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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

HART CREOSOTING COMPANY
JASPER, JASPER COUNTY, TEXAS


SUMMARY

The Hart Creosoting Company National Priorities List site (Hart), an 8.8 acre site that was operated as a wood treatment facility, is approximately one mile south of downtown Jasper, in Jasper County, Texas. The area around the Hart site is forested and the site is bounded on the east by U.S. Highway 96 and on the west by an intermittent creek.

The Hart site operated as a creosote wood preserver from 1958 until 1993. Lumber was treated with steam containing creosote under pressure to weatherproof fence posts and utility poles. Between 1984 and 1991, state environmental agencies repeatedly cited Hart for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In 1985, the Texas Department of Water Resources referred the facility to the Texas Attorney General because of groundwater contamination. Subsequent investigations confirmed the groundwater contamination and also found contamination in soil and sediment. The Hart site was proposed to the National Priorities List of Superfund Sites in April 1999, and was finalized to the National Priorities List in July 1999.

The Texas Department of Health (TDH) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) evaluated available environmental information for the site and identified several potential exposure pathways for evaluation. These exposure pathways include possible contact with site contaminants in the foodchain, sediment, groundwater, surface water, surface soil, and air. A brief review of the evaluation organized by hazard category is presented below. Based on available information, we have concluded that the Hart Creosoting Company Site currently poses no apparent public health hazard. Because of insufficient information, we identified one exposure pathway as an indeterminate public health hazard. In the future, the conclusion category for the overall site could change if additional data indicate that the indeterminate public health hazard pathway poses a threat to public health.

INDETERMINATE PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD

ATSDR concluded that one exposure pathway is a potential or indeterminate public health hazard. Additional information is required to adequately assess the magnitude of the health threat associated with this pathway.

  1. Exposure to contaminants through the foodchain is considered an indeterminate public health hazard. Some of the site contaminants found in the sediment, such as the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are known to bioaccumulate in fish. However, fish sampling data for the waterways around the Hart site were not available for TDH/ATSDR to review. Since fish sampling data were not available and people have been documented fishing downstream from the site, we classified consumption of fish from Big Walnut Run Creek as an indeterminate public health hazard. We have recommended fish sampling in Big Walnut Run Creek to assess whether eating fish from this creek poses a public health hazard.

NO APPARENT PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD

We concluded that one exposure pathway poses no apparent public health hazard. In this pathway people may come into contact with site contaminants; however, certain conditions exist that makes it unlikely that exposure to contaminants would be of health concern.

  1. Exposure to contaminated sediments downstream of the Hart Creosoting site poses no apparent public health hazard. Since it is likely that ingestion of the sediment would be infrequent and contaminant concentrations are low, we would not expect exposure to the sediment to result in adverse health effects. People who wade and swim in Big Walnut Run Creek are not likely to be exposed to contaminants in the sediment frequently enough or at high enough concentrations to result in adverse health effects.

NO PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD

We concluded that the following exposure pathways pose no public health hazard either because people were not likely to come into contact with site contaminants or because institutional controls are sufficient to protect human health.

  1. Contaminated groundwater beneath the Hart Creosoting site poses no public health hazard because the water is not used for potable or other purposes. At the current time, there is no evidence that private or public drinking water wells have been affected by site contaminants. Although unlikely, it is possible that in the future, site contaminants could migrate toward water supply wells; however, we have recommended periodic water sampling to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of long-term exposure should contaminants migrate toward water supply wells.

  2. Since surface water obtained prior to the source removal from the intermittent creek between the site and Big Walnut Run Creek did not contain any measurable levels of site contaminants, we have concluded that surface water downstream of the site in Big Walnut Run Creek presents no public health hazard.

  3. Soil contamination on the Hart site poses no public health hazard. In the Fall of 1995, EPA consolidated and buried the contaminated soils in a clay-lined and clay-capped structure. Currently, the capped area is inaccessible. Since the potential for people to come in contact with contaminated soil on site has been eliminated, the contaminated surface soil currently poses no public health hazard.

  4. Since the site is no longer operating and source areas have been contained, we concluded that currently the air pathway poses no public health hazard.

ATSDR PUBLIC HEALTH CONCLUSION CATEGORIES

CATEGORY A.
URGENT PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD1

This category is used for sites where short-term exposures (<1 yr) to hazardous substances or conditions could result in adverse health effects that require rapid intervention.


Criteria:
Evaluation of available information2 indicates that site-specific conditions or likely exposures have had, are having, or are likely to have in the future, an adverse impact on human health that requires immediate action or intervention. Such site-specific conditions or exposures may include the presence of serious physical or safety hazards, such as open mine shafts, poorly stored or maintained flammable/explosive substances, or medical devices which, upon rupture, could release radioactive materials.

CATEGORY B.
PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD1

This category is used for sites that pose a public health hazard due to the existence of long-term exposures (>1 yr) to hazardous substances or conditions that could result in adverse health effects.

Criteria:
Evaluation of available relevant information2 suggests that, under site-specific conditions of exposure, long-term exposures to site-specific contaminants (including radionuclides) have had, are having, or are likely to have in the future, an adverse impact on human health that requires one or more public health interventions. Such site-specific exposures may include the presence of serious physical hazards, such as open mine shafts, poorly stored or maintained flammable/explosive substances, or medical devices which, upon rupture, could release radioactive materials.

CATEGORY C. INDETERMINATE PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD

This category is used for sites in which "critical" data are insufficient with regard to extent of exposure and/or toxicologic properties at estimated exposure levels.


