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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

MONTICELLO MILL TAILINGS (DOE) AND
MONTICELLO RADIOACTIVELY CONTAMINATED PROPERTIES
(aka MONTICELLO VICINITY PROPERTIES)


Appendix F

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. General Location Map

Figure 2
Figure 2. Monticello Mill Tailings Site

Figure 3
Figure 3. Status of Monticello Vicinity Properties, July 1, 1993

Figure 4
Figure 4. Status of Monticello Vicinity Properties, February 1995

Figure 5
Figure 5. Population Density

Figure 6
Figure 6. Children 5 Years and Younger

Figure 7
Figure 7. Adults Age 30-59

Figure 8
Figure 8. Adults 60 Years and Older

Figure 9
Figure 9. Females Age 15-44

Figure 10
Figure 10. Locations of Tailings Piles

Figure 11
Figure 11. Upgradient and On-Site Surface Water Sampling Locations

Figure 12a
Figure 12a. Downgradient Surface Water Sampling Locations

Figure 12b
Figure 12b. Downgradient Surface Water Sampling Locations

Figure 13
Figure 13. Upgradient and On-Site Monitoring Well Locations

Figure 14
Figure 14. Downgradient Monitoring Well Locations

Figure 15
Figure 15. Atmospheric Radon Monitoring Locations at or Near the Monticello Millsite

Figure 16
Figure 16. Atmospheric Radon Monitoring Locations At or Near the MMTS

Figure 17
Figure 17. Air Particulate Sampling Locations At and Near the Monticello Mill Tailings Site

Figure 18
Figure 18.

Figure 19
Figure 19. Existing Pathways at the Monticello Mill Tailings Site

Figure 20
Figure 20. Direct Environmental Radiation Monitoring Locations at or Near the Monticello Millsite

Appendix G

Comments to Public Comment Release

While I do not understand all I should when I remember how uranium was mined and milled, and knowing many people who did the work and are still alive, including myself, I wonder why it requires so many people to stand about watching one or two machine operators work. How can we assume that the radiation from soils in Monticello is a result of uranium contamination when we have learned that radon-222 is prevalent everywhere emanating from other sources than uranium or radium, or is the entire earth surface contaminated with enough of those two elements to cause the radon gas?

    NO CHANGE. The document identifies that the radioactive elements uranium, radium, and radon are both naturally occurring in the environment and concentrated by milling operations. The document describes that radioactive material concentrations on the mill site and around Monticello were elevated above natural ambient levels; this elevation was attributed to the mill site's operations. See the Overview of Radiation and Sources of Contamination sections for further information.

The report would be more meaningful to the lay reader if the names of government agencies had been written out instead of using initials.

    NO CHANGE. Throughout this public health assessment each time a new section is begun the complete name of every abbreviation is spelled out, with its initials in parentheses, to serve as a refresher to the reader. In addition, pages vi and vii located at the front of the public health assessment contain a complete list of all abbreviations.

There seems to be repetition in relationship to radiation from uranium workings, mining, milling, etc., in various discussions within the report.

    NO CHANGE. Since it is the radiation given off by uranium that is important to human exposure during mining, milling, etc., the apparent repetition provides a more complete understanding of the human health aspects of this subject. In addition, this apparent repetition serves as a consistent reminder to the reader of the entire document as well as to those who review only selected sections.

Mailed by ATSDR plus second copy received from local DOE contractor, why do I need 2 copies? Is there a lack of communication somewhere?

    NO CHANGE. Not a comment on the content of the public health assessment.

The Summary and Background (Land Use) section portions of the report state that Monticello is the largest town in San Juan County. The 1990 Census gives population of Monticello is 1806, population of Blanding as 3,162. If the compilers of the report can not be correct in such an easily researched thing as that, how can a lay person, knowing the error, take stock in other conclusions?

    CHANGE. Wording changed to clarify that Monticello is the largest town in San Juan County in terms of area (Monticello total area = 2.74 square miles versus Blanding total area = 1.92 square miles), not population.

My father worked at the mill from 1953 until it closed. We lived for 4 years in the mill apartments, located by the tailings pond. My father worked with the yellow cake and after the mill closed down they moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. The doctor put him on oxygen since his lungs were contaminated with radiation. He passed away with silicosis. I have thyroid disease and cataracts, people tell me because I lived by the tailings ponds, is this true?

    CHANGE. Silicosis is a debilitating lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust, a nonradioactive substance released into the air during, e.g., mining and sandblasting activities. An estimated 2 million U.S. workers are at risk for silicosis (1).

