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Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard Final Release






Prepared by:

Federal Facilities Assessment Branch Division of Health Assessment and Consultation Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry FOREWORD The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, ATSDR, was established by Congress in 1980 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund law. This law set up a fund to identify and clean up our country's hazardous waste sites. The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, and the individual states regulate the investigation and clean up of the sites.

Since 1986, ATSDR has been required by law to conduct a public health assessment at each of the sites on the EPA National Priorities List. The aim of these evaluations is to find out if people are being exposed to hazardous substances and, if so, whether that exposure is harmful and should be stopped or reduced. (The legal definition of a health assessment is included on the inside front cover.) If appropriate, ATSDR also conducts public health assessments when petitioned by concerned individuals.

Public health assessments are carried out by environmental and health scientists from ATSDR and from the states with which ATSDR has cooperative agreements. The public health assessment program allows the scientists flexibility in the format or structure of their response to the public health issues at hazardous waste sites. For example, a public health assessment could be one document or it could be a compilation of several health consultations - the structure may vary from site to site. Nevertheless, the public health assessment process is not considered complete until the public health issues at the site are addressed.

Exposure: As the first step in the evaluation, ATSDR scientists review environmental data to see how much contamination is at a site, where it is, and how people might come into contact with it. Generally, ATSDR does not collect its own environmental sampling data but reviews information provided by EPA, other government agencies, businesses, and the public. When there is not enough environmental information available, the report will indicate what further sampling data is needed.

Health Effects: If the review of the environmental data shows that people have or could come into contact with hazardous substances, ATSDR scientists evaluate whether or not these contacts may result in harmful effects. ATSDR recognizes that children, because of their play activities and their growing bodies, may be more vulnerable to these effects. As a policy, unless data are available to suggest otherwise, ATSDR considers children to be more sensitive and vulnerable to hazardous substances. Thus, the health impact to the children is considered first when evaluating the health threat to a community.

The health impacts to other high risk groups within the community (such as the elderly, chronically ill, and people engaging in high risk practices) also receive special attention during the evaluation.

ATSDR uses existing scientific information, which can include the results of medical, toxicologic and epidemiologic studies and the data collected in disease registries, to determine the health effects that may result from exposures. The science of environmental health is still developing, and sometimes scientific information on the health effects of certain substances is not available. When this is so, the report will suggest what further public health actions are needed.

Conclusions: The report presents conclusions about the public health threat, if any, posed by a site.

When health threats have been determined for high risk groups (such as children, elderly, chronically ill, and people engaging in high risk practices), they will be summarized in the conclusion section of the report. Ways to stop or reduce exposure will then be recommended in the public health action plan.

ATSDR is primarily an advisory agency, so usually these reports identify what actions are appropriate to be undertaken by EPA, other responsible parties, or the research or education divisions of ATSDR. However, if there is an urgent health threat, ATSDR can issue a public health advisory warning people of the danger. ATSDR can also authorize health education or pilot studies of health effects, fullscale epidemiology studies, disease registries, surveillance studies or research on specific hazardous substances.

Interactive Process: The health assessment is an interactive process. ATSDR solicits and evaluates information from numerous city, state and federal agencies, the companies responsible for cleaning up the site, and the community. It then shares its conclusions with them. Agencies are asked to respond to an early version of the report to make sure that the data they have provided is accurate and current. When informed of ATSDR's conclusions and recommendations, sometimes the agencies will begin to act on them before the final release of the report.

Community: ATSDR also needs to learn what people in the area know about the site and what concerns they may have about its impact on their health. Consequently, throughout the evaluation process, ATSDR actively gathers information and comments from the people who live or work near a site, including residents of the area, civic leaders, health professionals and community groups. To ensure that the report responds to the community's health concerns, an early version is also distributed to the public for their comments. All the comments received from the public are responded to in the final version of the report.

Comments: If, after reading this report, you have questions or comments, we encourage you to send them to us.

Letters should be addressed as follows:

Attention: Chief, Program Evaluation, Records, and Information Services Branch, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 1600 Clifton Road (E-60), Atlanta, GA 30333.

Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard Public Health Assessment Final Release Table of Contents Foreword

List of Abbreviations



Site Description and Operational History

Remedial and Regulatory History

ATSDR Activities

Demographics and Land Use

Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Evaluation of Environmental Contamination and Exposure Pathways


Evaluation of the Surface Soil Pathway

Evaluation of the Surface Water and Sediment Pathway

Evaluation of the Biota Consumption Pathway

Community Health Concerns

Child Health Considerations



Public Health Action Plan

Authors, Technical Advisors



Table 1. Evaluation of Potential Public Health Hazards at Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard 28 Table 2.

Exposure Pathways Evaluation Table 33 Figures

Figure 1. Area Map: Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard 35 Figure 2.

