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Extramural Research

Final Report: Hazardous Substance Research Center/South and Southwest

EPA Grant Number: R829480
Center: HSRC (2001) - South and Southwest HSRC
Center Director: Reible, Danny D.
Title: Hazardous Substance Research Center/South and Southwest
Investigators: Reible, Danny D. , McCook, Leigh Fitzpatrick
Institution: Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge , Georgia Institute of Technology , University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2005 (Extended to September 30, 2006)
Project Amount: $382,000
RFA: Hazardous Substance Research Centers - HSRC (2001)
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation

Description:

Objective:

This is the final report for the Hazardous Substance Research Center/South and Southwest (S&SW) Collateral U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Award (R829480). It is presented as separate “projects” for clarification. The Collateral award started October 1, 2001 and ended September 30, 2006. This grant is associated with the Hazardous Substances Research Center/South and Southwest grant (R828773). Each of the projects included in this report was actually a separate amendment to the EPA award. Included in this report are the following amendments:

  • Amendment 1 – Initial Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities (TAB) Program funding from 2001 to 2002 for $150,000.
  • Amendment 2 – Year 2 for TAB Program funding from 2002 to 2003 for $150,000.
  • Amendment 4 – Technical Outreach Services for Communities (TOSC) Program Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Project for the New Chicago Community in Memphis, Tennessee. Funded from 2005 to 2006 for $30,000.
  • Amendment 6 – TOSC Hurricane Supplement funded from 2005–2006 for $20,000.
  • Amendments 3 and 5 were no-cost extension changes and are not mentioned in this final report as projects or products.
  • South and Southwest Center Collateral Final Report.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

2001–2002: TAB Program

The TAB Communities Program has completed another successful year in which new brownfields municipalities were added to the growing roster of technical assistance efforts underway. The Brownfields Revitalization Act signed into law in January 2002 by President Bush holds promise that a greater awareness of brownfields issues in addition to the significant increase in federal dollars available for the identification, assessment and cleanup of contaminated property will translate into additional opportunities for the TAB Program.

The TAB Program focused its efforts this year, as it has in the past, on reviewing technical documents related to brownfields assessment and cleanup, providing educational workshops and seminars to municipalities and communities, and assisting in redevelopment efforts where appropriate. Additionally, TAB has begun to expand its services by conducting research in the areas of redevelopment and the anticipated increase in population in central urban areas. As the reporting year drew to a close, personnel additions within the TAB programs at Louisiana State University (LSU) and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) promised to increase the capabilities and services of TAB. LSU is adding to its staff through the addition of an EPA Brownfields Pilot Program Manager, and Georgia Tech is adding an expert in groundwater contamination and assessment. These additions provide essential experience and expertise in areas not previously found in the Program.

Active TAB Sites

The South & Southwest Hazardous Substance Research Center’s TAB Program has approximately 10 active brownfields municipalities in EPA Regions 4 and 6. Activity summaries for the current sites are presented below.

Charleston, South Carolina. Active since May 2000.

TAB has entered into a Letter of Agreement with the City of Charleston to provide technical assistance to the city as they move forward under the terms of their EPA Brownfield Assessment Demonstration Pilot. TAB has reviewed a Field Sampling Plan for a brownfields site in Charleston that the city is interested in redeveloping and is providing assistance with efforts to redevelop a former landfill.

Jackson, Mississippi. Active since April 2000.

TAB has been actively assisting the City of Jackson since May 2000, having provided a review and evaluation of several Phase I Environmental Site Assessment reports conducted on property of interest to the city. The city was awarded an EPA Brownfield Assessment Demonstration Pilot in May 1998. In June 2000, TAB presented an overview of the Program to the Mayor’s Brownfield Redevelopment Task Force and toured several brownfields sites in the city. TAB also met with city officials, state environmental officials, and a representative from Entergy Corporation (a regional utility company) to discuss plans for redevelopment of a brownfields property under the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Brightfields” program. Brightfields focuses on redeveloping brownfields properties by assisting solar power-focused businesses with business development efforts. In October 2000, Jackson was designated as a Brownfield Showcase Community by EPA. TAB has been asked by the city to assist with the development of their Quality Assurance Management Program.

Memphis, Tennessee. Active since May 2000.

TAB has entered into a Letter of Agreement with the Douglass, Bungalow, and Crump Neighborhood Association to provide assistance to the Association’s efforts to identify and redevelop brownfields properties on the north side of Memphis. During a trip to Memphis in May 2000, TAB met with the Executive Director of the Association and visited several properties that the community is interested in seeing redeveloped. These sites included a former meatpacking plant and a drum recycling company. Following this visit, TAB prepared a short fact sheet on environmental problems associated with these sites. Currently, the Division of Housing and Development and the Tennessee Conservation and Environment Health Department have signed on to explore redevelopment options on some of the subject properties.

Augusta, Georgia. Active since January 2001.

TAB has entered into a Letter of Agreement with the Hyde Park/Aragon Park Improvement Committee, Inc., to assist Augusta with their brownfields redevelopment efforts. Augusta was awarded an EPA Brownfield Assessment Demonstration Pilot in June 1999 that targets a 10-acre former salvage yard in the Hyde Park section of the city. Originally, the site was used for community vegetable gardens, but for the past 30 years, the site has operated as a salvage yard. Community complaints led to an EPA investigation that found high levels of lead and arsenic on the site. The site lies among residences and is littered with gas containers, tires, drums, and scrap metal. TAB has attended several community meetings and has reviewed and commented on the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), the scope of work for the Phase II ESA, soil and temporary groundwater monitor sampling results, and proposed permanent groundwater monitoring well locations. TAB is also actively working with the City of Augusta under a Letter of Agreement to plan brownfields redevelopment workshops and create educational materials. During the summer of 2002, the South & Southwest TAB Program teamed with LaBarbara Wigfall of Kansas State University and the Midwest Hazardous Substance Research Center’s TAB Program to present a workshop to the community. In addition, TOSC personnel are working with the city and community leaders to develop quarterly public information seminars for the community at large.

Atlanta, Georgia. Active since August 2001.

Atlanta was awarded an EPA Brownfield Assessment Demonstration Pilot in 1997. Original plans called for the city to inventory brownfields within the Empowerment Zone and to develop financing tools to encourage industry involvement in Brownfields redevelopment. In October 2001, TAB conducted a “Brownfields 101” workshop aimed at educating both the community and business leaders in brownfields processes and potentials. Forty people attended the workshop, with representation from Neighborhood Planning Units, communities in the area, developers, and consultants. TAB personnel gave presentations on basic brownfields concepts and obstacles and opportunities in brownfields redevelopment. A workshop targeted toward businesses and developers is tentatively scheduled for early 2003.

Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Active since May 2001.

TAB is assisting the Metro Chamber of Commerce in its efforts to develop a brownfields guidebook for developers and others interested in pursuing the redevelopment of environmentally contaminated property. The guidebook will include information on the legal issues impacting redevelopment, the role insurance plays in financing and supporting redevelopment, technical issues, land-use planning, and example case studies. A second draft of the guidebook was completed in mid-March 2002.

Macon, Georgia. Active since September 2001.

TAB has met with the Brownfields Coordinator for Macon who is interested in land-use issues associated with brownfields redevelopment. TAB provided the city with an environmental site assessment guide put together by the S&SW Center. TAB made a presentation to the city during its monthly planning meeting in November 2001, outlining the Program and the services offered. TAB met with the Macon/Bibb County Planning Staff in December 2001 to determine how the Program can provide further assistance with the city’s brownfields pilot. TAB personnel helped develop the scope of work to complete a long-term redevelopment plan to be put out for bid by the city.