    One must come in direct contact with the tailings ponds (e.g., swimming) to have exposure. It is apparent from community responses that in the past children swam in the tailings ponds. However, ATSDR scientists do not have any environmental sampling data from those ponds; therefore, it is impossible to determine the concentrations of arsenic, molybdenum, selenium, and vanadium to which these children were exposed. Additional toxicological information follows to address thyroid disease and cataracts in relation to the four chemicals mentioned above.

    If someone lived near the pond, but never swam in the water, or if they did swim in the pond, but never swallowed any of the water, the contaminants in the pond could not have caused their illnesses. The contaminants of concern in the pool that had the potential to cause illness were arsenic, molybdenum, selenium, and vanadium. ATSDR scientists searched the biomedical literature from 1966 to August 1997 and could not find any studies associating human ingestion of these substances with increased incidence of cataracts. ATSDR scientists considered whether pond water could cause illness if it entered the body through open scratches in the skin of swimmers. Although it was possible to cause cataracts by injecting large amounts of selenium under the skin of newborn rats, the cataracts cleared spontaneously a month after the injection (2), or could be prevented by simultaneous injection with arsenic, another pond contaminant (3). ATSDR scientists agree with another reviewer of this literature who concluded that "certain experimental models for . . . cataract have been useful for study of the cataractogenic process but are probably not important factors in the human disease. Little current evidence supports significant roles in human senile cataract for . . . excessive intake of selenium" (4).

    There are many types of thyroid diseases. Some are caused by damage to the thyroid gland that prevents the gland from making the hormone T4, or by inability to make T3, the active form of the hormone, either in the thyroid or in the liver. In either case, the effect would be hypothyroidism. The body would not receive enough stimulation from the hormone to generate all the energy it needs. A person might feel tired all the time and gain too much weight. A similar problem could result if body tissues and organs are genetically incapable of recognizing the active hormone. Thyroid hormones contain iodine, and a diet inadequate in iodine can cause the gland to become very large in an attempt to make more hormone with the scant iodine supply. This enlargement of the thyroid gland is called goiter. Overproduction of thyroid hormone can result if the pituitary signals the thyroid to produce too much hormone, and this hyperthyroidism can cause excess energy to be consumed. A person is continually nervous, active, and underweight. Other thyroid diseases include benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) thyroid growths, and thyroiditis (inflamed thyroid tissues).

    Very large amounts of arsenic (a pond contaminant) in rats' drinking water can cause toxic changes to their thyroid glands, but these changes can be prevented if selenium (another pond contaminant) is also present in the drinking water (5). In parts of Africa where the diet is deficient in both iodine and selenium, goiters were often found. If selenium supplements were given to treat that deficiency without first treating the lack of iodine, the thyroid became further impaired (6). This would not likely be a problem in Utah, where selenium is naturally abundant. Selenium is needed to make the enzymes in the thyroid and liver that convert T4 thyroid hormone to the active T3. It is not surprising that those with inadequate selenium in their diets (especially older people) may be hypothyroid, with high blood levels of T4 and low blood levels of T3 (7). Recently, people with excessive dietary selenium intake were found to have a similar imbalance of these two thyroid hormones (8). A study of rats given diets that were insufficient, adequate, or excessive in selenium showed the T4/T3 imbalance with both the low and high selenium diets, but not the normal selenium diet (9). We could find no information about whether normal T4/T3 balance was restored when the selenium intake was corrected. No information was found to indicate that any of the pond contaminants could cause hyperthyroidism, thyroid tumors (benign or malignant), or thyroiditis.

I think it all very stupid and a colossal waste of the taxpayers' money. Stop the stupidity! Get a job. Leave us alone.

    NO CHANGE. Not a comment on the content of the public health assessment. According to the United States Code Annotated Title 42: there is hereby established within the Public Health Service an agency, to be known as the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which shall report directly to the Surgeon General of the United States. In addition to other entities, the administrator of ATSDR shall perform a health assessment for each facility on the National Priorities List established under section 9605 of this title.

Need to take care of dust while working at the mill site. I have radiation on one of my lungs. What can I do to get help?

    NO CHANGE. Not a comment on the content of the public health assessment. For contact names regarding issues surrounding the federal compensation act, see Appendix D, Other Community Concerns Evaluation section, Number 4.

I don't understand, but my husband worked at the mill. He contracted leukemia and died 1 1/2 years later. His doctor said he felt that his cancer was working around chemicals and was work related.

    NO CHANGE. Internal exposure to alpha radiation emitting radioactive materials, e.g., uranium and radium, have been related to bone cancer but not to leukemia. This is based primarily on studies of the radium dial painters and is likely due to the inability of alpha particles to penetrate through the bone and into the marrow where leukemia would originate. Radiation-induced leukemia has been related to large exposures from gamma radiation sources outside the body, e.g., Japanese atomic bomb survivors.

