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ATSDR Press Room

No Health Threat from Eating Plants and Animals Found Near the Savannah River Site


Aiken County, South Carolina

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eating plants and animals grown or produced near the Savannah River Site (SRS) does not expose people to harmful levels of radioactive contaminants, says the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in a recently released public health assessment. However, consuming large amounts of bowfin, largemouth bass, and catfish from certain portions of the Savannah River might increase health risks from mercury exposure, especially to children or other sensitive populations.

The findings are part of a public health assessment now available for public comment.

The Savannah River Site is a 310 square mile facility of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) located in South Carolina bordering the Savannah River. ATSDR looked at possible human exposure from eating chemical and radioactive materials found in plants and animals from or near the site since 1993. (Exposure before 1993 was addressed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Savannah River Site Environmental Dose Reconstruction Project finalized in 2005.) Based on current and planned use of the site, the conclusions about possible exposure to these materials should not change.

In the health assessment, ATSDR also concluded:

  • People can safely consume some types of fish found in the Savannah River if they follow species-specific South Carolina and Georgia fish advisories.
  • Concentrations of metals other than mercury in fish from the Savannah River and its tributaries do not pose a public health hazard.
  • People eating animals harvested on-site during controlled hunts monitored by DOE should not be exposed to harmful levels of radioactive contaminants.
  • The amount of mercury in the Savannah River originating from SRS is unknown.
  • Because data are limited, ATSDR cannot determine health risks from exposure to non-metal contaminants in plants and animals, such as pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins/furans. However the agency does not expect that SRS-related activities would result in the accumulation of harmful levels of these chemicals in local produce or livestock.

This health assessment is available for comment through October 10, 2011.

During the public comment period residents can review and provide comments on the agency findings. Comments on the public health assessment must be made in writing.

The assessment can be viewed at: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/pha/index.asp. It is also available at the following locations:

U.S. Department of Energy Public Reading Room
Gregg- Graniteville Library
University of South Carolina – Aiken Campus 
471 University Parkway
Aiken, SC 29801
Contact: Stan Price

Thomas Cooper Library
Government Information Department
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
Contact: Deborah Yerkes

Reese Library 
Government Information Section               
Augusta State University
2500 Walton Way 
Augusta, GA 30904
Contact: Yadira Payne

Asa H. Gordon Library
Savannah State University  
2200 Tompkins Road
Savannah, GA 31404   
Contact: James Stephens

Mail comments to:

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
ATTN: Record Center
4770 Buford Highway, NE, Mailstop F-09
Atlanta, GA 30341

Comments received during the public comment period will be logged into the ATSDR administrative record. These comments, along with ATSDR responses, will appear in an appendix to the final version of the report. Names of individuals and groups who submit comments will not appear in the report. Names will be subject to release for requests made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Community members wanting more information may contact the health assessor, Carol Connell, at 770-488-0772 or at ccc8@cdc.gov. CDC and ATSDR maintain a general toll-free number (1-800-CDC-INFO); callers to this number must reference the Savannah River Site.

Members of the news media can request an interview by calling the NCEH/ATSDR Office of Communication at 770-488-0700.

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Related PHA & HC For this Press Release


Savannah River Site
-Evaluation of OffSite Air Contamination from the Savannah River Site (USDOE)
Document Date: 2/3/2014 - PHA  [PDF - 4349 KB]

Savannah River Site
-Evaluation of Exposures to Contaminants in Biota Originating from Savannah River Site
Document Date: 2/29/2012 - PHA  [PDF - 18358 KB]

Savannah River Site
-Evaluation of Exposures to Contaminants in Biota Originating from the Savannah River Site (USDOE)
Document Date: 8/25/2011 - PHA  [PDF - 9550 KB]

Savannah River Site
-Evaluation of Off-Site Groundwater and Surface Water Contamination at the Savannah River Site (USDOE)
Document Date: 12/17/2007 - PHA  [PDF - 2298 KB]

