PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
BIG RIVER MINE TAILINGS DESLOGE
(a/k/a ST. JOE MINERALS)
DESLOGE, ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY, MISSOURI
The data tables and text include the following acronyms and abbreviations. This table isprovided as an easy reference to their meaning:
|ATSDR||=||Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry|
|CREG||=||Cancer Risk Evaluation Guide: 1x10-6 excess cancer risk (ATSDR)|
|DOH||=||Missouri Department of Health|
|EMEG||=||Environmental Media Evaluation Guide (ATSDR)|
|EPA||=||Environmental Protection Agency|
|HARP||=||Health Activities Recommendation Panel (ATSDR)|
|LTHA||=||Drinking Water Lifetime Health Advisory (EPA)|
|MCL||=||Maximum Contaminant Level (EPA)|
|MCLG||=||Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (EPA)|
|MDESE||=||Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education|
|MDOC||=||Missouri Department of Conservation|
|MDNR||=||Missouri Department of Natural Resources|
|mean||=||average of all samples|
|MSCDC||=||Missouri State Census Data Center|
|PHAP||=||public health action plan|
|PMCL||=||Proposed Maximum Contaminant Level (EPA)|
|ppb||=||parts per billion|
|ppm||=||parts per million|
|PRP||=||Potentially Responsible Party|
|region||=||includes the area of major tailings piles|
|RfD||=||Reference Dose (EPA)|
|RfD-C||=||Media Concentration calculated from the RfD (ATSDR)|
|RMEG||=||Reference Dose Media Evaluation Guide|
|site||=||Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals site|
|TRI||=||Toxic Release Inventory (EPA)|
|USGS||=||United States Geological Survey|
|µg/dL||=||micro grams per deciliter|
|µg/kg||=||micro grams per kilogram|
|µg/L||=||micro grams per liter|
|µg/m3||=||micro grams per cubic meter|
An Important Note to Readers: This document is the result of only one of the many publichealth assessment activities that are being conducted at the Big River/St. Joe Minerals,Desloge, site. This document was initiated in 1992/1993 and was not submitted for publiccomment until March 1994. The release of the final document was further delayed. Manyactivities have occurred at the site and in the surrounding communities since the initiationof this document. For that reason, information on those activities will be provided infuture documents, one of which will be initiated in late 1996.
The Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals Site was formerly a lead mining and millingoperation located in the Old Lead Belt of Missouri. It operated from 1929 to 1958. Millingoperations at what is now known as the Desloge site included the crushing of limestone and leadore, removal of the ore, and disposal of the sand or smaller-sized particles in a large pile within ahorseshoe bend of the Big River. The crushed limestone, called tailings, was deposited to amaximum depth of 100 feet. The tailings have been found to contain low levels of metalcontamination including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and zinc. Tailings have been and are beingeroded from the site by wind and water into the Big River and surrounding area. A majorcollapse of a portion of the pile occurred in mid-1977, sending approximately 50,000 cubic yards into the Big River. Further, there are other large tailings piles located in nearby residential areas with similar wind and water erosion problems.
Sampling has found elevated metal contamination in the Big River's sediment, surface water, andbiota, including fish. Metal contamination has also been found in residential yards, in household vacuum cleaner dust, and intermittently in ambient air.
Considering the wide-spread contamination and long-term exposure, the site is considered apublic health hazard. Various completed exposure pathways exist. Exposure to children is ofmost concern. It is not known if the long-term, low-level exposure to lead is causing any publichealth problems. Community concern about site-related lead exposure was initially low, thoughsome local residents have been concerned about the health impact and annoyance of the dustblowing from the tailings piles on dry, windy days. Community concern about exposure hasincreased and is being addressed through work with a Citizens Advisory Group and through othercommunity involvement activities.
Stabilization of the site's tailings piles was recommended to prevent further erosion. Theproblem of eroding tailings is regional, so stabilizing the other piles is recommended as well. Some stabilization work is complete at the Leadwood site and has begun at the Big River site. Apermanent solution to these problems is recommended. A health study was also recommended todetermine what health effects that long-term, low-level exposure to metal contaminated miningwaste has had on the public. That study is underway.