Criteria:

The health assessor must determine, using professional judgement, the "criticality" of such data and the likelihood that the data can be obtained and will be obtained in a timely manner. Where some data are available, even limited data, the health assessor is encouraged to the extent possible to select other hazard categories and to support their decision with clear narrative that explains the limits of the data and the rationale for the decision.

CATEGORY D.
NO APPARENT PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD
1

This category is used for sites where human exposure to contaminated media may be occurring, may have occurred in the past, and/or may occur in the future, but the exposure is not expected to cause any adverse health effects.


Criteria:

Evaluation of available information2 indicates that, under site-specific conditions of exposure, exposures to site-specific contaminants in the past, present, or future are not likely to result in any adverse impact on human health.

CATEGORY E.
NO PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD


This category is used for sites that, because of the absence of exposure, do NOT pose a public health hazard.


Criteria:

Sufficient evidence indicates that no human exposures to contaminated media have occurred, none are now occurring, and none are likely to occur in the future.

1 This determination represents a professional judgement based on critical data which ATSDR has judged sufficient to support a decision. This does not necessarily imply that the available data are complete; in some cases additional data may be required to confirm or further support the decision made.
2 Such as environmental and demographic data; health outcome data; exposure data; community health concerns information; toxicologic, medical, and epidemiologic data.


INTRODUCTION

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was established under the mandate of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980. This act, also known as the "Superfund" law, authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct cleanup activities at hazardous waste sites. EPA was directed to compile a list of sites considered hazardous to public health. This list is termed the National Priorities List (NPL). The 1986 Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) directed ATSDR to prepare a public health assessment (PHA) for each NPL site (Note: Appendix A provides a listing of abbreviations and acronyms used in this report).

In conducting the PHA, three types of information are used: environmental data, community health concerns, and health outcome data. The environmental data are reviewed to determine whether people in the community might be exposed to hazardous materials from the NPL facility. If people are being exposed to these chemicals, ATSDR will determine whether the exposure is at levels which might cause harm. Community health concerns are collected to determine whether health concerns expressed by community members could be related to exposure to chemicals released from the NPL facility. If the community raises concerns about specific diseases in the community, health outcome data (information from state and local databases or health care providers) can be used to address the community concerns. Also, if ATSDR finds that harmful exposures have occurred, health outcome data can be used to determine if illnesses are occurring which could be associated with the hazardous chemicals released from the NPL facility.

In accordance with the interagency cooperative agreement between ATSDR and the Texas Department of Health (TDH), ATSDR and TDH have prepared this PHA for the Hart Creosoting Company NPL site. This PHA presents conclusions about whether exposures are occurring, and whether a health threat is present. In some cases, it is possible to determine whether exposures occurred in the past; however, often a lack of appropriate historical data makes it difficult to quantify past exposures. If it is found that a threat to public health exists, recommendations are made to stop or reduce the threat to public health.


BACKGROUND

Site Description and History

The Hart Creosoting Company (Hart) site is an 8.8 acre site located approximately one mile south of downtown Jasper in Jasper County, Texas. The Hart site is on the west side of U.S. Highway 96 (Figure 1). There are forests to the west, south and north, and a small intermittent creek along the west boundary of the site [1]. The nearest residence (vacant) is off-site near the northeast property boundary [2]. There is an operating automotive repair business on the eastern portion of the property, and other commercial businesses are across U.S. Highway 96.

The Hart site operated as a creosote wood preserver from 1958 until 1993 [2]. Lumber was treated with steam containing creosote under pressure to weatherproof fence posts and utility poles [2]. In addition to the wood treatment operations, a pole peeling plant operated at the facility from 1968 to 1978, and a pipe threading operation was on the property from 1982 until 1985 [3]. Liquid waste from the creosoting operation was treated on site. The site formerly consisted of a wood treatment/processing area, a drip area, four surface impoundments designated Ponds "A," "B," "C," and "D," and a wastewater treatment system (Figure 2a).

Between 1984 and 1991, state environmental agencies repeatedly cited Hart Creosoting for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In 1985, the Texas Department of Water Resources referred the facility to the Texas Attorney General because of groundwater contamination [2]. In 1993, Roy F. Weston, Inc., (Weston) conducted an Expanded Site Inspection (ESI) for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Weston noted six above ground storage tanks (Tanks numbered 1 through 6), seven wastewater treatment tanks (Tanks "A" through "G") and 12 groundwater monitoring wells (Wells numbered 1 through 7, 1A through 3A, 5A and 5B) on the site [1, 2]. Other documented structures were a shop and an office building on the eastern part of the site and an abandoned pipe threading shop on the northeast corner of the site [2]. Weston also verified the presence of site contaminants in surface soil and shallow groundwater [1]. In 1994, the owner of the Hart site dismantled and removed the on-site tanks and buildings.

In 1995, EPA pumped contaminated water from the on-site surface impoundments and treated it to remove contaminants. The treated water was discharged to the intermittent creek along the western boundary of the site [4]. EPA also excavated contaminated sediments, soils and hazardous materials from visually contaminated areas on the site and enclosed them in a clay-lined and clay-capped on-site storage pit (Figure 2b). During our site visit, we noted that the storage pit was surrounded by a six-foot high intruder-resistant fence that was posted with warning signs.

The Hart site was proposed to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites in April 1999 [5]. The Hart site was finalized to the National Priorities List in July 1999 [3].

Demographics

There are 6,959 people living in Jasper, Texas [6]. The total number of people living within a one-mile radius of the site is 1,063 [6]. Approximately 10% (103 inpiduals) are children 6 years of age or younger. When the site was active, approximately seven people worked at the facility [2].



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