidland, KY 42003
|Questions about radioactive contaminants and monitoring around PGDP||John Volpe, Manager |
|Kentucky Dept. for Public Health |
Radiological Health and Toxic Agents Branch
Radiation Control Program
Frankfort, KY 40621-0001
|(502) 564-3700 |
|Questions concerning DOE environmental activities at PGDP||Gregory Cook, |
Public Affairs Manager
|Bechtel-Jacobs Company |
761 Veterans Avenue
Kevil, KY 42053
|Questions about cancer statistics and cancer cluster investigations||Thomas Tucker, Associate Director||Kentucky Cancer Registry |
2365 Harrisburg Road
Lexington, KY 40504
|Questions about water quality that affects public health (e.g., lead)||Charles Seay, Environmental Officer||Purchase District Health Dept. |
320 North 7th Street
Mayfield, KY 42006
|General questions about water quality and other water problems||William Tanner, |
|West McCracken Water District |
8020 Ogden Landing Road
West Paducah, KY 42086
|Questions about livestock, agricultural products, etc.||Doug Wilson, |
|University of Kentucky |
Cooperative Extension Service
2705 Oliver Church Road
Paducah, KY 42001
|Questions related to PGDP occupational problems||Leon Owens||PACE (Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical, and Energy Workers Union); formerly OCAW |
P.O. Box 494
Paducah, KY 42002
|Questions concerning medical surveillance for former Gaseous Diffusion Plant workers at DOE facilities (Paducah, Portsmouth, Oak Ridge)||Sylvia Kieding||PACE (Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical, and Energy Workers Union)/formerly OCAW |
2490 South Garfield Street
Denver, CO 80210
|Questions about the local economy and the city's role in the PGDP cleanup efforts||James Zumwalt, |
|Paducah City Hall |
P.O. Box 2267
Paducah, KY 42002-2267
|Questions about local development (traffic and new housing patterns)||Van Newberry, Engineer||McCracken County Planning Office |
3700 Coleman Road
Paducah, KY 42001
|Questions about impact of PGDP on local economy||Kristin Reese||Greater Paducah Economic Council |
P.O. Box 1155
Paducah, KY 42002