Altamaha River Partnership, Middle Georgia. November 2001.

The Altamaha River Partnership is a coalition of 11 counties bordering the Altamaha River, which cuts through the heart of Georgia from Macon to the Atlantic Ocean. This is a very poor section of Georgia, with many brownfields resulting from timber- and textile-dependent industries. TAB has been asked by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to develop a 4- to 5-hour seminar in conjunction with the Partnership on Sustainable Economic Development in the region.

Spartanburg, South Carolina. Active since January 2002.

TAB has been working with ReGenesis, Inc., in Spartanburg on a unique project with both TOSC and TAB issues. ReGenesis is seeking to develop an area of Spartanburg that was once industrialized yet now sits surrounded by low-income, residential areas. Within the industrial area, Rhodia, Inc.’s Spartanburg facility produces home, personal care, and industrial specialty chemicals. The community is concerned with a variety of environmental issues, including the impacts of the Rhodia site on the potential for redevelopment of the area. TAB has met with the community, and has reviewed and commented on a variety of documents: groundwater sampling data, air surveys, air permits, storm water discharge permits, and ambient air sampling plans. This is a high-profile project, with involvement and support for the redevelopment efforts coming from the U.S. Senate as well as local citizens.

Houston, Texas. Active since April 1999.

TAB presented a series of workshops in 1999 to the City of Houston’s Planning and Development Department staff, the Western Fifth Ward Community Services, and surrounding communities. The workshop addressed issues associated with conducting environmental site assessments. This 2 ½-day series concluded with a mock site assessment of the Western Fifth Ward’s offices and property, located adjacent to a busy rail yard. TAB has continued to play a role in the city’s brownfields redevelopment efforts, having been invited to present a talk on “Reuse Planning and Community Involvement” at the Mayor’s Third Annual Brownfields Redevelopment Workshop in April 2001.

Other Outreach Activities

Technical Briefs. The S&SW Center has continued to publish its series of Environmental Updates, having published five during the period covered by this report. These updates reflect the expanding scope of issues the TOSC and TAB programs are addressing and help showcase areas of expertise within the member universities.

Conference Attendance. TOSC/TAB Staffers have also attended several conferences and seminars in order to stay abreast of important developments in the technical fields helpful to our outreach programs. Among the conferences attended:

  • Three representatives of the S&SW HSRC attended the National TOSC/TAB conference, January 28-30, 2001, in Portland, Oregon.
  • Southern Regional Deal Flow Conference presented by the National Brownfield Association, February 21, 2002, in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Fundamentals of Economic Development, presented by the Economic Development Institute of Georgia Tech, April 23, 2002, East Georgia College in Swainsboro, Georgia.

Research Efforts. TAB is currently developing a research white paper entitled “Urban Reflux: Are Cities Ready to Handle the Challenge?” This research focuses on analyzing efforts to revitalize urban cores by attracting people back “downtown,” and whether cities are positioned to accurately anticipate the impact such a reflux would have on a variety of issues. Among the key questions to be addressed are:

  • Can civil infrastructure handle this reflux, and if not, what will it cost in time and money to accommodate this growth?
  • Can current transportation capabilities accommodate the predicted reflux, i.e., mass transit, highways, secondary streets, construction of new roads, etc.?
  • What environmental impacts will result from this expected reflux, e.g., clean air, clean water, sanitation, and waste disposal impacts, etc.)?
  • How does a city assure sustainable redevelopment associated with this reflux?
  • What role does brownfields redevelopment play in accommodating this reflux?

This white paper will be completed in December 2002 and will be presented to the U.S. EPA Brownfield Office in an effort to gain additional funding for a more detailed research project looking at urban reflux.

2002–2003: TAB Communities Program S&SW HSRC

Despite a sluggish economy and tight state and local budgets, brownfields redevelopment continues to occupy a high-profile position within many state and local economic development organizations due to the realization that revitalization of distressed urban properties can generate much-needed tax revenues and jobs. As a result of the brownfields Revitalization Act signed by President Bush in 2002, states have begun to receive the $50 million allocated to them under the Law, which has helped spur an increase in overall brownfields awareness among municipalities throughout the country.

The U.S. EPA was allocated approximately $170 million for its brownfields program in fiscal year 2003, with some of this money used to support the Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilot Program, which saw a record number of applicants in early 2003.

TAB expects to increase its level of service to unsuccessful pilot applicants by working with EPA Regional Brownfield Coordinators to identify applicants who could benefit from TAB assistance.

Region 4 Active TAB Sites

Augusta, Georgia. The City of Augusta was awarded a Brownfields Pilot in June 1999. Augusta is the second largest city (after Atlanta) in Georgia. It is also home to a number of industrial facilities, many of which are situated either in or near the Hyde Park neighborhood. The pilot targets the 10.8-acre Goldberg Brothers’ Salvage Yard located at the main entrance to Hyde Park. The site was operated as a salvage yard from the mid-1940s until 1998 when the site was closed. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) first became involved with the site in 1991 during a compliant inspection. Currently, the EPD is conducting limited site sampling and waste removal. The EPD and the Brownfields Team are working together to maximize the information gathered by each effort. The site is presently unoccupied and is covered by surface debris including scrap metal, tires, wire bales, and trash.

In January 2003, TAB presented a “Brownfields 101” to community members and city officials detailing the basics of brownfields redevelopment and the obstacles and opportunities the city and community may face during revitalization of the property.

In June 2003, Augusta was awarded an additional $200,000 under EPA’s Brownfields Program for performing environmental site assessments on abandoned property in Hyde Park, and for outreach, reuse planning, and to expand the existing geographic information system brownfields inventory.

Spartanburg, South Carolina. ReGenesis, Inc., of Spartanburg, South Carolina, contacted TAB in January 2002 expressing interest in assistance with the Arkwright neighborhood’s efforts to redevelop a large tract of property. Within the project area, Rhodia, Inc., operates a manufacturing plant that produces chemicals used in home, personal care, and industrial products. The community is concerned about environmental and health effects from the production of these chemicals, and has asked TAB for assistance in identifying potential problems. TAB has reviewed several documents including groundwater data generated by Rhodia to determine if groundwater leaving the Rhodia site is affecting the surrounding neighborhoods. TAB has also reviewed and commented on Rhodia’s proposed air sampling scope of work that will attempt to determine if operations are affecting air quality in the area. TAB reviewed air quality construction and operating permits as well as storm water discharge permits for the facility.

Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta was awarded an EPA Brownfield Assessment Demonstration Pilot in 1997. Original plans called for the city to inventory brownfields within the Empowerment Zone and to develop financing tools to encourage industry involvement in Brownfields redevelopment. In October 2001, TAB conducted a “Brownfields 101” workshop aimed at educating both the community and business leaders in brownfields processes and potentials. The workshop focused on the barriers to redevelopment, how to overcome those barriers, and some of the logistical problems associated with neighborhood revitalization. An update on some major brownfields redevelopment projects within Atlanta was also provided.

TAB is also assisting the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in the development of a brownfields guidebook for developers and others interested in pursuing the redevelopment of environmentally contaminated property. The guidebook will include information on the legal issues impacting redevelopment, the role insurance plays in financing and supporting redevelopment, technical issues, land-use planning, and example case studies. A second draft of the guidebook is currently under review by the Chamber, and the final product is expected later this year.

