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ATSDR announces release of public health assessment for Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant Site and start of public comment period

Webster County, Doyline, Louisiana

Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, today announced the release of its public health assessment for the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant Site (LAAP) in Doyline, La. The public comment period for the document will end February 28, 2003.

After evaluating environmental monitoring data and key potential exposure situations, ATSDR determined that potential exposures associated with groundwater, surface soil, surface water/sediment, and biota at LAAP do not pose past, current or future public health hazards:

  1. Contamination in groundwater poses no public health hazard. The shallow groundwater beneath certain areas of LAAP has become contaminated with explosive compounds. No exposure to groundwater contaminants has occurred or is expected to occur in the future because the contaminated shallow groundwater underlying LAAP has never been used as a source of drinking water for the plant, nor is it intended for public use in the future. LAAP has received its water from the deep, uncontaminated aquifer, which is routinely tested to ensure that it safely meets federal and state drinking water standards. Low levels of explosive compounds were detected one time in1989 in drinking water wells for Doyline and the community of Goodwill. Residents possibly exposed to the low levels of explosive compounds from ingesting drinking water are not expected to develop ill effects. Explosive contamination has not been reported during regular repeat testing (1989-1993, 1999 and 2001) of the affected wells. LAAP will continue to monitor groundwater movement from the site and off-site groundwater quality to identify and diminish the threat of potential health hazards. No information is available for private wells possibly located in areas where trace levels of contamination migrated beyond the site's southern boundary. Any exposure at trace levels is expected to be below levels of health concern.
  2. Contamination in surface soil poses no public health hazard. Certain areas of LAAP contain high levels of explosive compounds and chromium in surface soil. A patrolled perimeter fence and gated entrance largely prevent public access to these contaminated areas. Although workers or trespassers (such as nonauthorized hunters) might have come in contact with contaminants in surface soil, contact was likely infrequent and brief. Intermittent contact with surface soil contaminants, even at the highest levels reported, is not expected to pose a health concern. Access restrictions and land use controls will help to prevent potential future exposures to soil contaminants.
  3. Contamination in surface water and sediment of the local streams poses no public health hazard. Contaminants from LAAP's former operations migrate in groundwater toward and discharge into local streams, such as Boone Creek, Caney Creek and an unnamed ditch. Some contamination also might have reached the streams in surface water runoff. Public access to the streams is limited at best. Although there is no evidence of people wading or playing in or near the streams, any exposure is likely to be infrequent and of short duration. Such limited exposure with contamination in the waterways is not expected to pose a health concern. Contaminant levels are expected to further decrease by natural degradation processes and with distance from the former source areas.
  4. Consumption of locally caught fish and deer poses no public health hazard. Local residents fish along Bayou Dorcheat and Clarke Bayou, which border the LAAP property to the east and west. Fish from the bayous have not been tested for possible uptake of site-related contamination. Despite this data gap, bayou fish probably have not accumulated unhealthy levels of LAAP-related compounds because only low levels of surface water contaminants have entered the bayous and explosive compounds do not typically accumulate to high levels in fish. Seasonal deer hunting is permitted at LAAP. Information suggests that explosive compounds, such as those concentrated in areas of LAAP, do not typically accumulate to harmful levels in deer tissue or in other wildlife. Considering this information, ATSDR concludes that fish from Clarke Bayou or Bayou Dorcheat and venison from the LAAP should be safe foods to eat.

The public health assessment is available for public review and comment through February 28, 2003, at the following location:

Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant
Highway 80
Minden, La.
Attn: Doyle Williams

ATSDR welcomes comments from the public. Comments on the public health assessment must be made in writing. Mail comments to

Chief, Program Evaluation, Records and Information Services Branch
1600 Clifton Rd., NE (MS E-32)
Atlanta, GA 30333

Comments received during the public comment period will be logged in to ATSDR's administrative record for this health assessment.

Comments received, without the names of individuals who submitted them, and ATSDR's responses to the comments will appear in an appendix to the final public health assessment. Names of those who submit comments, however, will be subject to release for requests made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Community members seeking information on the procedures or the content of the public health assessment may contact Health Assessor Katherine Hanks or Health Communication Specialist Ruby Palmer, toll free, at 1-888-422-8737. Regional Representative Jennifer Lyke also may be contacted at 214-665-8362. When calling, please refer to the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant Site in Doyline, La.

Members of the news media may request an interview with ATSDR staff by calling John Florence or Elaine McEachern in the ATSDR Office of Policy and External Affairs at (404) 498-0070.

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