It doesn't show that mill workers' and citizens' cancer and other illnesses were caused by exposure to the effects of the operation of the mill.

    CHANGE. The Conclusions have been changed to include the health outcome data findings (the increase in lung, prostate, and breast cancers) discussed in the Public Health Implications (Health Outcome Data Evaluation) section.

The information on deaths, diseases, etc., is obtained from Utah records. However, most people moved from Monticello after the mill closed, and many moved out of state. It doesn't seem to me the report could be accurate without the health history of those who moved.

    NO CHANGE. Representatives of ATSDR identified and reviewed many sources of health outcome data for the Monticello area. Currently there are no resources that specifically take into account and identify former residents. Follow-up health studies are being considered by ATSDR scientists for the Monticello community. These studies will take into account people who have moved away from Monticello.

"It is no surprise that the agency failed to identify effects in this study. They have to limit the liability of the government, and they did just that."

    NO CHANGE. Not a comment on the content of the public health assessment.

Will you please continue sending me these reports? My wife died of breast cancer and I'm concerned for my children.

    Yes, we will continue to send the reports to people who request them.
    CHANGE. Information regarding breast cancer is discussed in the Public Health Implications (Health Outcome Data Evaluation) section. The Conclusions have been changed to include the health outcome data findings discussed in the Public Health Implications (Health Outcome Data Evaluation) section.

The time line for danger is endless and the dangers are extreme! Cancer-related deaths are much too high for the population of the area. Your report is scary! The people in this area are in extreme danger!!!

    NO CHANGE. Not a comment on the content of the public health assessment.

Health risk seems minimal-why continue study? The conclusions and actions did not seem to justify the expense of the project. Opening summary said not a great health risk. Why then is $230+ million being spent to clean up the area rather than to contain it on site?

    NO CHANGE. Not a comment on the content of the public health assessment.

REFERENCES FOR APPENDIX OF COMMENTS TO PUBLIC COMMENT RELEASE

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Silicosis among workers involved in abrasive blasting--Cleveland, Ohio, 1995. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1997;46:744-747.
  2. Anderson RS, Shearer TR, Claycomb CK. Selenite-induced epithelial damage and cortical cataract. Current Eye Research 1986;5(1):53-61.
  3. Shearer TR, Anderson RS, Britton JL. Influence of selenite and fourteen trace elements on cataractogenesis in the rat. 1983;24(4):417-23.
  4. Bunce GE, Kinoshita J, Horwitz J. Nutritional factors in cataract. Annual Review of Nutrition 1990;10:233-54, as abstracted by MEDLINE, National Library of Medicine.
  5. Glattre E, Mravcova A, Lener J, Vobecky M, Dgertova E, Myslivecckova M. Study of distribution and interaction of arsenic and selenium in rat thyroid. Biological Trace Element Research 1995;49(2-3):177-86.
  6. Contempre B, Dumont JE, Ngo B, Thilly CH, Diplock AT, Vanderpas J. Effect of selenium supplementation in hypothyroid subjects of an iodine and selenium sufficient area: the possible danger of indiscriminate supplementation of iodine-deficient subjects with selenium. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 1991; 73(1):213-5.
  7. Olivieri O, Girelli D, Stanzial AM, Rossi L, Bassi A, Corrocher R. Selenium, zinc, and thyroid hormones in healthy subjects: low T3/T4 ratio in elderly is related to impaired selenium status. Biological Trace Element Research 1996;51(1):31-41.
  8. Bratter P, Negretti de Bratter VE. Influence of high dietary selenium intake on the thyroid hormone level in human serum. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology 1996;10(3):163-6.
  9. Eder K, Kralik A, Kirchgessner M. Beeinflussung des Stoffwehsels der Schilddrusenhormone bei defizitarrer bis subtoxischer Selenversorgung. [Effects on metabolism of thyroid hormones in deficient to subtoxic selenium supply levels] [German]. Zeitschrift fur Ernahrungswissenschaft 1995;34(4):277-83.



FOOTNOTES

1. Working level (WL) is a unit of measure developed to measure concentrations of radon gas and its daughters in air. A working level is defined as any combination of the short-lived daughters of radon-222 in 1 liter of air that will ultimately emit a total of 130,000 MeV of alpha-particle energy. The Environmental Protection Agency often assumes that radon daughters in air exist at one-half their equilibrium concentration. Under these conditions, 1 pCi/L equals 0.005 WL.

2. In physics, a transmutation is any process in which a nuclide is transformed into a different nuclide, usually one of a different element.


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