Jackson, Mississippi. TAB has been assisting the City of Jackson since May 2000, having provided a review and evaluation of several Phase I Environmental Site Assessment reports conducted on properties of interest to the city. The city was awarded an EPA Brownfield Assessment Demonstration Pilot in May 1998. In June 2000, TAB presented an overview of the program to the Mayor’s Brownfield Redevelopment Task Force and toured several brownfields sites in the city. TAB also met with city officials, state environmental officials, and a representative from Entergy Corporation (a regional utility company) to discuss plans for redevelopment of a brownfields property under the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Brightfields” program. Brightfields focuses on redeveloping brownfields properties by assisting solar power-focused businesses with business development efforts. In October 2000, Jackson was designated a Brownfield Showcase Community by EPA. In April 2002, TAB was asked by the city to assist with the development of their Quality Assurance Management Program. Jackson has since hired a new Brownfield Coordinator, and TAB is working with the city to provide assistance where needed.

Atlanta Youth Soccer Association, Atlanta, Georgia. The Atlanta Youth Soccer Association (AYSA) is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to youth soccer programs in the Atlanta area. TAB recently assisted the community in preparing a U.S. EPA Brownfield Pilot application as part of the AYSA’s plans to redevelop a 7.5-acre former trucking depot into a soccer complex and community green space. As part of a Phase I environmental site assessment that the community conducted on the property, buried underground storage tanks, petroleum, and other chemicals that were used for truck maintenance were identified. Cleanup of the property would involve some soil removal and remediation and possibly groundwater remediation, tank removal, and the removal of large concrete loading platforms.

Rock Hill, South Carolina. The Rock Hill Council of Neighborhoods represents 18 neighborhood associations dedicated to addressing environmental justice issues as they relate to community revitalization efforts in the Rock Hill’s Arcade-Westside area. The city’s once-thriving textile industry has suffered significant losses, leaving social, educational, and economic problems. Unemployment is high, and 21% of the Arcade-Westside residents have incomes below the poverty level. The Council and the City of Rock Hill have begun to address revitalization of the area and have developed a three-phase work plan to develop old mill sites and inject new life into the blighted areas. In June, Rock Hill was awarded a $200,000 EPA Brownfield Assessment Grant to conduct four Phase II environmental site assessments on former mill sites and to conduct community outreach activities and redevelopment planning. TAB is in the early stages of helping Rock Hill with capacity building assistance and will travel to Rock Hill in July to meet with the community and begin assistance efforts.

Region 6 TAB Sites

West Monroe, Louisiana. The City of West Monroe received an EPA Brownfields Pilot Assessment grant in 2000, and re-applied for additional funds in 2003. West Monroe is a small city with a population under 100,000 and is located in Ouachita Parish in north Louisiana. A portion of the city is included in the federally designated Ouachita Parish Urban Renewal Community (RC). The 2000 grant allowed the city the opportunity to assist a property owner in the Voluntary Investigation and Remediation Program (VIRP) with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ). Also, as part of this grant, a brownfields inventory was established using geographical information systems (GIS). As part of the 2003 Brownfields Assessment grant application, TAB was included to provide extended Brownfields assistance to the city. The city received notice in June that it did receive the EPA Assessment Grant, which will be awarded in October 2003. As outlined in the Contract Proposal between HSRC and CWM, the city proposes to manage the Brownfields program, with technical oversight provided by TAB. This work will overlap with work currently underway via a TAB Letter of Agreement with the city to provide technical assistance in the completion of the Brownfields Pilot Assessment project. Tasks include upgrading the GIS mapping system and developing a Remedial Action Plan for a former dry cleaning site.

Prairie View, Texas. Prairie View is a small city with a population under 5,000. The city is primarily an African American community (93.5%) that was established after the Civil War by freed slaves. The city of Prairie View is the home of Prairie View A&M University, the second oldest public institution of higher education in Texas and one of the historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). TAB provided guidance for the City of Prairie View’s EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant Part 1 proposal. The city was invited by EPA to submit a Part 2 proposal, which it submitted without HSRC assistance. Prairie View did not receive these EPA Assessment Funds; however, TAB will continue to support the City of Prairie View in their Brownfields redevelopment efforts, as needed.

Mora County, New Mexico. HSRC was contacted on February 10, 2003, by the county commission in Mora County, NM, for TOSC assistance with a closed landfill in their district. The county is concerned with the nearby community and possible ground water contamination from the site. After initial conversations with the county, TOSC/TAB staff agreed to investigate possible ways to assist with this site. TAB contacted the New Mexico Department of Environmental Quality (NMDEQ). The solid waste division is seeking a proper closure for the site. When asked about possible Brownfields assistance from the NMED, they have indicated that Brownfields assessment funds may not be appropriate for this site since monitor wells are already in place and that perhaps a Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund (BCRLF) is an avenue to be investigated by Mora County. TAB plans to keep in touch with the county commission about this effort. In April of 2003, the Solid Waste & Groundwater divisions had the drinking water sampled and analyzed from five taps in the nearby community. Results are pending, and the HSRC outreach team will maintain contact with all involved parties to date. We anticipate that TOSC assistance may be provided at some point, with TAB assistance as a possibility later in the year.

Lisbon, Louisiana. On March 13, 2003, a member of the LDEQ-Community-Industry Relations (CIR) group contacted HSRC about a site in Lisbon, LA, within Claiborne Parish. The site consists of an abandoned petroleum refinery known as the Lisbon Refinery (also referred to as Arcadia Refining & Marketing; Dubach Gas; and Claiborne Gas Company). Industrial activities at the site date back to 1943. According to LDEQ records, the refinery process units have been out of operation since October 1987, and groundwater remediation freephase recovery systems operated from 1993 to 1998. There is no current remediation ongoing. A local citizen, who is a concerned family member of residents in the area, originally contacted CIR. Apparently, the residents question whether the abandoned refinery could impact their water supply. Also, LDEQ-CIR seemed to think the site had some Brownfields potential. TOSC/TAB conducted a windshield survey of the site on April 24, 2003, and had further discussions with both the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH) and LDEQ. It appears that almost all nearby community members are on public water wells which show no signs of contamination at this time. The brownfields potential is not evident. Currently, the community interest at the site seems to have dropped off. LDEQ continues to pursue possible actions at the site, which may include the Inactive and Abandoned Sites Division. TOSC/TAB will continue to provide assistance to LDEQ-CIR and other involved parties as needed.

Other TAB Sites Within Regions 4 and 6

TAB continues to have contact with other brownfields communities and municipalities within Regions 4 and 6, yet these contacts are not currently as active as those listed above. Letters of Agreement have been signed with many of these communities/municipalities, and TAB continues to explore opportunities to provide assistance where needed.

Memphis, Tennessee. TAB has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Douglass, Bungalow, and Crump Neighborhood Association to provide assistance to the Association’s efforts to identify and redevelop brownfields properties on the north side of Memphis. During a trip to Memphis in May 2000, TAB met with the Executive Director of the Association and visited several properties the community is interested in seeing redeveloped. These sites included a former meatpacking plant and drum recycling company. Following this visit, TAB prepared a short fact sheet on environmental problems associated with these sites. Currently, the Division of Housing and Development and the Tennessee Conservation and Environment Health Department have signed on to explore redevelopment options on some of the subject properties.