The data and information developed in the Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals PreliminaryPublic Health Assessment have been evaluated for appropriate follow-up health actions. TheAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) Health ActivitiesRecommendation Panel (HARP) was in agreement with the findings of the health assessor. People are being exposed to contaminants from the site at levels that can cause illness. Exposureto contaminants is caused from past regional mining practices and not confined only to sitecontaminants. An education program is needed (and is currently planned) to inform the localcommunity and health professionals about how exposures can be reduced, as well as about healtheffects that might result from exposure. The health outcome data evaluation indicates there is anincreased lung cancer rate among people living in the region near the mine tailings. A healthconsultation would help identify the exposed population. Once the exposed population isidentified, a cluster investigation is indicated to determine if the increased cancer rate isassociated with exposure to contaminants from the site and others like it, or if the excess ofcancers is a result of other factors, such as smoking, or a combination of several factors. ATSDRwill reevaluate this site for additional follow-up public health actions if new data becomeavailable which indicate a need to do so.
Recommendations are made in this public health assessment that, if implemented, would preventor diminish exposures at the site. A plan to conduct these actions has been developed. According to the plan, the Missouri Department of Health (DOH) and ATSDR will consider thefeasibility and resources available to implement the public health actions identified by HARP;DOH and ATSDR will coordinate with the appropriate environmental agencies to develop plansto implement other recommendations contained in the preliminary public health assessment. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data, or the results of implementingproposed actions and plans, may result in the need for additional actions at the site.
An Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis has been completed on the site and stabilization effortson the tailings have begun. Negotiation of a Remedial Investigation of the site was scheduled forspring 1996. Information on that will be included in update documents on site activities. Ahuman exposure study is in process to determine the effect the environment, site, and tailings in the area has had on the blood lead levels of children in the area.
The Missouri Department of Health (DOH), in cooperation with the Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), will evaluate the public health significance of theBig River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals site. More specifically, DOH/ATSDR will determinewhether health effects are possible, and will recommend actions to reduce or prevent possiblehealth effects. ATSDR, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services, and is authorized by the ComprehensiveEnvironmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (commonly known asCERCLA) to conduct public health assessments at National Priorities List (NPL) hazardouswaste sites. DOH, under a cooperative agreement with ATSDR, is responsible for conductingthe public health assessment. This public health assessment is the first involvement that ATSDRhas had with the Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals site. The Big River Mine Tailings/St.Joe Minerals Site was proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for placementon the NPL in February 1992, and its listing was finalized in October 1992.
The Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals Site (considered "the site" in the text) isapproximately one-half mile northwest of the city of Desloge, St. Francois County, Missouri. Itconsists of approximately 600 acres of mine tailings that range in depth from zero to more than100 feet deep, with an average depth of approximately 50 feet. The mine tailings are the result of30 years (1929 to 1958) of dumping lead mining waste from a mine/mill operation once locatedon what is now the southern edge of the site. The majority of the site is situated within ahorseshoe-shaped bend of the Big River that flows around it on the east, north, and west sides. Residential areas and the city of Desloge are adjacent to the site on the south and southeast (See Figure 1).
The site is located in an area of southeast Missouri known as the Old Lead Belt. The area isapproximately 70 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri. Mined for more than 100 years, the areawas the nation's largest producer of lead from 1907 to 1953. Lead was first discovered around1700 in southeastern Missouri. Before the mid-1860s, lead mining consisted of individual,shallow workings scattered throughout the area. In 1869, diamond-bit core exploratory drillingrevealed lead deposits underlying Bonne Terre, Desloge, Flat River, Leadwood, and Elvins. Mines were established at these sites and continued in the area until the last mine closed inOctober 1972. Prominent reminders of the area's long mining history remain today with sixmajor tailings piles or ponds, several smaller tailings areas, and numerous closed mines scatteredthroughout the 110-square-mile Old Lead Belt area (USGS 1988). A total of approximately 250million tons of tailings were produced in the Old Lead Belt, with the majority stored in the sixmajor tailings piles (considered the "region" in the text). During the productive life of the OldLead Belt, two different methods were used to separate minerals from the limestone. The earlymethod used density separation by jigging to separate the ore. Later, a froth flotation method thatseparated the ore by use of chemical collectors was used. The chemical method resulted in afiner particulate waste rock material. After processing, the tailings were transported to a disposallocation by a slurry pipeline in about a 50 percent water mixture. The material was dumpeddirectly on the land surface or used to fill valleys. The water drained away, leaving the tailings. Waste rock from the early method is called chat, while waste rock from the later method isreferred to as tailings (Wixson et al. 1983). Because the material varies from powder to largesand-sized particles, this health assessment will refer to all the material as tailings.
