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Based on the information provided and reviewed by the Louisiana Office of Public Health, it is concluded that Petro-Processors is a public health hazard as a result of past, present and future exposure to chlorinated hydrocarbons, and aromatic chlorinated hydrocarbons (HCB, HCBD). The contaminants are present in all environmental media including soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, air, and fish.

Human exposure to these chemicals may occur via ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact with soil, sediment and surface water, inhalation of air, and ingestion of fish. The population at highest risk of exposure are (1) workers remediating the site who do not follow the Health and Safety plan designed for their protection, (2) workers in the industrial plants near the site, and (3) the surrounding community. Residents probably have been exposed, and will continue to be exposed if they trespass onto the site, swim in the bayou, and do not adhere to the Devil's Swamp finfish consumption advisory.

Ingestion of groundwater represents a future exposure pathway since the PPI site is overlying the "400-foot" aquifer which is used for industrial and private purposes. There is a threat of future contamination, since the lateral and vertical extent of groundwater contamination has not been fully determined and there has been no survey of private and abandoned wells. The "400-foot" aquifer represents a potential future route of exposure through ingestion and dermal contact. There is no restriction on using this aquifer, therefore, an individual could purchase property near the Brooklawn or Scenic Highway areas and install a well at any depth, thus creating a potential future exposure pathway through ingestion and dermal contact with water from these wells.

Residential yards have not been sampled and they represent a potential exposure pathway. An evaluation of the health outcome data did not demonstrate a significant difference between the community of Alsen and the comparison populations. Cancer and stillbirth rates were not elevated. However, these results do not eliminate the possibility that a few individuals could have suffered adverse health effects from exposure to site contaminants since statistical significance of health outcome is generally not achieved when only a few cases occur in a population.

The Advisory for finfish consumption for Devil's Swamp should remain in effect. Crawfish data was analyzed and the results indicate that no apparent adverse health effects would be expected from the present levels of contaminants detected. Therefore, there is no current advisory on crawfish consumption, however it is recommended that further sampling be conducted.


  1. The site should continue to be secured and the public should be educated about not trespassing onto the site. Warning signs identifying Petro-Processors as a hazardous waste site should be more visible. Signs posting no swimming and fishing in Devil's Swamp and Bayou Baton Rouge should be increased and placed visibly throughout the area, during periods of both high and low water levels. This has not been accomplished in the past.

  2. The migration of the contaminated plume in the groundwater should continue to be monitored and evaluated on and off-site. The residential and industrial uses of groundwater should be identified and characterized with respect to hydrogeology factors and exposure pathways. A survey should be conducted to determine the exact number of residential wells, their depth, and distances from the site. Appropriate measures should be instituted to assure that the shallow aquifer will not be used as a water source.

  3. Workers should continue to adhere to the existing safety plan in accordance with applicable Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

  4. Air should be monitored if the soil is disturbed, to ensure there are no off-site releases of volatile chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds and contaminated dust. The incineration activites should be monitored until remediation is completed.

  5. There should be additional testing to determine the extent of site related contamination of soils in nearby residential areas.

  6. There should be public education regarding the fact that finfish sampled in the area are contaminated with HCB and HCBD and that water and sediment contact should be avoided.

  7. Additional finfish and crawfish sampling should be conducted to monitor levels of HCB, HCBD and other contaminants present at Devil's Swamp and Bayou Baton Rouge.

Health Activities Recommendation Panel

In accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, the data and information developed in the Petro-Processors of Louisiana Inc. Public Health Assessment have been evaluated by the Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) for appropriate follow up health activities. The HARP concluded that:

  1. A follow up public meeting is to be held by LOPH to explain to the community the results of this Public Health Assessment.

  2. A health professional education program is proposed to advise public health professionals and the local medical community of the nature and possible consequences of exposure to contaminants at the PPI site.

  3. A community health education program is to be conducted by LOPH in coordination with EPA to advise the local community about the contamination of Devil's Swamp, Bayou Baton Rouge, and the nature and possible consequences of exposure to contaminants at the PPI site.

  4. A follow up report on the residential well survey will be conducted by LOPH.

Public Health Action

The following describe the actions to be taken by ATSDR and/or SEE at the Petro-Processors site and surrounding areas. The purpose is to ensure that this public health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included is a commitment on the part of ATSDR/SEE to follow up on these actions to ensure that they are implemented. The public health actions to be implemented by ATSDR/SEE are as follows:

Actions Planned

  1. SEE, in cooperation with ATSDR, will conduct a health education program to advise the community of the possible consequences of exposure to contaminants at the Petro-Processor site. Action which can lessen exposure will be stressed.