Charleston, South Carolina. TAB has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the City of Charleston to provide technical assistance to the city as they move forward under the terms of their Brownfield Assessment Demonstration Pilot. TAB has reviewed a Field Sampling Plan for a brownfields site in Charleston that the city is interested in redeveloping and is providing assistance with efforts to redevelop a former landfill.

Macon, Georgia. TAB has met with the brownfields coordinator for Macon who is interested in land-use issues associated with brownfields redevelopment. TAB provided the city with an environmental site assessment guide put together by the S&SW Center. TAB made a presentation to the city during its monthly planning meeting in November 2001, outlining the Program and the services offered. TAB met with the Macon/Bibb County Planning Staff on December 18, 2001, to determine how the Program can provide further assistance with the city’s brownfields pilot. Currently, TAB is coordinating the facilitation of the development and completion of a strategic action plan for brownfields redevelopment in the downtown industrial district.

Altamaha River Partnership, Central Georgia. The Altamaha River Partnership is a coalition of 11 counties bordering the Altamaha River, which cuts through the heart of Georgia from Macon to the Atlantic Ocean. This is a very poor section of Georgia, with many brownfields resulting from timber- and textile-dependent industries. TAB has been asked by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to develop a 4- to 5-hour seminar in conjunction with the Partnership on sustainable economic development in the region.

Lake Charles, Louisiana. The City of Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish applied for and did not receive EPA funding for Brownfields activities. TAB plans to contact the city to assess the city’s future Brownfield redevelopment plans and to offer assistance as needed.

TAB Outreach Activities

Georgia Brownfields Network. As the State of Georgia develops its brownfields program, TAB is actively participating in the establishment and development of the Georgia Brownfields Network. The Network consists of representatives from economic development organizations, academia, state agencies, local governments, public companies, and the legal profession. The Network has scheduled a statewide conference entitled “Revitalizing Georgia Communities,” to be held in Atlanta, August 18-19. Panel sessions will discuss brownfields opportunities, success stories, funding sources, and keys to building and funding local brownfields programs in which TAB will participate.

Brownfields 2003, Portland, Oregon. The U.S. EPA’s annual brownfields conference will be held in Portland in October, and TAB will again participate during the exposition with a booth that highlights the TAB program’s capabilities and successes. The Western Region is the lead Center in this effort, with support from the S&SW Center.

Urban Reflux Research. The S&SW TAB Program is nearing completion of its research into the issue of “urban reflux”—the idea that redevelopment of urban brownfields sites will spur the suburban populace to return to urban areas. TAB has reviewed census data from 1990 and 2000 in an effort to determine the change in population experienced by Atlanta over the past 10 years as a result of growth in one of the nation’s fastest growing metropolitan areas. Preliminary results of the research show that the urban core of Atlanta experienced slow growth, while the metro area as a whole experienced tremendous growth. Research also shows that the urban population change may be more of a demographic change within urban areas than true urban reflux.

EPA Region 6 Brownfields Partnership Forum. TAB presented an “Overview of Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Program” for EPA Region 6 Brownfields All Pilots Forum held in May. Brownfield Pilot communities, state Brownfields officials, and EPA officials attended the forum. Dr. Danny Reible, Director of HSRC/S&SW presented information on the TAB program and conveyed to all recipients our continued support for the pilot’s Brownfields efforts.

Louisiana Brownfields Pilots Workshop. TAB presented an “Overview of Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Program” for the first annual Louisiana Brownfields Pilots Workshop, also held in May. The workshop was co-sponsored by the LDEQ and the Center for Brownfields Initiatives. Brownfield Pilot communities, state Brownfields officials, and EPA officials attended the forum. Dr. Danny Reible, Director of HSRC/S&SW, presented.

Brownfields Process Flow and Progression Analysis. This project, a “Brownfields 201” of sorts, was completed and the manuscript published in proceedings of the “Green Brownfield II” Conference held in Dresden, Germany, June 15-19. (Note: Due to scheduling conflicts, TAB did not attend the conference.) The analysis tracks the progression of a Brownfield through the Brownfields process, with particular attention towards private property owners. Simplified cost and time analyses were conducted and compared: (1) State Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP); versus (2) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard Practices for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I (E 1527-00) and Phase II (E 1903-97). Decision steps and possible exit points for participants were identified. Results indicated that the more cost-effective approach is to conduct a Phase II ASTM assessment but if remediation is anticipated at the site, the more lengthy State VRP approach should be followed from the start.

2005–2006: TOSC Program RCRA Project

New Chicago Community, Memphis, Tennessee

The TOSC Program of the S&SW HSRC, with funding from EPA’s RCRA office, has prepared this report in order to provide technical outreach services to assist the New Chicago Community Corporation in Memphis, Tennessee. The primary function of the TOSC program is to bring university educational and technical resources to communities affected by hazardous substance contamination. Our primary mission is to empower communities with an independent understanding of the underlying technical issues related to hazardous substance contamination so that they may participate substantively in the decisionmaking process. Universities are best suited for carrying out this mission because of their combination of independence, technical expertise, research capabilities, and experience in providing similar extension services to communities.

Background. New Chicago is a small enclave of Memphis, Tennessee that once housed employees of several nearby manufacturing plants and their families. After the closing of several plants in the 1980s, the community began to experience decline. Dr. Ruth Chen, a toxicologist at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) contacted RCRA/TOSC in April 2004 to request assistance for the community, which is downstream from the Velsicol Chemical Corporation plant.

The land in and around the Velsicol Chemical Corporation plant in Memphis is being evaluated under TDEC’s Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) baseline. From 1946 to 1963, the Velsicol Chemical Corporation was responsible for discharging industrial process wastewaters containing pesticides and process intermediates into Cypress Creek, which flows westward into Wolf River and then into the nearby Mississippi River. In the 1970s, municipal construction of the lined portion of Cypress Creek for flood control resulted in sediment being dredged from the creek bottom and placed on the banks of the creek; it was not known at the time that the sediment was contaminated. Residences and industrial facilities have subsequently been constructed on top of these filled areas. The New Chicago neighborhood is located along Cypress Creek downstream of Velsicol and the areas filled with dredged sediment. Velsicol’s Memphis location is a part of an RCRA corrective action program. Since December 2000, TDEC’s Division of Solid Waste Management has assumed the lead role in RCRA corrective action at the Velsicol Chemical Corporation site. Under permit conditions such as interim measures and RCRA facility investigations, Velsicol is investigating the extent of contamination by sampling the banks of Cypress Creek.

For the purposes of this investigation, residential areas of Cypress Creek have been divided into Sub-Areas III, IV, and V. The New Chicago Community is located in Sub-Area V, the 1-1/2 mile unlined stretch of Cypress Creek downstream from the lined Sub-Area III and the unlined Sub-Area IV. Sub-Area I is located in a heavily industrialized section of the creek that has been impacted by several manufacturing plants and railroad activity for about 75 years. Sub-Area II consists of the creek bed below the concrete liner of Sub-Areas I and III.

Site Visit. Staff from the TOSC Program of the S&SW HSRC traveled to Memphis April 26-27, 2005, to attend an informational meeting held by the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department. The Vollintine-Evergreen Community Association requested that the department conduct a cancer study and the results were announced at this meeting. During the visit, TOSC staff toured the area and spoke with residents of the New Chicago Community and other neighborhoods along Cypress Creek.