To the south of the site is the city of Desloge. Desloge is one of several small towns separatedonly by political boundaries. Some of these political boundaries no longer exist; the cities of FlatRiver, Rivermines, Elvins, and Ester joined together on January 1, 1994, to become Park Hills. Three additional tailings piles, the National, Federal, and Elvins piles are located in the vicinityof these small towns. A fifth tailings pile, the Bonne Terre pile, is approximately two miles northof the site next to the city of Bonne Terre. Approximately two miles to the west is the sixthtailings pile, the Leadwood pile, located next to the city of Leadwood. See Figure 2 for thelocation of the cities in relation to the various tailings piles.
The Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals site is listed on the NPL and is the focus of thishealth assessment. The site is different from the other piles in that the Big River flows around iton three sides, it is elevated above the river, and it is being undercut by the river, which allowstailings to directly enter the river. Wind and water erosion are also moving the tailings into theriver. None of the other tailings piles are situated directly on the Big River, although the majority of the drainage of the piles enters the Big River by various tributaries.
St. Joe Minerals Corporation (formerly St. Joe Lead Co.) owned the 600-acre site until 1972when it donated 502 acres of the site to St. Francois County. After acquiring the land, St.Francois County leased the property to the St. Francois County Environmental Corporation(SFCEC). In 1973, the non-profit SFCEC organization established a sanitary landfill onapproximately 60 acres in the southwest section of the site. The landfill, regulated by theMissouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), accepts typical residential refuse anddebris. Mine tailings are used for daily cover. When a section is full, soil cover is added andthen seeded with grass. Before the present engineering firm took over management of thelandfill in about 1985, MDNR records reveal that the landfill operation had been cited numeroustimes for violations. Approximately 100 acres in the southeast corner of the site is still owned bySt. Joe Minerals, who leases it to a company that uses the tailings to make asphalt, and to sell as agricultural lime (EPA 1991).
In late spring 1977 the area received heavy rainfall that caused a large portion of the tailings tobecome supersaturated and collapse into the Big River. An estimated 50,000 cubic yards oftailings washed into the river at that time (EPA 1991). Earlier in January 1977, MDNR hadrequested that EPA investigate the environmental damage that was being done to the Big Riverfrom the mine tailings. The investigation was conducted by the EPA Surveillance and Analysisteam with sampling done in June and August 1977. No mention was made in the report of themajor collapse of tailings that had occurred during the time period from request to sampling(EPA 1978a & b). The general finding of the report, based on aquatic population density anddiversity, was that the Big River had been degraded. The river's degradation was mainly causedby physical changes in the benthic zone (bottom zone where organisms attach or rest on thebottom or live in the sediments) of the river instead of chemical toxicity of the river water (EPA 1991).
In 1980, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDOC) submitted evidence to DOH thatfish (especially the sucker family) downstream of the site contained elevated levels of lead. Theaverages ranged from 0.4 to 0.7 ppm for edible fillets. A few individual fish exceeded 1.0 ppm,with a maximum of 1.28 ppm lead. Because of concern for increased human exposure to leadfrom the contaminated fish, MDOC and DOH issued a news release discouraging theconsumption of suckers from the affected area of the river. This area was considered to be 50miles long, from Leadwood downstream to Mammoth Access (MDOC 1980). DOH nowupdates this fish advisory annually and recommends that carp, redhorse, and suckers should notbe eaten if taken from the Big River downstream from Desloge to where it enters the MeramecRiver (DOH 1993). Local fishermen generally know about by the warning.
The St. Joe Minerals Corporation began efforts in late 1981 to stabilize the pile, under acooperative agreement with the State of Missouri. Since the major collapse of tailings in 1977, smaller gaps have appeared in different locations on the perimeter of the site.
In 1982, a report was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on their study of the impactthe tailings had made on the Big River. The report found elevated residues of lead, cadmium,and zinc in every biological form examined, including algae, rooted plants, crayfish, mussels, andfish (Schmitt and Finger 1982). For a summary of the 1982 report see Table 5 for water quality,Table 6 for sediment, and Table 9 for aquatic biota. In 1983, a report by the University ofMissouri - Rolla was released that discussed the possible use of the mine tailings for agriculturallime. Measurements for lead, cadmium, and zinc were listed for five of the tailings piles in the area. A summary of those findings can be found in Table 3.
