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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

CAMILLA WOOD PRESERVING COMPANY
(a/k/a ESCAMBIA TREATING COMPANY INCORPORATED
CAMILLA, MITCHELL COUNTY, GEORGIA


SUMMARY

The Camilla Wood Preserving Company (CWP), National Priorities List (NPL) Site is inCamilla, Mitchell County, Georgia west of U.S. Highway 19 and is bordered by Thomas Street tothe east and East Bennett Street to the north. The facility is located in the southern portion ofCamilla, Georgia, and is approximately 50 acres in size. A number of residential neighborhoodsbordered the site to the north and west, including an apartment complex on the western border ofthe site. Several businesses are located on the eastern border of the site, including a sawmillcompany, an auto repair center, and a Georgia Department of Transportation facility. The formerCamilla Drum site, once known as the Forshall Company, has been included as part of the Camilla site.

The wood treating facility was constructed in 1947 by the Louis Wood Preserving Company. Itwas then purchased by the Escambia Treating Company in 1950 and wood preserving operationscontinued. A creosote wood preserving process was initially used for treating railroad ties andtelephone poles until the 1980s. In the early 1970s, pentachlorophenol (PCP) was introduced asa preservative for the treatment of the poles. In the 1980s, PCP was used as the exclusivepreservative for the treatment of poles. Camilla Wood Preserving Company filed Chapter 11bankruptcy on February 8, 1991, and on February 26, 1991, all wood treating operations at thesite ceased.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reviewed the environmentaldata off-site and found that people were possibly exposed to contaminants that had migratedfrom the CWP site. They were likely exposed by incidental ingestion and inhalation ofcontaminants through contact with soil in residential yards.

ATSDR has categorized the site as a no apparent public health hazard. The data from the sitedid not indicate that humans were being exposed to levels of contamination that would beexpected to cause adverse health effects. From the results of previous sampling efforts, it was assumed that off-site media had been affected by substances that were used while the plant wasoperating.

ATSDR recommended that: (1) ATSDR or the Georgia Division of Public Health (GDPH) continue to inform residents in the vicinity of the site about the health-related aspects of CWP, and (2) the GDPH consider reviewing cancer mortality data for the city of Camilla.


BACKGROUND

In this public health assessment, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR) evaluated the public health significance of the proposed Camilla Wood PreservingCompany (CWP) national priorities list (NPL) site in Camilla, Georgia. More specifically,ATSDR reviewed environmental and health outcome data and community health concerns todetermine whether adverse health effects were possible. In addition, this public healthassessment recommended actions to reduce, prevent, or identify more clearly the possibility forsite-related adverse health effects. ATSDR, in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the agencies of theU.S. Public Health Service. The Superfund law (Comprehensive Environmental Response,Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 [CERCLA] as amended by the Superfund Amendmentsand Reauthorization Act of 1986 [SARA]) requires ATSDR to conduct public health assessmentsof hazardous waste sites within 1 year of a site's proposal for addition to the NPL.

Site Description and History

The CWP site is in the southern portion of Camilla, Mitchell County, Georgia. It is west of U.S. Highway 19 and is bordered by Thomas Street to the east and East Bennett Street to thenorth. The facility is approximately 50 acres in size (1). At the time of this health assessment, a number of residential neighborhoods border the site to the north and west, including anapartment complex on the western border of the site. Several businesses are located on theeastern border of the site, including a sawmill company, an automobile repair center, and aGeorgia Department of Transportation facility. The former Camilla Drum site, once known asthe Forshall Company, has been included as part of the CWP site.

The wood treating facility was constructed in 1947 by the Louis Wood Preserving Company. Itwas then purchased by the Escambia Treating Company in 1950 and wood preserving operationscontinued (2). A creosote wood preserving process was used for treating railroad ties andtelephone poles from the opening of the facility until the 1980s. In the early 1970s,pentachlorophenol (PCP) was introduced as a preservative for the treatment of telephone poles,and, by the1980s, became the exclusive preservative for poles. CWP filed Chapter 11bankruptcy on February 8, 1991, and on February 26, 1991, all wood treating operations at thesite ceased.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed on March 6, 1998, that the CWPsite be placed on the NPL (8). The site was added to the NPL on August 27, 1998.