Based on the site visit, New Chicago appears to have a large stock of vacant or poorly maintained housing and is stricken with disinvestment. In some instances, vegetation grows unchecked and debris (including a large number of discarded tires) is scattered on many properties. Commercial strips, once lively and lined with meeting halls, bowling alleys, bars, and shops, are now boarded-up. A few corner stores exist and seem to be popular gathering places during the day. Many industrial properties and structures are also vacant, contributing to a disproportionate percentage of brownfields in New Chicago compared to nearby residential areas. Historically, several industries were located in the neighborhood, including Humco, Memphis Lumberyard, Leon Roof, Bruce, CF Works and Son, American Bridge, Firestone, Kraft Foods and Morehead. Many of these companies closed in the mid 1980s, but a handful of residents are employed at those that remain. Today, most of these industrial sites remain unused. The major exception to this, however, is the Firestone site that is being redeveloped into a golf course and leadership center for local youth.

According to several local residents, people used to fish in the creek but have since ceased doing so and have moved upstream to the Thomas Street Bridge over the Wolf River and Cypress Creek delta. In the past, children played in the creek, which is very scenic and would make an excellent recreational space if contamination were not present.

While cancer caused by creek contamination was not cited as a major a concern in this particular community, as it is in neighborhoods upstream, New Chicago residents did express concerns about health and safety problems related to discarded tires and other debris and mosquito proliferation. There is a perception in the community that while many studies have been done on the creek and other community problems in the past, nothing has actually been implemented.

Based on the April 2005 HSRC visit, major concerns of the neighborhoods were found to be:

  1. Neighborhood cleanliness, including: (a) loitering, (b) vacant properties and absentee landlords, and (c) overgrown vegetation.;
  2. Safety or perception of crime
  3. Lack of employment.
Neighborhood opportunities include:

  1. Warehouse space (shipping and warehousing is a huge industry in Memphis).
  2. Designation as a renewal community, New Market Tax Credits (NMTC), and Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) programs to attract development.

In response to these conditions, the Community Development Center (CDC), under the leadership of Mr. Eddie Hayes, is primarily involved in housing and real estate development. The CDC is involved in some non-residential projects such as the redevelopment of the historic Manassas/Ida B. Wells High School on the former Oates Manor subsidized housing project, and rehabilitating a building for the CDC to inhabit. The CDC currently has its office in an old elementary school that closed in the 1980s. The former school was renovated in 1999 to house apartments for seniors, a part-time police precinct and a community center (http://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/br/2000/d/pages/2-article.html Exit [accessed 10/21/2005]). Various explanations were given for why the school was closed; some locals believe that the school closed due to contamination detected during school board studies in the 1980s, and others feel it was associated with the closing of local industry and loss of population.

Maps of New Chicago, Cypress Creek, and Sample Data. The following maps display the locations of Velsicol Chemical Corporation, New Chicago, Cypress Creek, the four main Sub-Areas, soil sampling data, and other surrounding features. The location of Velsicol, the creek, nearby neighborhoods, and affected Sub-Areas are shown in Figure 1. Also shown are the North Watkins Dump and Bellevue Avenue Landfill, two New Chicago area properties that were under consideration for designation as EPA Superfund sites in the late 1990s.

Figure 1. Overview of Affected Area: New Chicago, Vollintine-Evergreen, Cypress Creek, and Velsicol Plant

Figure 1. Overview of Affected Area: New Chicago, Vollintine-Evergreen, Cypress Creek, and Velsicol Plant

Figure 2 depicts the location of all soil samples taken in the portion of the creek nearest New Chicago, labeled Sub-Area V, from 1964 to 2001. These are the samples used in human health risk assessments conducted by GeoSyntec Consultants and the Memphis Environmental Center, Inc., in September 2001. The year and agency responsible for each sample is noted in the legend and each point is labeled with its sample ID.

Figure 2. Soil Sample Locations by Agency and Date

Figure 2. Soil Sample Locations by Agency and Date

Data source and date

Figure 3 and Figure 4 show the results of the soil samples for two types of chemicals abundant in the creek bed: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (or PAHs) and pesticides. Benzo[a]pyrene is one of the most commonly found PAHs in Cypress Creek and dieldrin, which was once produced by Velsicol and discharged into the channel, is the most commonly found pesticide. While Velsicol also produced and released the pesticide aldrin, high levels of aldrin were not generally found because it readily degrades to dieldrin in the body and environment. Because of the amount of time that has passed since the last releases of aldrin, much of it has likely degraded to dieldrin, which explains why the levels of dieldrin are much higher.

Figure 3. Detail of New Chicago Creek Bed Area and Soil Test Results for Benzo[a]Pyrene

Figure 3. Detail of New Chicago Creek Bed Area and Soil Test Results for Benzo[a]Pyrene

Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon (benzo[a]pyrene) levels associated with soil samples taken between 1960 and 2001

Figure 4. Detail of New Chicago Creek Bed Area and Soil Test Results for Dieldrin

Figure 4. Detail of New Chicago Creek Bed Area and Soil Test Results for Dieldrin

Figure 4. Detail of New Chicago Creek Bed Area and Soil Test Results for Dieldrin

Pesticide (dieldrin) levels associated with soil samples taken between 1960 and 2001

Both PAHs and pesticides present health risks for humans. Aldrin and dieldrin are considered persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and have been the subject of recent international agreements to reduce the production and use of toxic substances. PAHs include over 100 chemicals that are created during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, garbage, or other organic substances. An example of this type of pollutant is common soot, however PAHs can be found in many other forms or in manufactured products. The PAHs found in Cypress Creek may not be the result of manufacturing but are likely present due to automobile and truck exhaust and runoff from the nearby interstate.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), animal studies have shown “that PAHs can cause harmful effects on the skin, body fluids, and ability to fight disease after both short- and long-term exposure. But these effects have not been seen in people [emphasis added]” (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts69.html Exit [accessed 8/19/2005]). Although these types of effects have not been seen in humans, there is a suspected link between high levels of exposure and certain forms of cancer. ATSDR reports that “Some people who have breathed or touched mixtures of PAHs and other chemicals for long periods of time have developed cancer. Some PAHs have caused cancer in laboratory animals when they were inhaled (lung cancer), ingested in food (stomach cancer), or applied to the skin (skin cancer)” (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts69.html Exit [accessed 8/19/2005]).

The pesticides found at elevated levels in the northern section of Cypress Creek, aldrin and dieldrin, were manufactured by Velsicol Chemical Corporation for several decades and were released with wastewater into the creek from 1946 to 1963. Aldrin and dieldrin are similar compounds that were used for pest control on crops and in homes. Since aldrin degrades quickly to dieldrin, exposure to dieldrin is more likely. The health effects of both aldrin and dieldrin are not well known. EPA has pronounced dieldrin a probable cancer-causing agent for humans although the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has stated that dieldrin is ‘not classifiable’ meaning that there is insufficient evidence that a chemical or compound causes cancer in humans. Animal studies indicate that high levels of exposure to dieldrin may affect reproduction in male animals and may cause nervous system problems, liver problems, and decreased immune systems. It is unknown whether dieldrin causes these ailments in humans.

Although not much is known about the specific human health effects of the PAHs and pesticides found in Cypress Creek, high levels were detected in many samples (Figure 3 and Figure 4) and every effort should be made to reduce exposure by avoiding creek sediments, particularly in posted areas, and not consuming fish or water from the stream. Soil samples in Sub-Area V have not been taken since 2001, although historical levels are much lower than those found in portions of the creek bed upstream.

