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DHHS has determined that the Messer Street MGP site is a public health hazard because people whoswim or wade in the river would be at risk for short-term skin or eye irritation if they were to contactcoal tar in the sediments. Chronic exposures of this nature may increase an individual's risk ofdeveloping skin cancer. Children are more likely to swim or wade in the river than adults and,therefore, would be at higher risk. However, noncancerous effects on internal organs or developmentaleffects are not expected [1].

DES requested that DHHS review and comment on the proposed plan for additional remediation of thesite [2]. Our conclusions and recommendations regarding the remedial plan are as follows:

  1. The proposed remediation will eliminate the public health hazards at the site.

  2. In general, appropriate steps will be taken to prevent exposures during the remedial operations.However, some additional testing, land use restrictions, and public notification should be added to the plan.

  3. New test results for sediment contamination are consistent with the data reviewed for the Public Health Assessment.


  1. Surface water quality downstream of the dredging operation should be tested periodically to ensure that contaminants are not being mobilized.

  2. Sediment quality in the contaminated area should be tested after the remedial action is complete to verify that the cleanup goals have been met.

  3. Use of the boat launch on the site should be prohibited while remedial work in Opechee Bay is underway.

  4. In addition to a public meeting, information on the remedial plan should be mailed to interested parties and residents who abut the river downstream. DHHS will make its mailing list available for this purpose. The owners of properties abutting the river between the site and Avery Dam should be identified through town records.


The purpose of the Public Health Action Plan is to ensure that this Health Consultation not onlyidentifies any current and potential exposure pathways and related health hazards, but also provides aplan of action to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposures tohazardous substances in the environment. The first section of the Public Health Action Plan containsa description of completed and ongoing actions taken to mitigate environmental contamination. In thesecond section there is a list of additional public health actions that are planned for the future.

(A) Completed or Ongoing Actions

Significant progress has been made by the parties who have assumed responsibility for the remediationof the Messer Street MGP site and DES towards cleaning up the contamination on the site. Thefollowing is a summary of major accomplishments and works in progress that bears specifically onpublic health aspects of the site.

  1. Between 1993 and January 1999, the parties who have assumed responsibility for cleaning upthe site completed multiple environmental investigations and a Remedial Action Plan [2].

  2. In 1995, after reviewing environmental data for sediments near the site, DHHS issued anadvisory against swimming in the section of the river starting at the Messer Street Bridge andextending 1,000 feet downstream. Permanent "No Swimming" signs were posted around theaffected area.

  3. In March 1999 DHHS held a public availability session at the Laconia City Hall. At thissession, residents identified their health concerns to state health officials in confidence.

  4. In July 1999, DHHS distributed a survey to residents in the immediate vicinity of the site togather information on their health concerns about the site, 37% were returned.

  5. Between September 1999 and January 2000, the first phase of the remediation was nearly completed, the objective of which was to stop discharges of mobile coal tar to the river.

  6. In January 2000, DHHS completed a draft Public Health Assessment for the site and distributedit for public comment [2]. The public comment period ends on February 18, 2000.

  7. In February 2000, by means of this Health Consultation, DHHS advised DES on the publichealth impacts of the proposed plan for remediating contaminated sediments in theWinnipesaukee River and Opechee Bay.

(B) Planned Actions

  1. In the spring of 2000, DES and DHHS will identify any "No Swimming" signs that weredamaged or removed during the previous winter and will work with the parties who haveassumed responsibility for the site cleanup to replace them. The "No Swimming" signs in the contaminated area will remain in place until the remediation of the river sediments is finished and the advisory is deemed unnecessary.

  2. DHHS will conduct an educational campaign about the state-wide fish consumption advisory before the start of the fishing season in 2000.

  3. DHHS will continue to advise DES on questions of health risk during the full remediation of the site, which is scheduled for completion in January 2001. As part of this, DHHS will review new environmental and air monitoring data collected at the site.

  4. If conditions on the site change from those evaluated in the Public Health Assessment or this Health Consultation, DHHS will revisit its conclusions regarding the public health hazards present on the site.


Phil Trowbridge, Environmental Health Risk Analyst
Bureau of Health Risk Assessment
Office of Community and Public Health
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
6 Hazen Drive
Concord, New Hampshire 03301
(603) 271-4664
(603) 271-3991 (fax)


The Health Consultation for the Messer Street MGP site, Laconia, New Hampshire, was prepared by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the Health Consultation was begun.

Gregory V. Ulirsch, M.S.
Technical Project Officer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch (SSAB)
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this Health Consultation and concurs with its findings.

Richard Gillig
Acting Chief, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR


  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Public Health Assessment for the MesserStreet Manufactured Gas Plant Site, Laconia, Belknap County, New Hampshire. PublicComment Release. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service,Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, Georgia. January 14, 2000.

  2. Haley & Aldrich, Inc. Technical Memorandum - Recommended SED-3 Remedy, Messer Street Former MGP Site, Laconia, New Hampshire. Manchester, New Hampshire. January 2000.

  3. Northeast Utilities Service Company. Results of the 1994 Site Investigation. Manchester, New Hampshire. June 1995.

Table 1.

Concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and selected volatile organic compounds in sediment samples collected near the Messer Street site.
ID Description Tot. PAHs (mg/kg) 1 B(a)P TEQ (mg/kg) 1 Benzene (mg/kg) Toluene (mg/kg) Ethylbenzene (mg/kg) Xylenes (mg/kg) Styrene (mg/kg)
  New Data Collected in August 1999
C-4 Composite sample from the Winnipesaukee River between the bridges (n=11) 133.5 8.2 ND (0.05) ND (0.05) 0.13 0.22 ND (0.05)
C-2 Composite sample from the sandbar downstream of railroad bridge (n=11) 3.4 0.6 ND (0.01) ND (0.01) 0.02 0.04 ND (0.01)
C-3 Composite sample taken downstream of sandbar (n=7) 32.4 2.0 ND (0.01) ND (0.01) ND (0.01) ND (0.02) ND (0.01)
C-1 Composite sample from Opechee Bay (n=14) ND (1.7) ND (0.2) ND (0.01) ND (0.01) ND (0.01) ND (0.02) ND (0.01)
  Old Data from Tables 1 and 2 of the Public Health Assessment
NA Average for surface sediments in shallow sections of the Winnipesaukee river (n=36) 91.1 6.1 NA NA NA NA NA
NA Average for surface sediments in Opechee Bay near the boat ramp at the site (n=6) 65.4 1.4 NA NA NA NA NA
NA Average for surface sediments collected near the site (n=48) NA NA 0.28 1.97 8.42 10.2 0.23

NA = Not Available.
ND (value) = Not Detected. The value in parentheses is the method detection limit.

1.      The benzo(a)pyrene toxic equivalent (B(a)P TEQ) concentration for each sample was calculated using toxic equivalency factors from EPA. Non-detected PAHs were assigned a value of one-half the method detection limit for the calculation of both the total PAH and benzo(a)pyrene TEQ concentrations. The individual PAHs included in these summary statistics were: acenaphthene, acenaphthylene, anthracene, benzo(g,h,i)perylene, fluoranthene, fluorene, 2-methylnaphthalene, 1-methylnaphthalene, naphthalene, phenanthrene, pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, benzo(a)pyrene, chrysene, dibenz(a,h)anthracene, and indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene.

Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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