PETITIONED HEALTH CONSULTATION
BREWTON IRON WORKS
TR MILLER MILL,
BREWTON, ESCAMBIA COUNTY, ALABAMA
Brewton is a small, industrial town located in rural south central Alabama. A former resident of Brewton requested that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) evaluate the potential public health impact of six separate industrial facilities to Brewton's municipal groundwater supply . The specific health concern mentioned in the petitioner's request was the autoimmune disease, lupus. Since limited or no data are available regarding chemical releases to the groundwater at these six facilities, ATSDR considered alternate approaches to address the petitioner's concern. ATSDR evaluated existing chemical data from the municipal groundwater supply and determined if any chemicals were present in the potable water at levels of public health concern. In this manner, ATSDR is able to evaluate the petitioner's concern about the quality of the public water supply in Brewton, Alabama.
The town of Brewton has a history of industrial and manufacturing activities, including timber, textiles, and foundries, starting in the mid 1800's. Due to these broad industrial activities, analyzing the groundwater quality in Brewton will not allow ATSDR to identify the exact source of contaminants. The six industries noted in this document are not the sole source of industrial activities in Brewton, but were sites specifically listed by the petitioner as a primary concern. All six industries are located in the Brewton vicinity. A Brewton area map with the location of each site is located in Appendix A, and a description of each of the six sites is described below:
Falcon Industries (a/k/a Falcon/BFI)
Falcon Industries is a soil remediation facility located in a rural area 11 miles northwest of Brewton. Falcon Industries was constructed on 8 acres in 1991 and was bought in 1996 by BFI Waste Systems, Inc. The Falcon/BFI soil remediation facility remediates petroleum contaminated soils by using a thermal desorption incinerator with a scrubber to control air emissions. The facility is permitted by Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remediate soils contaminated with petroleum products (such as gasoline) through high temperature thermal drying and combustion. The remediated soil has a hydrocarbon concentration of less than 10 parts per million (ppm) and is then used for asphalt production on-site or sold as construction fill dirt off-site. Piles of remediated and un-remediated soil are stored on concrete slabs with a lip to prevent stormwater runoff, and are covered with a plastic tarp. Stormwater runoff from these piles of soil has been managed since 1996, when BFI Waste Systems bought the facility. Past stormwater management practices are not known. ATSDR reviewed sampling data from the municipal groundwater for petroleum based hydrocarbons near Falcon Industries. Presence of benzene, toluene, and total xylenes (petroleum derivatives) were specifically investigated to detect possible contamination of petroleum releases into the groundwater. Petroleum based hydrocarbons were not detected in the groundwater above Maximum Contaminants Levels (MCL), which are federal regulatory drinking water guidelines, or ATSDR's health comparison values. There is no indication that chemicals are being released from Falcon/BFI Industries into the groundwater that supplies potable water to area residents.
Timberlands Sanitary Landfill
Timberlands Sanitary Landfill is a municipal solid waste landfill operated by BFI Waste Systems. The landfill is located in a rural area 12 miles northwest of Brewton on 246 acres. Timberlands Landfill was designed in accordance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle D and Alabama Administrative Code requirements to receive non-hazardous, municipal waste . The landfill was constructed in 1993 on top of a shallow (14-70 feet) Pliocene-Miocene aquifer that overlies confining clay layers on most of the site . The general groundwater flows below Timberlands Landfill to the east. Most residents in the vicinity of Timberlands Landfill are receiving municipal drinking water service from McCall Water System, however, there are 12 private wells located hydrologically up-gradient of the landfill and one private well that is 350 feet deep, located approximately a 1/2 mile down-gradient (east) of the landfill . Timberlands Landfill is lined and contains groundwater monitoring wells on and off-site. The groundwater is monitored biannually to detect if contaminants are being released from the landfill. The on and off-site monitoring well sampling results show that organic and inorganic contaminants detected in groundwater are below MCLs . There is no indication that chemicals are currently being released from the landfill into the groundwater. Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is required to monitor groundwater and regulate Timberlands Landfill indefinitely.
Allied Foundry (a/k/a: Alabama Ductile Casting Company)
Allied Foundry is an iron foundry that was built in 1975, on approximately 9 acres, in an industrial section within the town limits of Brewton. The company was sold in 1987 and renamed the Alabama Ductile Casting Company. This active foundry is currently casting and marketing 30-70 pound iron automotive products. Scrap metal is stored on open concrete areas and in covered buildings. Based on ATSDR's observation and the type of operations reported for the facility, there is no indication that chemicals are being released from this facility into the groundwater. The nearest residents to Allied Foundry are approximately 0.25 mile away and are provided potable water by Brewton Water Works municipal groundwater.
