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ATSDR Press Room

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


Aiken County, Aiken, South Carolina

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. 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 final public health assessment now available on ATSDR’s Web site http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/pha/index.asp.

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 DOE property 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-such as pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins/furans-in plants and animals. 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 public health assessment 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

If a hard copy of this report is desired, please contact:

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

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.

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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 Aiken County, Aiken, South Carolina

 

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.

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.

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Contact Us:
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    Atlanta, GA 30341
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USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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