To provide short- and long-term stabilization and adequate site supervision, the Desloge TailingsTask Force was formed in 1985. The Task Force was organized by St. Joe Minerals and includedrepresentatives from St. Joe Minerals, the landfill authorities, and MDNR, as well as localofficials. Efforts to control erosion of tailings from the site have included placement of snowfences, grass seeding of some areas, and planting Black Locust trees. None have proved entirely successful.
After landfill authorities requested a permit from MDNR to expand its operations into another200 acres on the site, MDNR requested that monitoring wells be placed around the existinglandfill. Six monitoring wells were installed around the landfill to determine if area groundwater contained significant quantities of landfill leachate.
In 1985/1986, DOH conducted a study of the adjoining residential community to determine thepossible cause of an elevated lung cancer death rate. The investigation included possibleenvironmental factors that could contribute to the excessive death rate. Samples were collectedand analyzed for various environmental parameters, including radiation in the tailings andgroundwater, radon in local homes, and metals in indoor dust (samples taken from home vacuumcleaners).
In 1988, EPA directed Ecology and Environment, Inc., Field Investigation Team (E&E/FIT) todo a preliminary assessment of the Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals site. A sitereconnaissance was conducted and site conditions were documented with photos. Ten samples,including a duplicate, were taken of tailings material on site. The report also mentioned that 35mile-per-hour westerly winds were observed transporting tailings material off site (EPA 1988). In 1990, EPA again enlisted E&E/FIT to conduct a listing site inspection (LSI) of the site. Thisinvestigation was the most complete assessment of the site to date and included sampling of thetailings and soil, sediment and surface water, groundwater, and air. Soil was sampled on and offsite, while sediment and surface water were sampled at points on the Big River and tributariesthat drained different tailings piles. Air samples were taken for a six-day, 12-hour-per-day periodon and off the site. All media measured had proper backgrounds for comparison to determine theeffect the site was having on the local environment. Results of the investigation were released in a Final Report on October 30, 1991 (EPA 1991).
As a follow-up to the 1990 sampling, an additional study was conducted to determine if the sitewas having an effect on groundwater in the area. Forty-two private wells within a one-mileradius, and two on-site monitoring wells were sampled, mostly for metals. Of the original sixon-site monitoring wells installed, three wells were dry and one had been unintentionallydestroyed during erosion control activities (EPA 1991). To further understand the extent ofcontamination in the area, more samples were taken from the tailings piles, off-site soils, privatedrinking water wells, and a spring near the site. This included 405 soil samples that werescreened for lead, 56 soil samples submitted to the EPA laboratory for confirmation analyses, and35 water samples that included 12 private water wells with samples taken at the indoor tap andoutside near the source. Those data are discussed in the Environmental Contamination andOther Hazards section of this document. By using this method of sampling, E&E sought todetermine if any contamination encountered came from the groundwater or the householdplumbing. The remainder of the water samples consisted of duplicates and a field blank forquality assurance, the landfill drinking water well, and the spring near the site (E&E 1993).
Tailings continued to be used throughout the area as fill material, as cover for dirt roads, to improve traction on local roads in winter, and by local residents for other purposes, although an EPA fact sheet discouraged these uses.
Action Implemented During Health Assessment Process
Action implemented during the health assessment process included an additional investigation byEPA of off-site surface soils near and influenced by the site. Soil samples were taken from anumber of private yards south of the site at zero to one-inch depths, and were analyzed for lead,cadmium, zinc, and arsenic. This investigation's results are listed in the Off-Site Contamination section of this public health assessment.
Other sampling was conducted at the Federal tailings pile (St. Joe State Park) and included airmonitoring conducted by MDNR during and after the St. Joe Grand Prix. The Grand Prix is amajor racing event involving a large number of off-road vehicle (ORV) riders who gather at anduse the Federal tailings pile for competition events and recreational riding. St. Joe State Parkencompasses the Federal pile. Information on air sampling during the event became availablewhen a risk assessment was completed by DOH on health risks for a recreational ORV rider, aseasonal worker, and an on-site resident. To determine the extent of exposure to MDNR parkemployees and nearby residents, blood samples were taken by the St. Francois County HealthDepartment. DOH's laboratory analyzed the blood of 16 people for lead that may have hadvarying amounts of exposure to the Federal Tailings pile. Results of the blood sampling andother information are included in this document.