Summary of Health Reports.

Cypress Creek Drainage Channel Investigation and Preliminary Human Health Risk Evaluation (Draft); Prepared by Memphis Environmental Center for Velsicol Chemical Corporation, September 28, 2001. This report was produced by Memphis Environmental Center (MEC) in 2001 on behalf of the Velsicol Chemical Corporation and for submission to EPA, TDEC and the Tennessee Department of Health. As of March 2006, a final version of the report has not been released. The purpose of this report was to review new and historic sampling data to determine the nature and extent of contamination in Cypress Creek and to use this information to perform a preliminary evaluation of the potential human health risks.

Table 1 contains a list of the contaminants that were found to exceed levels deemed safe for industrial purposes in Sub-Area V along with the highest concentration that was found in any one sample, the preliminary remediation goal (PRG) for industrial areas, and the number of samples that were found exceeding the industrial PRG.

Table 1. Constituents Found Exceeding PRGs in Sub-Area V From MEC Report


Constituent


Max. Concentration
(mg/kg)


Industrial PRG
(mg/kg)


Number of Samples Exceeding Industrial PRG

Aldrin

0.48

0.15

5

Dieldrin

7.4

0.15

20

Benzo[b and/or k]fluoranthene

29.0

2.9

12

Benzo[a]anthracene

16

2.9

2

Benzo[a]pyrene

17.0

0.29

18

Benzo[b]fluoranthene

3.23

2.9

1

Dibenzo[a,h]anthracene

3.3

0.29

7

Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene

9.1

2.9

2

Based on this review of all useable historical sampling data, it was determined that the extent of contamination warranted that all sub-areas, including Sub-Area V, should be included in a more detailed evaluation of potential human health risks. This detailed evaluation was carried out by GeoSyntec Consultants and published as an appendix to the larger report—a review of this document is included below. The conclusion reached by MEC and GeoSyntec, as a result of the detailed evaluation performed by GeoSyntec, was that the level of contamination in Sub-Area V did not present a high risk to the people that come in contact with the creek, and therefore, no immediate action was required.

Comparisons to Human Health Risk-Based Goals and Preliminary Risk Evaluation, Cypress Creek Drainage Channel (Draft); Prepared by GeoSyntec Consultants, September 28, 2001. This technical report was produced by GeoSyntec Consultants for Velsicol Chemical Corporation in late September 2001 and was included as an appendix to the Memphis Environmental Center’s report released on the same date. The report was not intended to be a comprehensive human health risk assessment but rather a preliminary evaluation of the potential risks to human health based on existing sampling data and assumptions about the ways in which people might come in contact with any contaminated soils and sediments. The findings in the report are useful in making decisions as to the appropriate future course of action, such as which areas need further investigation and which areas do not need to be investigated further.

The report includes an evaluation of health risks for three different types of people which are thought most likely to be in this part of the creek: groundskeepers, recreators, and channel maintenance workers. The assumptions used in evaluating the potential exposure for each of those receptors are given in the report. The most relevant receptor to the New Chicago Community is the recreator scenario since it is meant to assess the potential exposure for children playing in and around Cypress Creek. For the recreator scenario, the consultants assumed the following details about children playing in the creek area:

  • Age: between 8 and 16
  • Average body weight: 41.3 kg or 91 pounds
  • Frequency: 150 days/year—or 3 days a week for 50 weeks of the year
  • Duration: 8 years
  • Amount of soil possibly ingested: 50mg/day
  • Skin exposure to soil: assumes children are wearing shorts, short-sleeved shirts and shoes
  • Inhalation: assumes rate of breathing associated with moderate physical activity
  • Inhalation exposure time: 3 hours a day

A specific PRG was developed for each of the three categories of receptors. (PRG, or Preliminary Remediation Goal, represents the level at which soil is considered safe for humans and clean-up is not warranted.) Because the assumptions were the most conservative for the recreator scenario, it had the lowest PRG of these three scenarios for each contaminant. When screened against these customized values, there were samples in Sub-Area V that exceeded levels of dieldrin and benzo[a]pyrene considered safe for both the groundskeeper and recreator PRGs. See Table 2 for information on all of the contaminants for which at least one sample in Sub-Area V exceeded at least one of the receptor PRGs.

Table 2. Constituents Found Exceeding PRGs in Sub-Area V from GeoSyntec Report


Constituent


Max. Concentration
(mg/kg)


Recreator PRG
(mg/kg)


Groundskeeper PRG
(mg/kg)


Channel Maintenance Worker PRG
(mg/kg)


Residential PRG
(mg/kg)

Dieldrin

4.99

0.80

3.1

Not listed

0.0304

Benzo[a]pyrene

17.0

1.61

6.63

13.8

0.0621

Benzo[b and/or k]fluoranthene

29.0

16.1

Not listed

Not listed

0.6215

Dibenzo[a,h]anthracene

3.3

1.61

Not listed

Not listed

0.0621

Note: While the GeoSyntec report did not use residential PRGs to evaluate risk, they have been included here for informational purposes.

The sample with the highest concentration of dieldrin (4.99 mg/kg) was taken at a depth of 0–12” while another sample taken at the same location but at 0–3” only had a concentration of 0.52 mg/kg, suggesting that the surface soils present less of a risk than the max concentration indicates.

Because there were some exceedances found in Sub-Area V, GeoSyntec performed a preliminary risk evaluation (PRE) of each of the constituents that were above the relevant PRGs. The result of the PRE was a finding that the individual excess cancer risk estimates for recreators, groundskeepers, and channel maintenance workers are below or within EPA’s target risk range for the contaminants of concern that were identified for each receptor. No contaminants of concern for non-cancer risk were found in Sub-Area V for any of these receptors. The only area where risks were estimated to be above EPA’s target risk level is Sub-Area III, where the levels of dieldrin, endrin, a related substance known as endrin ketone, and isodrin exceeded the residential PRG which was applied to the area. All four substances are pesticides with related chemical structures. Endrin ketone is produced when endrin is exposed to light.

In other words, the report concludes that despite the fact that some soil samples in Sub-Area V had levels of dieldrin and PAHs that exceeded all preliminary remediation goals, the preliminary risk evaluation suggests that, based on assumptions about land use in this part of Cypress Creek, there is no significant elevated health risk to humans.

A detailed look at the tables from this report and MEC’s report reveals a difference in the data. This can be explained by the subset of data that each group chose to use as well as the criteria they used to screen the data. In GeoSyntec’s more in-depth review, only the most recent samples were taken into consideration when there were data available for the same location from multiple years. In Sub-Area V, the available sampling data were screened against industrial PRGs, which are higher (i.e., less restrictive) than residential PRGs, but lower (i.e., more restrictive) than the receptor-specific PRGs that were developed by GeoSyntec for use in their preliminary risk evaluation. As a result of using a larger dataset and using the industrial PRGs, the MEC report lists more samples that exceed the PRG and includes some maximum concentrations that are higher than those listed in the GeoSyntec report. These data are contained in Table 2 along with the number of samples that were found to exceed the PRG, which differs from Table 1 due to the more restrictive PRG thresholds. The data indicate that individuals may be exposed to elevated amounts of the eight compounds listed in Table 1. In the judgment of state and federal agencies, these levels of contamination are not high enough to require remediation.