Site Map: Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard 36 Figure 3. Demographics Within 1-Mile Buffer Around Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard 37 Figure 4. ATSDR's Exposure Evaluation Process 38 Appendix A. Glossary

Appendix B. ATSDR’s Assessment Methodology and Comparison Values

Appendix C. A Guide to Healthy Eating of the Fish You Catch

iCurtis Bay Coast Guard Yard Public Health Assessment Final Release

List of Abbreviations AOC Area of Concern ATN Aids to Navigation ATSDR Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry CAG Community Advisory Group CEL Cancer Effect Level CERCLA Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act CREG ATSDR’s cancer risk evaluation guide CRP Community Response Plan CVs comparison value DD Decision Document EMEG ATSDR’s environmental media evaluation guide EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency HRS Hazard Ranking System kg kilogram LOAEL Lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level MCL EPA’s maximum contaminant level MDE Maryland Department of the Environment mg milligram MRL ATSDR’s minimal risk level NIOSH National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health NPL EPA’s National Priorities List OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration PAH polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon PA Preliminary Assessment PA/SI Preliminary Assessment/Site Investigation PCBs polychlorinated biphenyls PHA public health assessment PHAP Public Health Action Plan

–  –  –

ppb parts per billion ppm parts per million RBC EPA’s risk-based concentration RI Remedial Investigation RI/FS Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study RMEG ATSDR’s reference media evaluation guide SI Site Inspection SVOCs semi-volatile organic compounds UST underground storage tank VOCs volatile organic compounds

–  –  –

Summary The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) prepared this public health assessment (PHA) to evaluate the potential for contamination from the United States Coast Guard (Coast Guard) Yard (the Yard) site. Specifically, ATSDR wanted to know whether any such contamination would cause harm to people working at or living near the facility. Following a detailed review, ATSDR finds that the Yard poses no threat to public health.

The Yard occupies 113 acres in Ann Arundel County, Maryland, approximately 6 miles southeast of downtown Baltimore (Tetra Tech 2000a). The Yard was originally established in 1899 as a Coast Guard training academy and boat repair facility. By 1910, the Yard had become a fully operational shipbuilding and repair facility (EPA 2002).

As a result of more than 100 years of activity at this site, chemicals have been released to the environment. In 1993 the Coast Guard conducted a Preliminary Assessment (PA) at the Yard. In 1998, the Coast Guard submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) information supplemental to the 1993 PA. Sampling results indicate contamination from semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, and dioxins (EPA 2002). It is also possible for such contamination to migrate into adjacent surface water. On September 5, 2002, the EPA added the Yard to the National Priorities List (NPL) of sites to be investigated, primarily due to concerns about surface water and fishery contamination (Tetra Tech 2000b). The NPL is a part of the federal government’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as “Superfund.” Through its PHA process, ATSDR conducted a site visit and met with representatives from the Yard and the Coast Guard. At the time of the visit, ATSDR did not identify any hazards posing immediate threats to public health. ATSDR determined, however, that it needed additional information for a more complete evaluation of ways in which people could have been exposed, or could be exposed, to contaminated surface soil, surface water/sediment, and fish in the nearby waterways. ATSDR addresses these issues in this document.

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 the Yard do not pose past, current, or future public health hazards.

Specifically, Contamination in groundwater poses no past, current, or future public health hazard. The Yard and nearby residents have received their drinking water from the City of Baltimore water supply since at least the 1940s. Therefore, Yard employees and residents have not been exposed to contaminated groundwater.

Contamination in surface soil is not expected to pose a health threat. Certain areas of the Yard contain VOCs, SVOCs, pesticides, PCBs, and metals in surface soil. However, a perimeter fence and a gated entrance largely prevent public access to these contaminated areas. Although workers or trespassers might have come in contact with contaminants in surface soil, contact was likely both infrequent and brief. Intermittent contact with surface soil contaminants — even Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard Public Health Assessment Final Release at the highest levels reported — is not expected to pose a health concern. Moreover, access restrictions and land use controls will help to prevent potential future exposures to any soil contaminants.

Contamination in surface water and sediment of the local waterways is not expected to pose a health threat. Contaminants from the Yard’s former operations could have migrated into Curtis Creek and Arundel Cove. Some VOCs, SVOCs, pesticides, PCBs, and metals were detected in surface water and sediment samples near the Yard. Public access to the waterways is, however, limited. Although there is no evidence of people wading or playing in or near the waterways, any exposure would likely be infrequent and of short duration. Accordingly, such limited exposure with low-level contamination in the waterways is not expected to pose a health concern.

If recreational fishermen follow the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) fish advisory, consumption of locally caught fish and crab is not expected to pose a health threat.

Yard employees and Coast Guard retirees are permitted to fish off the marina along Arundel Cove, which borders the Yard property to the east and flows to Curtis Creek. Fish from Curtis Bay and upper Curtis Creek have been tested by the MDE for possible uptake of contamination.

ATSDR has reviewed this data, and MDE currently has fish advisories on blue crab, brown bullhead, small and largemouth bass, eel, carp, catfish and perch. ATSDR recommends that sport anglers follow all MDE fish consumption advisories. Considering this information, ATSDR concludes that fish from Curtis Creek should be safe to eat in proportions recommended by MDE.

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