The landfill closed in 1994/1995 at the direction of MDNR. This was confirmed by an MDNRsurveillance memorandum dated October 18, 1993, which stated that the landfill had ceasedaccepting waste and was in the early stages of constructing a transfer station to divert waste toanother landfill. Areas where some former landfill operations were conducted have beenregraded, covered, and revegetated (EPA comments, 1996).
DOH continues to release its annual fish advisory stating that sunfish, carp, redhorse and othersucker-type fish taken from the Big River in St. Francois and Jefferson Counties should not beeaten. The fish have been found to contain lead at levels that may be of health concern ifconsumed by people (DOH 1995).
The site changed ownership in the spring of 1994 from St. Joe Minerals to the Doe RunCompany, which now has the responsibility of St. Joe Minerals interest in the Old Lead Belt.
EPA completed a Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) for the Big River MineTailings Site in January 1994, released it for public comment from January to March 1994, andthe document was signed on March 27, 1994. Short-term stabilization efforts took place in thespring of 1995 to prevent damage to critical areas from expected flood waters. Long-termstabilization efforts covered in the EE/CA are underway. Negotiations for a RemedialInvestigation (RI) of the site were scheduled to start in 1996.
An exposure study was initiated and is in progress in the area. ATSDR is funding this exposurestudy to determine the blood lead levels in children from 6 months to six years old at Leadwood,Bonne Terre, and Park Hills. Blood lead levels in these children will be compared to childrenwithin the same strata living in an area where no exposure to past mining activities was expected. As part of the study, environmental samples (soil, indoor dust, water, and paint) are also beingtaken in the study and comparison area. In addition, a health education program is being plannedto help people learn how to limit and prevent further exposures. Health care providers in the areahave been supplied with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ontreating patients with high lead exposure and with Case Studies developed by ATSDR to helpthem gather information from their patients and identify lead exposure cases.
On March 11, 1994, MDNR released a report on the results of a site investigation (SI) on theFederal Tailings pile. The purpose of the SI was to collect information sufficient to assess thethreat posed to human health and the environment and to determine the need for additionalinvestigation under the NPL Superfund law or other action.
Arthur Busch and Ana Maria Murgueytio, representatives of the DOH cooperative agreementprogram with ATSDR, visited the Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals Site and thesurrounding areas on April 29-30, and May 1, 1992. On the first day, MDNR and DOHrepresentatives investigated the National and Leadwood tailings piles. The National tailings pileis located in a residential/industrial area. This particular pile is high and steep, and littlerecreational activity was evident. A source of concern is that the base of the pile abuts backyards of homes where children live.
The Leadwood pile is more remotely located and was used heavily by recreational vehicles. At the time of the visit, a few off-road vehicles were present and stirred up a large dust plume as they drove on the hills of the tailings pile. Access was unrestricted at both piles.
The second day of the site visit was spent visiting the Big River Mine Tailings/St Joe Mineralssite with the ATSDR Regional Representative and representatives from EPA, MDNR, U.S.Geological Survey (USGS), MDOC, St. Joe Minerals, the landfill operators and their engineeringconsultant. A landfill representative gave a tour of the site and pointed out all the areas that hadbeen and continue to be a problem. There were areas where the tailings were being moved bywind and making direct contact with the river. Measures to eliminate this wind erosion werehaving little effect, as the sand-sized tailings were moving to cover the erosion-control fencingand trees. Areas where previous gullies had been were pointed out seemed to be causing noproblem at the time of the visit. Characteristics of the tailings pile, including sharp drop-offs and bluffs over the river, were noted and recorded on film.
Vegetation that had been planted in the tailings was either dead, stressed, or showed little growth. There were only a few areas where vegetation seemed to thrive and prevent erosion. A portion ofthe river was observed, and tailings were common in the bottom material and as sand bars. Alocking gate limited outside access at the entrance to the landfill by the landfill office. However,access can be gained easily from other locations around the site. With the daily landfill activity,recreational use of the site is limited during the week, but may occur when the landfill is closed. Recreational activity may increase with the final closing of the landfill.