Savannah River Site
-Evaluation of Off-Site Groundwater and Surface Water Contamination at the Savannah River Site (USDOE) - Public Comment Release
Document Date: 3/1/2007 - PHA  [PDF - 2194 KB]

The Savannah River Site
-Tritium Releases and Potential Offsite Exposures
Document Date: 3/11/2002 - HC  [HTML]

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Related News Releases For South Carolina, USA

 

No Health Threat to Public from Most Airborne Emissions from the Savannah River Site
Release Date: Friday, February 07, 2014
ATLANTA—The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has released its final public health assessment evaluating whether exposures to radioactive materials and other chemical pollutants in the air around the Savannah River site could affect health.

Public Comments Sought on Savannah River Site Public Health Assessment
Release Date: Monday, July 01, 2013
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is seeking public comment on a public health assessment released today evaluating whether exposures to radioactive materials and other chemical pollutants in the air around the Savannah River site could affect human health.

No Health Threat from Eating Plants and Animals Found near the Savannah River Site
Release Date: Monday, March 26, 2012
Eating plants and animals grown or produced near the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS) does not expose people to harmful levels of radioactive contaminants, says the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in a recently released public health assessment.

Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfield Health Assessment
Release Date: Friday, July 15, 2011
People living near the Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfield site in McCormick County, South Carolina are not likely to be harmed by chemicals from Main Pit area of the site, concludes a report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

ATSDR seeks public comments on Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfield health assessment
Release Date: Monday, May 17, 2010
People living near the Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfield site are not likely to be harmed by chemicals from Main Pit area of the site, a report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concluded.

ATSDR to Host a Public Availability Session About the Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfields Site
Release Date: Friday, June 19, 2009
The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is hosting a public availability session in McCormick, South Carolina, in regard to the Barite Hill/Nevada Goldfields site. A public availability session gives community members the opportunity to meet one-on-one with ATSDR staff to share their comments and health concerns about the site.

ATSDR Report: Savannah River Site Contaminants in Off-Site Water Pose No Health Threat
Release Date: Friday, December 21, 2007
The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has found no contamination in off-site groundwater from the Savannah River Site (SRS).

ATSDR Report: Savannah River Site Contaminants in Off-Site Water Pose No Health Threat, SC
Release Date: Thursday, March 15, 2007
The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has found no contamination in off-site groundwater from the Savannah River Site (SRS). While site-related contaminants were detected in off-site surface water, they pose no health concern. In the course of its investigation, ATSDR also found naturally occurring radium in the municipal drinking water at levels that could pose health concerns, especially for infants drinking formula and juice mixed with tap water.

ATSDR releases final health consultation for the International Minerals and Chemical and Arkwright Dump sites in Spartanburg, South Carolina
Release Date: Friday, October 04, 2002
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has released its final public health consultation for the International Minerals and Chemical (IMC) and Arkwright Dump sites in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IV office asked ATSDR to review and evaluate analytical data acquired by Boston Chemical Data Corp. for contaminants near the IMC and Arkwright Dump sites in Spartanburg, and to address possible health effects from the contaminants on people living near the sites.

ATSDR Releases Draft Health Consultation for International Minerals and Chemical and Arkwright Dump Sites
Release Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2002
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has released its draft public health consultation for the International Minerals & Chemical (IMC) and Arkwright Dump sites in Spartanburg, S.C. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IV office asked ATSDR to review and evaluate analytical data acquired by Boston Chemical Data Corp. for contaminants near the IMC and Arkwright Dump sites in Spartanburg, and to address possible health effects to current residents living near the sites.

Any day now! Results of an exposure investigation in the Simpsonville - Fountain Inn area of South Carolina are pending.
Release Date: Wednesday, August 22, 2001
ATSDR conducted an exposure investigation in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) to assess human exposure to uranium from drinking water and to better characterize radionuclide contamination in water from private wells in the Simpsonville/Fountain Inn area of Greenville County, South Carolina. Biological and environmental testing was completed in April after SCDHEC discovered that some private wells in the area showed a high concentration of uranium.

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