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A Macon, Georgia, community member requested that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conduct a health investigation in the community surrounding the site of the former Southern Wood Piedmont Company (SWP) (ATSDR, 1995). The citizen expressed concern about human exposure to site-related contaminants and the allegedly elevated cancer rate in the community around the SWP facility. Among the petitioner's concerns was the possible migration of site-related contaminants to Freedom Park Pond and Dillon Branch Creek, which are near the SWP site, and potential human exposure to contaminant levels that may pose health hazards. In this document, ATSDR evaluates potential human exposures to surface water and sediment contaminated by SWP site activities. ATSDR reviewed information and analytical data provided by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GAEPD), SWP, and local officials to determine whether there was or is a public health hazard posed by exposure to surface water and sediment located on or in the area of the SWP property. ATSDR evaluated the groundwater and soil pathways through separate health consultations.

Site Description and History

The SWP site is situated on approximately 34 acres immediately southwest of Macon city limits in Bibb County, Georgia (see Figure 1). The SWP property is bounded to the north by railroad tracks, to the east by the Hillcrest Industrial Park, to the south by Hillcrest Avenue and commercial property, to the southwest by Dillon Branch Creek and a residential area (Hillcrest Heights subdivision), and to the northwest by Freedom Park and Dillon Branch Creek (Pierce, 1991; ViroGroup, 1996). Since 1915, various companies used the site for wood preserving activities. In the mid-1940s, SWP leased land from Norfolk and Southern Railroad (formerly the Central of Georgia Railroad) for preserving railroad ties and poles with creosote and pentachlorophenol (Pierce, 1991). ATSDR have visited the site on several occasions to obtain information, gather community health concerns, and to update the petitioner on the status of ATSDR activities. The most recent ATSDR site visit was in 1996.

The SWP site is generally flat with vegetative cover (Pierce, 1991; Davis, 1996). Roff Avenue divides the site into northern and southern sections, and several unpaved roads also exist (see Figure 2). The majority of wood processing activities occurred in the northern portion of the site, which housed the treating plant, settling ponds, and storage tank. Other distinguishing features of the northern portion include a 375-foot by 50-foot creosote pavement rectangle, two covered 20-cubic yard roll-off containers labeled for hazardous waste, a concrete sewer sump, and a Civil War munitions building. Along the eastern boundary of the northern portion lies a 300-foot long by 220-foot wide by 25-foot deep former solid waste disposal area. Presently, the top of the disposal area is covered with concrete (as a result of an adjacent industrial plant using the disposal area as a place to dump waste cement) and the base of the disposal area consists of red brick (Pierce, 1996). The southern portion contains only a few former storage areas for ties and poles and several wood piles (Pierce, 1991).

A small, partially and often densely vegetated intermittent drainage ditch flows southwesterly through the property for 2,000 feet before reaching the larger, southeasterly flowing Dillon Branch Creek. After its confluence with the drainage ditch, Dillon Branch Creek continues to flow in a southeasterly direction through residential areas for approximately 1.5 miles before joining Rocky Creek (Geraghty & Miller, 1991a; ETE, 1992).

The land in the vicinity of the site is generally used for industrial purposes but also supports commercial, residential, and recreational activities. Freedom Park, a recreational area northwest of the SWP site's former wood preserving area, comprises six baseball fields (used primarily for Little League), a playground/volleyball area, a picnic area, and Freedom Park Pond (see Figure 3).

During site operations, SWP treated crossties and poles in pressurized cylinders and dried the treated products in a track area so drippings could be collected. Both treated and untreated ties and poles were stored in several locations throughout the site. As part of its waste management practices, SWP discharged treated wastewater into on-site unlined surface impoundments (settling ponds) prior to releasing it to the Macon City Sewer System. Some time before 1980, SWP filled the surface impoundments and began using concrete tanks to store the generated wastewater (ETE, 1989). Solid waste--including highly viscous sludge from storage tanks and wood treating cylinders, metal strappings, wood fragments, concrete blocks, and bricks--was stored in the solid waste disposal area located along the eastern edge of the site. As a result of these past operations and waste management practices, wood preserving compounds contaminated on-site soil.

Operations at the facility ceased in June 1986 (Geraghty & Miller, 1991b). Since closure, site overseers implemented several remediation measures to contain on-site contamination and prevent possible off-site migration, including the destruction and removal of all on-site buildings, tanks, and rail lines, and the excavation of on-site contaminated soil. In addition, SWP erected a perimeter fence in 1992 to restrict access to contaminated areas by unauthorized personnel (Pierce, 1996). SWP also excavated an approximately 200-foot long section of contaminated sediment from the drainage ditch and replaced it with clean fill in 1994 and 1995 (Davis, 1996). The site is currently inactive and no future uses of the property have been proposed (Davis, 1996).

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