We also saw a mining museum that is being created out of the old Federal mine and millingoffices. After the site tour, the USGS representative, who is very familiar with the area, showedus public access points on the Big River. The group noticed that a number of fishermen andvisitors were present at the upstream accesses. Fishing was reported to be poor. No fish wereseen being caught or on stringers. Tailings in the streambed were very prevalent downstream ofthe site, but could also be found at locations upstream of the site. Tailings found upstream of the site could possibly be coming from the Leadwood tailings pile.
On the third day, the group visited with the St. Francois County Health Department administratorand the head nurse. They were asked about the site and the other tailings piles. One commentwas that on windy days, dust from the tailings piles was a real nuisance. The administratorreported that she heard little concern about the site as a cause of health problems.
Numerous subsequent trips have been made by the health assessment team to monitor activitiesand conditions at the site as well as on-going DOH interaction with the St. Francois CountyHealth Department. Additionally, DOH and ATSDR participate in Citizen Advisory Groupmeetings and Mineral Area College (MAC) Environmental Information Roundtable meetings tokeep informed and work with other agencies and community members to identify and resolveexposure issues.
Located southeast of the site is the city of Desloge, which has a population of 4,150 according to1990 census data (MSCDC 1991a). Desloge is one of several small towns separated only bypolitical boundaries. Some of these political boundaries no longer exist because the cities of FlatRiver, Rivermines, Elvins, and Ester joined together on January 1, 1994, to become Park Hills. The combined population of cities southeast of the site and within three miles is 12,095. Approximately two miles north of the site is the city of Bonne Terre, with a population of 3,871. Approximately two miles west of the site is the city of Leadwood, with a population of 1,247. Leadwood and Bonne Terre have tailings piles adjoining them, while the group of cities has atailings pile next to them or within a mile. The total population within approximately one mile of a tailings pile is 17,213. See Figure 2 for a diagram of tailings pile locations in relation to the cities.
The racial makeup of Desloge is 99.5 percent white. Seventeen percent of it's population was listed as being below the poverty level from 1989 data. The other cities mentioned have a similar socio-economic make-up (MSCDC 1991a).
Nine and a half percent of Desloge's population is six years of age or younger (MSCDC 1991a). The area is divided into three school districts; the North St. Francois County R-I School Districthas four schools with a Desloge address. They include a pre-school, two elementary schools, anda high school. Enrollment for the two elementary schools and the high school is 1,339. Thenumber of children enrolled at the preschool was not available. The total number of students inthe district is 2,786. Other school districts in the area are the Central R-III District of Flat River,with an enrollment of 1,951, and the West St. Francois R-IV of Leadwood, having an enrollmentof 902 students. The total number of students in the three school districts is 5,639 (MDESE1991-92).
South of the site, within one mile, is a day care center with approximately 30 to 40 children. Other day care centers and retirement homes are believed to be within a mile south and southeast of the site.
Until the landfill closed in 1994/1995, it employed four full-time employees. The asphaltcontractor, located on the east end of the site, employed three full-time employees, with thepossibility of two additional summer employees.
The residential area of Desloge lies south and east of the site. Around the perimeter of the site inthe other directions is the Big River. Across the river the land is pasture for livestock, cropland,or forest. North and west of the site, rural homes are located along the major roads, but largenumbers of residences are not encountered until reaching the cities of Bonne Terre andLeadwood, approximately two miles from the site.
Natural Resource Use
Since the site is surrounded on three sides by the Big River, most of the natural resource userelates to the river. Access to the river is available above and below the site. Use of riveraccesses above the site are for fishing and swimming. Heavy use of downstream accesses doesnot occur until approximately 37 miles downstream at Washington State Park. Activities on theriver at this point include swimming, fishing, camping, and canoeing. No hunting occurs on thetailings piles, but may occur in the surrounding area. Use of the river becomes heavier fartherdownstream, with the St. Francois State Park offering similar recreational activities. An increasein canoeing starts at about this point because the river becomes more navigable. Off-roadvehicles are driven for recreation over many of the tailings piles in the area.
Gigging of sucker-type fish is common on the Big River. According to a 1979-1980 MDOCsurvey of the use of facilities (i.e., state parks, accesses), giggers took more sucker species andcarp (4.95 fish taken per hour) on the Big River than on the other two rivers surveyed. The 1980advisory not to eat sucker-type fish was in full effect at the time of the survey (MDOC 1988).