EPA performed investigations and removals at the site from 1991 through 1994 (1,3). Theremoval activities included treatment or disposal of on-site surface water, gathering and storageof drums with spent chemicals from the treatment process, and removal of equipment and debris off-site.


Intro Map

Site Visits

ATSDR and the Georgia Division of Public Health (GDPH) have made a total of three site visitsto Camilla. The first was on April 20 and 21, 1998 and included representation from ATSDRand the GDPH (3). These staff members were taken on a tour of the site by a representative fromEPA. They also met with the acting city manager of Camilla, and the director andenvironmentalist of the Mitchell County Health Department.

Representatives from EPA and the GDPH conducted interviews with residents and local cityofficials in Camilla May 6 through 8, 1998 (4). In each of those interviews, concerns andquestions were raised over potential health threats that might have been caused by CWPcontaminants. EPA and GDPH representatives were able to provide answers for some of thosequestions and comments during the interviews. All of the health-related concerns are listed andresponded to in this document.

Representatives from ATSDR and the GDPH attended a public availability meeting conducted byEPA on September 22, 1998 (5). They addressed questions about the potential health hazards ofcontaminants found and the status of clean-up activities at the site. The health-related concernsare listed and addressed in the Community Health Concerns section that follows.

Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resources Use

In 1994, the city of Camilla had a population of 5,041 residents, making it the 94th largest city inthe state of Georgia (6). Fifty- three percent of Camilla's residents are White and 47% areAfrican-American. The neighborhood nearest to the site (north of Bennett Street) appeared to bealmost all of African-American decent (1). The demographics map on the preceding page describes the population breakdown for people living within one mile of the Camilla site.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

During the public availability meeting on May 7, 1998, the following public health concerns were posed.

* Several local residents and health officials voiced concerns about the high incidence of cancer diagnosed in people who lived in Camilla.
     
Response: ATSDR is recommending in this document that the GDPH evaluate cancer incidence in Camilla. However, ATSDR did not identify levels of offsite soil contaminants that would have resulted in an increase in cancer occurrence so the possible excess was likely due to reasons other than the CWP.
     
* Residents had complaints about their children having allergies and respiratory problems that they believed were caused by contaminants released offsite.
     
Response: Health effects due to ongoing exposure to site contaminants are highly unlikely because offsite contaminant levels were below health guidelines. Data are lacking to evaluate past exposures.
     
* The residents living along Bennett Street voiced concern about their yards being contaminated by surface water runoff from the site.
     
Response: Several yards along Bennett Street were contaminated with dioxin and other site contaminants transported offsite in surface water (7). In August 1994, EPA removed 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soils from these residential yards, which removed the contamination. There was additional sampling of Bennett Street area residential soil in 1998 (8). See page 7 for more information on this issue.
     
* Residents mentioned experiencing eye and throat irritation from fumes released from the site during operation. Complaints of existing respiratory problems were voiced by some residents.
     
Response: ATSDR was unable to characterize the air exposure pathway because sampling data are not available for air emissions from the site that occurred while the site was in operation.
     
* Residents expressed concerns over past exposures to contaminants released from the CWP site while in operation. These reported releases included air and water that smelled or tasted like creosote, and dumping of creosote in residential yards.
     
Response: With the exception of the air pathway, the exposure pathways for groundwater, surface soil, subsurface soil, and sediment were evaluated in this document and deemed not to present a public health hazard. There is more information on page 7.
     
* Residents living along Bennett Street voiced concern about the stained soil excavated during the sewer/water line installation. They were also worried that contaminated soil was under some residents' homes.
     
Response: EPA is in the process of evaluating this issue.1 Testing to identify the extent of this contamination was completed in the summer of 1999.
     
* Residents wanted to know what services ATSDR would provide to the community to address concerns about the site.
     
Response: ATSDR or GDPH will provide the community with additional information about the test results on contaminants associated with the site.


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