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The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concluded that the Oklahoma Refining Company site was a public health hazard during its operation based on probable exposure during the release of wastes from the oil refinery process. The site is a public health hazard for on-site trespassers and possibly on-site workers, if unprotected, due to open waste pits, ponds, and traps. However, trespassing is unlikely at this time since a fence has been installed between the active refinery and the pits, ponds, and traps. Future use of contaminated groundwater for drinking water could also pose a public health hazard.

Contaminants associated with the site include volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile compounds, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and petroleum hydrocarbons. Heavy metals and PAHs are the primary contaminants at levels of health concern. Ingestion of wastes and contaminated soil could lead to adverse health effects caused primarily by elevated concentrations of heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Potential human exposure pathways at the site are ingestion of or dermal contact with contaminated soil and waste sources. Contaminated groundwater has not been and is not being used for drinking water. During the operation of Oklahoma Refining Company, ambient air is likely to have been a significant exposure pathway for on-site workers and off-site residents. Residents swimming in Gladys Creek downstream of the ORC site during refinery operations are likely to have been exposed to contaminants in surface water and sediments.

Data inadequacies include information on ambient air concentrations during the operation of ORC, current ambient air concentrations and meteorological conditions, and heavy metals in soils of nearby residential yards.


ATSDR recommends the following actions be taken to protect public health:

  1. Continue to restrict public access to on-site waste pits, ponds, and traps and other areas of surface contamination. Further restrict assess to areas that are not obvious to trespassers such as the pit beside the fenced separator area.

  2. Sample residential yards near the site for heavy metals (particularly arsenic, barium, chromium and lead) and PAHs.

  3. Test farming soils irrigated by Gladys Creek during operation of the refinery for metals, if water was removed immediately downstream of ORC. Prevent use of contaminated sections of the creek for irrigation.

  4. Water used at the site for drinking and industrial purposes should come from an uncontaminated water supply. A notice that shallow groundwater is contaminated should be attached to the property deed.

  5. During remediation, continue to monitor water and sediment of Gladys Creek to determine if contaminants are leaving the site. Measures should be taken to prevent contaminants from leaving the site via surface water, particularly during remedial activities.

  6. Include the following actions in the remediation workplan when additional site remediation takes place:

    Provide adequate personal protective equipment that meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for workers conducting remedial activities in and around the site.

    Employ methods of dust suppression if remediation will disturb the ground cover. In addition to on-site air monitoring, appropriate real-time, peripheral air monitoring should be conducted during working hours. Levels of contaminants in ambient air at the periphery of the site should not exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) or NIOSH recommendations. All actions to prevent exposures to contaminants associated with the ORC site during remediation should help protect people working or living on or near the site.

  7. Due to the volatile nature of some site contaminants and their potential for migration through ambient air during remediation, ATSDR would like to review remedial work plans to determine if there are adequate public health safeguards.

  8. Since the refinery is active and remedial activities will begin, ATSDR recommends establishing background air quality and determining prevailing wind directions near the site (establishing a wind rose).

Health Activities Recommendation Panel

In order, to determine if public health actions are needed, ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has evaluated the data and information developed in the Oklahoma Refining Company Public Health Assessment. Based on the current environmental data, exposure to contaminants at levels of public health concern are likely to occur if trespassers or future unprotected on-site workers come in contact with contaminants in pits and impoundments, surface soil, or waste. Environmental data are not available to evaluate the past exposure to air contaminants which may have been generated during the operation of the refinery. HARP has determined that further health actions are indicated for the Oklahoma Refining Company Site. HARP determined that community health education is needed for area residents regarding health hazards of on-site contaminants that they may come in contact with when trespassing on the site, that might include posting signs alerting trespassers of the potential health hazards of site contaminants in pits and impoundments.


The purpose of the Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards but also provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment.

Actions Planned:

ATSDR will collaborate with appropriate federal, state, and local agencies to pursue the implementation of the environmental recommendations outlined in this public health assessment.

Actions Undertaken:

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has provided a fact sheet to explain the potential health effects of exposure to site contaminants (arsenic, lead, and chromium) (Appendix IV).


Laura H. Barr
Environmental Health Scientist
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment & Consultation

Tina Forrester, Ph.D.
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment & Consultation

Region VI Senior Representative:
George Pettigrew


  1. Bechtel Environmental, Inc. Remedial investigation report: Oklahoma Refining Company, Superfund Site, Cyril, Oklahoma, Volume I, prepared for Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. September 1991.

  2. EPA Administrative Record File Index, March 3, 1992 and December 2, 1993.

  3. EPA Record of Decision, Oklahoma Refining Company Site, Region VI, June 1992.

  4. Environmental Protection Agency. Hazard Ranking Score Package, Oklahoma Refinery Site, Cyril, Oklahoma, May 29, 1986.

  5. Stanley Engineering, Inc. Environmental and hydrological assessment, Oklahoma Refining Company, August 1985.

  6. Oklahoma State Department of Health comments on the ATSDRs public health assessment for the ORC site. May 1993.

  7. Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Site Inspection report, Oklahoma Refining Company, 1982-1983.

  8. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for arsenic, October 1991.

  9. Oklahoma State Department of Health, State Environmental Laboratory Service, Report of Analyses for fish, Whitfield Pond, May 1991.

  10. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for barium, July 1992.

  11. Environmental Protection Agency. New Interim Region IV guidance on toxicity equivalency factors methodology for carcinogenic PAHs. February 11, 1992.

  12. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, December 1990.

  13. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for benzene, October 1991.

  14. Amdur, MO, Doull, J, and Klaassen, CD. Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons, Pergamon Press, New York, New York, 1991.

  15. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for lead, October 1991.

  16. Wong O, Morgan RW, Bailey WJ, Swencicki RE, Claxton K, and Kheifets L. An epidemiological study of petroleum refinery employees. Br J Ind Med 1986;43:6-17.

  17. Wongsrichanalai C, Delzell E, and Cole P. Mortality from leukemia and other diseases among workers at a petroleum refinery. J Occup Med 1984;26:2.

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