Groundwater use in the area is by the local public water district and private well owners. TheFlat River Water District supplies the cities of Flat River, Elvins, Desloge, Leadington, Ester, andRivermines. The water district obtains it's water from two sources including a well at Desloge,and a flooded mine shaft in the town of Rivermines. (Active mining ceased in the area with theclosing of the Federal mine in 1972.) The water district serves approximately 12,095 people. Anunknown number of private wells exist outside the boundaries of the Flat River Water District. In a recent sampling by EPA, 42 private wells were found within one mile of the site (EPA1991).
The DOH's State Center for Health Statistics analyzes and provides consultations onhealth-related information collected from several sources (DOH 1992). The Center's Bureau ofHealth Data Analysis has vital statistical information (birth and death records), hospital dischargedata, and the Multi-Source Birth Defect Registry. The Multi-Source Birth Defect Registryconsists of birth outcome data from the following sources: birth, death, hospital discharge,Crippled Children's Services, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit records.
Cancer mortality rates by age, sex, and cancer site are calculated to determine whether there is asignificant difference between the area of concern and the rest of the state. Birth data includefetal deaths, low birth weight, and frequency of malformations. Data on the area of concern are then compared to the state rate.
State health statistics are available for the zip code 63601, which includes the cities of Desloge,Flat River, Elvins, Ester, Leadington, and Rivermines. Normally, this would represent a muchlarger population than would actually be affected by the site. In this case, it provides data on theareas exposed either from the site, one of the other piles, or from locations where tailingsmaterial has been used for other purposes. State health statistics are also available for the zip codes of Bonne Terre (63628) and Leadwood (63653).
State health statistics for cancer incidence were also searched. These data are tabulations ofcancer cases reported to the Missouri Cancer Registry by hospitals in the state. Reported casesare compared to the number of expected cases based on national data from the Surveillance,Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program. The SEER program is a National Cancer Institute program that monitors cancer incidence, survival, and mortality inseveral areas of the country.
Past investigations include a 1985-86 case-control study of lung cancer deaths, and an associatedenvironmental factor study. The studies were conducted of the Flat River area and adjoiningcommunities after a citizen raised concern about an apparent excess of cancer deaths in the area.
Because of concerns about possible long-term exposure of St. Joe State Park employees to theFederal Tailings pile, MDNR requested that blood-lead levels be measured for employees and/oron-site residents. Because the tailings pile makes up a major portion of the park and is used as arecreational area for off-road vehicles, park employees could be exposed to lead in air and soilduring these activities and while performing their normal work duties. Blood-lead samples weretaken and analyzed for 16 people, some of whom may be exposed at the park or in thesurrounding area. Evaluation of all the data introduced in this section is discussed later in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation section.
To determine if the community had any concerns about health effects related to the site, we askedthe St. Francois County Health Department administrator and the head nurse if they had receivedany concerns from the community. At that time (1993), they said there was very little publicconcern about the site, that most residents had grown up in the area, and in many cases the pilesrepresent a way of life and income. The administrator and nurse noted that local residents see nohealth threat from the piles. Some residents even consider the piles to be a special trademark orpoint of interest. However, according to the administrator and personnel contacted at DeslogeCity Hall, the piles have been a source of aggravating dust that can be quite thick at times. Nomarked concern or interest was raised when EPA's investigations and research in the area beganin 1990/1991.
In a follow-up telephone conversation, also in 1993, the county health department administratornoted that the department still had not received any comments about health concerns. Since thelast meeting with the county health department, there has been more activity at the site, includingan EPA investigation and sampling of residential yard soil. Apparently, this increased activityhas not raised concern in the community. In a telephone conversation with the mayor ofDesloge, he also stated that he had not heard of any site-related concerns.
After release of the Preliminary Public Health Assessment for Public Comment, a publicavailability session was held by DOH on March 8, 1994, to answer questions and receivecomments from the public. Comments gathered during the public availability session and writtencomments received are included and replies given in Appendix C.
Community interest has increased over time. A Citizens Advisory Group, initiated by EPA,holds meetings monthly. Much of DOH and ATSDR's community health education and outreachwork is shared and discussed with this group. ATSDR and DOH also participate monthly in theMAC Environmental Information Roundtable meetings where further discussions on the miningwastes are conducted.