Review of Cancer Incidence in the Cypress Creek Area; Prepared by Memphis-Shelby County Health Department, April 2005. The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department presented their cancer incidence study to the community. The health department performed this study in response to the concerns of citizens living along Cypress Creek. The study area covers homes along the south bank of Cypress Creek between Evergreen Street and Jackson Avenue, which are in census tracks 7, 9, and 10. This area roughly coincides with Sub-Area III; the study does not cover Sub-Area V, which is the portion of the creek adjacent to New Chicago and therefore the study does not address rates of cancer in the New Chicago community.

The review used existing data from the Tennessee Cancer Registry about the numbers and types of cancers diagnosed during 1991 and 2000 for people living in the area. The rate of incidence was compared against the rate that would be expected based on the incidence of cancer in the county as whole. The results of the study suggested that certain types of cancer are known to occur at higher rates in this area than in the county as a whole and that more research should be done on the topic. Specifically, the review suggested that there were elevated rates of pancreatic cancer in African-American women and elevated rates of breast cancer among Caucasian women. The study was not intended to address the issue of whether or not the elevated cancer rates are related to the contamination found near the creek.

As a result of the findings of the study, the Shelby County Health Department requested that the Tennessee Department of Health prepare a health consultation. The health consultation will examine whether chemicals detected along Cypress Creek pose a risk to human health from inhalation, ingestion, or other contact and will provide recommendations for necessary next steps. This study will focus on the same geographic area as the cancer incidence study. At the time of the public meeting in April it was estimated that the health consultation would be completed by the end of July 2005. As of January 2006, the Tennessee Health Department was working with EPA and TDEC to reach consensus on the report’s recommendations before releasing the consultation to the public. A public meeting will likely be held once the report is completed; it will also be posted on the Department of Health’s Web site (see http://www2.state.tn.us/health/CEDS/environ.htm Exit ).

Media Coverage. Local mediahave covered the contamination of Cypress Creek for several years, particularly the Memphis Commercial Appeal. TOSC reviewed several articles published in the last decade, which provide an overview of creek and neighborhood issues from the local media perspective.

The earliest article found in the online archives was a 1995 article by David Waters titled “This Was a Neighborhood,” which described the devastation of New Chicago after several plant closings, most notably Firestone Tire & Rubber. After Firestone closed, environmental investigators found that the company had used part of the site as a dump for debris and wastes, including asbestos. Although the illegal dumping shocked residents, environmental problems seemed minor in comparison to the economic strife experienced by the community. Median family income in New Chicago in 1960 was about 70 percent of Shelby County’s median income. By 1990, median family income had fallen to about 25 percent of the county’s, or $10,463. This drop in median income can be partially explained by the rising rate of unemployment in the community; the neighborhood’s unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent in 1960 to 23 percent in 1990.

Other problems, such as highway construction and school closings, contributed to the degradation of the community. Waters writes that when siting I-240, consultant Harland Bartholomew recommended that “Urban locations (for the interstate) should be chosen so that they do not destroy the intactness of neighborhood areas by virtue of the barrier nature of the facility.” Despite this advice, the study suggested a north-south expressway “in the vicinity of Bellevue Avenue,” a local street that runs through the heart of New Chicago. Waters also writes that in January 1982, Mayor W.W. Herenton initiated the closing of Chicago Park Elementary School. Evidently, the school had costly environmental problems, such as asbestos and contamination from nearby Leath Bayou (a tributary to Cypress Creek formerly used as a dumping ground for industrial waste) in the playground. Conflicting opinions on the exact reason for the school closing have been offered, including asbestos in the school building, pesticide contamination on the site, and low enrollment due to a dramatic drop in population in the neighborhood.

Several articles mention the consideration of sites in Sub-Area V for cleanup under the EPA CERCLA, or Superfund, program. A 1997 article by Charlier examined three contaminated sites near New Chicago: the Bellevue Avenue Landfill, North Watkins Dump, and the Cypress Creek surge basin. Charlier wrote that while sediments from flooding and dredging of the stream contained high levels of endrin and chlordane, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported that the contamination did not present an imminent danger to public health (Charlier, 1997). Despite this, Charlier reported that neighbors of the creek basin in New Chicago and the Chelsea mobile home park demanded the creek be cleaned up, “adding that they have trouble keeping children out of the litter-strewn basin” (ibid).

Residents of the nearby Vollintine-Evergreen neighborhood were unaware of the extent of the problem until a 1996 neighborhood cleanup, when volunteers were advised by environmentalists and regulators not to “be mucking around in that stuff” (Charlier, 1998). Since then, the Vollintine-Evergreen Community Association (VECA) has been active in requesting sampling and health studies, informing residents, and pushing for cleanup.

Interest in the contamination of Cypress Creek has not waned. A July 26, 2004, article by Charlier alerted the public that soil samples taken at the Springdale Creek Apartments in Sub-Area III contained elevated and unsafe levels of the chemicals aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, endrin, and heptachlor. The highest concentrations were found near the Cypress Creek side of the property and were found up to 4 feet below grade. Construction was halted for cleanup. A nearby home at 920 Bingham sat on still higher levels of several chemicals and has also been prioritized for cleanup.

Most recently, health and cancer cluster studies conducted by the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department have made the local news in Memphis. Of the April 26 public meeting to announce the cancer study results, Charlier wrote, “The review of three census tracts encompassing Cypress Creek turned up higher-than-expected rates of pancreatic cancer among African-American women and breast cancer among white women during a 10-year period beginning in 1991” (Charlier, April 27, 2005).

Velsicol Web Site Coverage. Velsicol Chemical Company created a Web site to inform the community about the various remediation activities around the creek (http://www.cypresscreekmemphis.com Exit [accessed 1/31/2006]). Since 2001, testing and analysis of creek sediments and properties have been conducted and logged on the site. The 2001 study, summarized above, used historic data and 53 additional soil samples from Sub-Areas II, IV, and V to determine areas of concern. According to the Web site, “Consistent with the outcome of all studies since 1964, the 2001 study and preliminary risk evaluation did not indicate any imminent risk to public health.”

Since the 2001 study, Velsicol has conducted focused investigations of Cypress Middle School, University Park and residential properties in Sub-Areas III and IV. Precautions such as posted warning signs near the creek and soil capping were undertaken despite the lack of long-term health risks found by toxicologists. The results of the residential soil samples were reported to both landowners and residents. Under the direction of TDEC, Velsicol is working with 12 property owners in Sub-Area III to clean up yards with concentrations of dieldrin greater than 3,000 parts per billion.

One hundred sixty truckloads of soil were removed from the Springdale Creek Apartment site. This soil, along with soil excavated during a repair to Cypress Creek’s concrete liner, has been consolidated on Velsicol’s property for controlled management. Although Velsicol tested the soil at Springdale Elementary School and found low or no-detect levels of pesticides, EPA performed cleanup on the area due to heavy metal contamination unrelated to Velsicol’s activities.

Other activities undertaken by Velsicol in 2005 include soil sampling of more locations in Sub-Area IV, completion of a draft report on the appropriate risk-based limits on soil contamination levels in Sub-Area III, and creation of a draft human health risk assessment, which is under review by TDEC. Once the report is approved, it will be made available to the public at VECA’s office.

Summary. Residents of New Chicago should be cautious around Cypress Creek; however, this section is believed to have lower levels of contamination compared to upstream Sub-Areas III or IV. Specific recommendations for the community include avoidance of the stream and sediments near the creek and in the floodplain.