Brewton Iron Works
Brewton Ironworks is located adjacent to Allied Foundry in an industrial section within the town limits of Brewton. This facility was constructed in 1898 on 3.5 acres as a small iron foundry that manufactured castings for municipal water and wastewater treatment plants. Currently, Brewton Iron Works casts and markets small iron and plastic parts for municipal water and wastewater treatment plants. There are small piles of scrap metal stored on open concrete. Based on ATSDR's observation and the type of operations reported for the facility, there is no indication that chemicals are being released from this facility into the groundwater. The nearest residents to Brewton Ironworks are approximately 0.25 mile away and are provided potable water by Brewton Water Works municipal groundwater.
Container Corporation (a/k/a: Jefferson Smurfit)
Container Corporation is a pulp and paperboard mill that began operations in 1957 four miles south of Brewton on 544 acres. Container Corporation produces solid bleached sulfate food-grade paper board for markets in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and packaging . There is a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for a boiler ash settling pond and two small landfills located on-site. Groundwater monitoring wells located at the perimeter of the site have not detected contaminants in the groundwater above MCLs . There have been no known chemical releases at Container Corporation mill in Brewton that have impacted groundwater . The nearest residents to Container Corporation are approximately 0.5 mile away and are provided municipal groundwater by Brewton Water Works.
This facility has a privately operated public water well permitted by ADEM that furnishes potable water to approximately 560 on-site employees. The quarterly groundwater monitoring results of the potable water supply well are discussed below in the Groundwater Quality section of this document.
T.R. Miller Mill
T.R. Miller Mill is a 64 acre lumber and wood preserving facility located in an industrial area within Brewton town limits. The facility has been at this location since the late 1800's, however, wood treating operations began in 1927. Creosote has been used since 1927, pentachlorophenol (PCP) since the 1950's, and chromated copper arsenate (CCA) since 1985 . Wood posts and poles are steam and pressure treated in large steel cylinders, and then allowed to air dry on drip tracks. Spent treatment fluids are currently collected and handled by shipping off-site for treatment and/or disposal. Wastewater generated at TR Miller Mill is reused or treated in an on-site wastewater treatment plant.
Past management of wood treatment wastes in four unlined surface impoundments led to groundwater contamination at the center of the site. Several derivatives of the chemicals used for wood treatment have been detected in the groundwater at a maximum depth of approximately 25 feet. The constituents that have been detected are arsenic, chromium, pentachlorophenol, m/p/o-cresol, acenaphthene, phenol, 2,4-dimethylphenol, tetrachlorophenols, 3,4,5-trichlorophenol, 3-chlorophenol, 2-methylnaphthalene, and fluorene . The surface impoundments were closed in 1988 and remediation of the groundwater began in 1989 . Corrective action is currently ongoing which entails groundwater remediation via a series of groundwater recovery wells and a pump and treat system on-site. There are also several monitoring wells on and off-site. Results of the groundwater monitoring have defined the extent and character of the groundwater contaminant plume (or boundary). ADEM is overseeing remediation so that the groundwater plume does not pose a potential exposure pathway by human consumption or contact.
The groundwater flow at TR Miller Mill is southeast, toward Murder Creek. Based on the perimeter monitoring well results, the groundwater contamination is shallow, has been contained on-site, and is being monitored quarterly to detect migration . No potable groundwater wells have been identified hydrologically downgradient in the vicinity of TR Miller Mill. The nearest residents are approximately 0.5 mile from TR Miller Mill and are provided municipal water by Brewton Water Works. There is no indication that the public has been exposed to the contaminated groundwater from TR Miller Mill.
Concerns have been expressed about potential industrial impact to the groundwater, which supplies drinking water to Brewton residents. The only specific health concern in the petition letter was a perceived high incidence of the autoimmune disease, lupus. The petitioner specifically suspected the six industries mentioned previously of contributing to the lupus incidence by contaminating Brewton's public water supplies. Although there is no known cause for lupus, ATSDR has not found a completed exposure pathway via groundwater, therefore, did not find evidence showing industrial activities in Brewton to contribute to lupus incidence. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, the strongest associations with lupus seem to be due to genetics, ultraviolet light, and some drugs . Lupus is not a reportable disease under Alabama's Notifiable Disease Act; therefore, accurate case reports for lupus in the Brewton area are not available .
For more information about lupus, please contact:
Lupus Foundation of America
1300 Piccard Drive, Suite 200
Rockville, MD 20850