  2. SEE and ATSDR have a continuing role to play as an advisor and source of information for the community surrounding the PPI site. In this capacity SEE/ATSDR will continue its dialogue with the community and continue working to provide needed health information and other site information and to seek feedback from residents about their concerns and informational needs. SEE will conduct a public meeting to explain the results of the public health assessment.

  3. ATSDR/SEE will cooperate with EPA and LDEQ, as necessary, to implement other site characterization actions.

Actions Taken

  1. In 1993, SEE did a follow up exposure assessment of sediment and surface water data from Devil's Swamp and Bayou Baton Rouge. Sampling analysis indicated contamination at levels that pose risks to public health. The public is advised not to swim or participate in other primary water contact sports in the area of concern.

  2. In 1993, SEE evaluated recent sampling data of fish and crawfish from Devil's Swamp and Bayou Baton Rouge. Fish samples showed elevated levels of HCB and HCBD. SEE and LDEQ advises that consumption of all fish species from that area to be limited to two meals per month.

  3. 1994-1995. An environmental health education program was developed to advise the public health professionals and the local medical community of the nature and possible consequences of exposure to contaminants at the PPI site. Ground Rounds were conducted to inform local physicians of potential health effects. In addition, chemical-specific health effects information was mailed to local health professionals. The value of obtaining a complete and accurate exposure history was stressed as part of this program. In addition, information that was provided on the contaminants of concern included, but was not limited to, the physical nature of the contaminants, potential health effects, symptoms of exposure and how to test for and treat exposures, if known. This activity was conducted by the SEE with the assistance of ATSDR Division of Health Education.

  4. Site Visit of Petro-Processors of Louisiana Inc. 6/15/1994.

  5. The Public Health Assessment is updated with revisions and comments, following the end of the Public Comment Period, May 18, 1995.

  6. A request to NPC and DEQ to receive current data on air emissions from the incineration process at the Brooklawn site, June 24,1995.

  7. Evaluation of additional crawfish samples collected by NPC at Devil's Swamp.


Lina Balluz, M.P.H., SC.D.
Louisiana Office of Public Health
Environmental Epidemiology Section.

Lynn Henkel Guillot, M.P.H.
Louisiana Office of Public Health
Environmental Epidemiology Section.

Adele M. Childress, Ph.D., M.S.P.H.
Louisiana Office of Public Health
Environmental Epidemiology Section

Regional Representative

George Pettigrew,
Regional Representative
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

ATSDR Technical Project Officer

William J. Greim, M.S., M.P.H.
Environmental Health Scientist
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Superfund Site Assessment Branch.


The Petro-Processors of Louisiana, Inc. Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Louisiana Office of Public Health 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 public health assessment was begun.

William Greim, M.S., M.P.H
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)

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

Richard Gillig for
Robert C. Williams, P.E., DEE
Director, DHAC, ATSDR


  1. Ecology and Environment, Inc., On-site Subsurface Investigation, Petro-Processor of Louisiana, Inc., (PPI), Scotlandville, Louisiana, April 1982.

  2. TERA Corp., Surface Characterization, PPI., January 1983.

  3. Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), Sediment Sampling in Bayou Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1985.

  4. Jacobs Environmental, Air Monitoring Data Reports, November and December 1988.

  5. Jacobs Environmental, Air Monitoring Data Reports, June 6, 1988, through July 17, 1988.

  6. Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Analysis of Edible Fish Tissue Taken form Devil's Swamp Lake, Louisiana, 1986.

  7. College of Engineering, LSU, Evaluation of Current Remedy and Research into Advanced Technologies for Remediation of the PPI Site, May 2, 1990.

  8. NPC Services Inc., Remedial Design and Construction Plan, December, 1989.

  9. NPC Services Inc., Supplemental Remedial Action Plan Report, Vol. I. December 1988.

  10. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., Background Air Monitoring Report, January, 1990.

  11. PRC Environmental Management, Inc., Air Quality Sampling Report for PPI Site, October 1990.

  12. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., Alternatives Evaluation Report for the PPI Site. September 1989.

  13. NPC Services Inc., Remedial Planning Activities for PPI. Vol III, September 1985.

  14. NPC Services Inc., Air Monitoring Data Reports for the PPI Site 1998-1990.

  15. NPC Services Inc., GroundWater Monitoring Data, June 1989.

  16. NPC Services Inc., GroundWater Monitoring Data, January 1990.

  17. NPC Services Inc., GroundWater Monitoring Data, September 1990.

  18. EPA, Expanded Site Investigation of Devil's Swamp, East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, September 1993.

  19. EPA, Expanded Site Investigation of Bayou Baton Rouge, Scotlandville, Louisiana, 1993.

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