Fishing or eating fish caught in the creek is not recommended, as fish may bioaccumulate toxins in the water. Bathing in or drinking stream water should also be avoided. Most importantly, contact with dirt or sediment in the creek bed and floodplain should be avoided whenever possible and soil should not be ingested. Residents should take care to wear shoes near the creek and to supervise children. Gardening near the creek or in the floodplain should be avoided and residents that are particularly worried about their level of exposure should avoid growing and eating vegetables in the area, especially squash, cucumbers, and melons, which tend to absorb a larger amount of pesticides.

Nursing mothers that are exposed to dieldrin may pass the contaminant to their babies through breast milk. Expectant or nursing mothers should take care to avoid exposure to creek soil.

Community leaders in New Chicago should continue to seek information about activities in the area by TDEC, Tennessee Department of Health, Memphis-Shelby County Health Department, or Velsicol. VECA may be a good source of information regarding health and environmental risk studies and sampling events in Cypress Creek. Leaders or advocates in the neighborhood may want to request additional sampling in Sub-Area V, particularly in the area of Lucille Price Park and New Chicago Elementary. Samples have not been taken since 2001 and therefore little is known about the current conditions in the creek. Several metals, pesticides, and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) were detected in these areas from 1964 to 2001. Lead was found at elevated levels in 1992, mercury in 1993, and arsenic in 1992 and 1993, in addition to the PAHs and pesticides mentioned in the studies reviewed in this report. Samples should be taken to insure that these toxins do not pose a threat.

This research is intended to provide residents of New Chicago background on and risk associated with contamination in Cypress Creek from Velsicol Chemical Corporation. Many of the non-pesticide compounds detected in the sampling data were more likely discharged by other sites or activities. Risk associated with other sites in New Chicago, such as Leath Bayou or the former Firestone plant, was not reviewed as part of this effort.

2005–2006: TOSC Program Hurricane Supplement

Hurricane Katrina/Rita Effort

The Region 6 Outreach team is currently focusing efforts to help communities in Louisiana understand some of the environmental impact caused by the flooding in Southeastern Louisiana from Hurricane Katrina. TOSC and TAB team members are attending numerous meetings with community groups, Region 6 EPA, LDEQ, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the City of New Orleans, other parish governments (Terrebonne, Lafourche, etc.), the Army Corps of Engineers and planning entities to help foster the discussion on recovery and rebuilding as it pertains to residents, both those living in the surrounding parishes as well as displaced citizens. TOSC also participated in the Region 6 Environmental Justice Interagency Task Force phone calls every Thursday for several months to address post-Katrina issues.

New Orleans East Communities. The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina is still being felt by the residents of the city of New Orleans as they work to rebuild their lives. The community of Village de I’est in New Orleans feel they have another added burden as a very controversial landfill (Chef Menteur) was placed near their community for disposal of hurricane debris. The site is being treated as a typical construction and demolition landfill; however, the community and many others are concerned that because of the large amounts of wastes being handled in the city, there is the potential for hazardous wastes being mixed in. Therefore, the community is very concerned about possible emissions from this site and exposure to these chemicals.

Dr. John Pardue, Co-director of HSRC S&SW has been actively working with members of the community as one of their expert consultants on the site and has recently put together a white paper that is still currently under revision. TOSC met with another group in this community, VAYLA NO (Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans), and gave a short presentation about the TOSC program, possible workshops on the different types of landfills, the regulations that govern them, as well as a fact sheet. TOSC will continue to work with this community as the situation continues to develop.

Additional Activities. The TOSC Team has attended numerous meetings to ensure that we are up-to-date on all recovery plans going on in the Gulf Coast region. In addition, below are meetings/conferences at which we either presented a poster or a presentation.

The TOSC Team has continued to give out and present information to affected communities based on the S&SW Environmental Update entitled “Basic Information for Gulf Coast Residents in Dealing with the Aftermath of Hurricanes,” which was published shortly after the hurricane season of 2005 (September 2005).

References:

ATSDR PAHs Health Assessment. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts69.html Exit [accessed 8/19/2005].

ATSDR Aldrin and Dieldrin Health Assessment. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts69.html Exit [accessed 8/19/2005].

Charlier T. Officials fight EPA plan to combine 3 waste sites. The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), August 11, 1997, Section: News, p. A1.

Charlier T. VECA Seeks Creek Study. The Commercial Appeal(Memphis, TN), May 7, 1998, Section: Neighbors, p. CC1.

Charlier T. Cypress soil to be studied-firm gauging contamination. The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), April 28, 2003 (correction appended), Section: Metro, p. B1.

Charlier T. State to cap contaminated soil-dirt blanket to cover ground near North Memphis School. The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), November 29, 2003, Section: Metro, p. B1.

Charlier T. Cypress Creek tested for toxins-elevated levels, but no health risk, Velsicol says. The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), March 7, 2004, Section: Metro, p. B1.

Charlier T. Tainted Soil Halts Housing. The Commercial Appeal(Memphis, TN), July 26, 2004, Section: Metro, p. B1.

Charlier T. Neighbors ready for tainted soil removal -- that's what Velsicol, state have discussed for Cypress Creek. The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), February 8, 2005, Section: Metro, p. B8.

Charlier T. More work at polluted site -- Cypress Creek to get fixup; further health study sought. The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), April 23, 2005, Section: Metro, p. B3.

Charlier T. Cypress Creek due more study -- Elevated cancer rates found, cause unknown. The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), April 27, 2005, Section: Metro, p. B5.

Chen R. Cypress Creek sampling efforts. Presented to the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation, March 2001.

GeoSyntec Consultants. Comparisons to human health risk-based goals and preliminary risk evaluation: Cypress Creek drainage channel. Prepared for Velsicol Chemical Corporation, September 28, 2001.

Jorgenson JL. Aldrin and Dieldrin: a review of research on their production, environmental deposition and fate, bioaccumulation, toxicology, and epidemiology in the United States. Environmental Health Perspectives 2001;109(Suppl 1).

Memphis Environmental Center, Inc. Cypress Creek drainage channel investigation and preliminary human health risk evaluation. Prepared for Velsicol Chemical Corporation, September 28, 2001.

Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, Epidemiology Program in cooperation with Tennessee Cancer Registry and Tennessee Department of Health. Review of cancer incidence in the Cypress Creek area, Shelby County, Tennessee, April 2005.

Risher W. VECA evaluating Cypress Creek role.The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), February 25, 1999, Section: Neighbors, p. CC1.

Ricker JA. RCRA showcase pilot: an efficient method for demonstrating plume stability.

Waters D. This was a neighborhood, New Chicago fights loss of jobs and, family unity, forges will to overcome. The Commercial Appeal (Memphis), December 17, 1995, Section: News, p. 1A.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Geographic Area, Waste, Water, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Contaminated Sediments, Remediation, Treatment Technologies, Brownfields, Hazardous Waste, Hazardous, EPA Region, region 4, brownfield sites, contaminated sites, chemical wastes, wetland sediment, contaminated sediment, risk assessment , remediation technologies, contaminated soil, Brownfield site, bioremediation of soils, environmental engineering, Region 6, wetland sediments, biotransformation, phytoremediation, technology transfer, outreach and education

Relevant Websites:

http://www.hsrc-ssw.org/ Exit
http://www.hsrc.org/ Exit

Progress and Final Reports:
Original Abstract
2003 Progress Report

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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