We are building a list of frequently asked questions for your review.
NRF sponsored a public meeting, Feb 26, 2009 to provide information on the PCB contamination in the Upper Neuse basin. The following is a list of audience questions from that meeting.
Peter deFur, Ph.D. -- Environmental Stewardship Concepts
Dr. Peter L. deFur is president of Environmental Stewardship Concepts and an Affiliate Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the Center for Environmental Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he conducts research on environmental health and ecological risk assessment.
Dr. Fred Pfaender -- University of North Carolina Superfund Basic Research Program
Dr. Pfaender is a Professor of Environmental Microbiology in Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the UNC School of Public Health. His research is concerned with microbially mediated transformations of xenobiotic chemicals in soil, marine and subsurface environments. The primary focus is on identification of the environmental factors that regulate microbial activities.
Drew Cade -- Lake Crabtree County Park
Drew is the Manager at Lake Crabtree County Park and was an active participant on the PCB task force created by local governments in 2005. Due to the PCB levels found in fish, Wake County has adopted a catch-and-release-only policy at Lake Crabtree and Crabtree Creek.
Formation of a Crabtree Committee
There is still work to be done to ensure the protection and education of our community regarding PCB contamination in the Neuse River Basin. If you are interested in taking an active or leadership role in that work, please contact the Upper Neuse RIVERKEEPER® at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-856-1180 regarding your interest in participating and your schedule of availability.
YMCA members, triathletes, parents; some patrons don't want to touch the water at all. Visitation is going up but it's probably because of population growth. The only fishing is social fishing on the outskirts of the lake; county policy is catch and release now.
The effects of PCBs are difficult and expensive to analyze; PCBs stick to everything and most of the toxicity is not apparent at low levels. Lake Crabtree is in the middle of an urban area with inputs from all kinds of places, so the situation is always more complex than you think it is.Some of what is coming into the creek and lake is going to take more money just to figure out what it is than to clean up.The EPA is not going to pay for that.
There are pluses and minuses in regards to dredging; unless dredging is done carefully, it will just spread the sediment that is currently contained in the reservoirs everywhere.
Are you going to have a baby someday?It's not just about "me" -- it's about all of us.If there are not people who are fishing there now [Lake Crabtree] to put food on the table, then there will be.We are responsible for all members of our community.If collective contamination is not great enough, then there are problems you will never see, but will occur nonetheless.Mink populations in the Great Lakes collapsed [due to PCB contamination].They didn't just get sick, they all died.Wildlife will simply disappear; we have a responsibility to be honest and ethical stewards.
Tax payers dollars paid to create these wetland environments we all enjoy.Wildlife is taking advantage of them.Now it's compromised; do we leave the wildlife hanging? All of these things cannot read the signs, they are around them 24/7.
Ward Transformer was originally built to contribute to electrical grid.All of us want electricity.We all contributed to this problem by demanding electricity; general electric and everyone else uses PCBs.PCBs worked really well and they were cheap; our lifestyle has (unknowingly) demanded that these things be used and we should take responsibility for the cleaning up the consequences.
If a Potentially Responsible Party in this day and age is going to start down the road of cleanup, oftentimes the state, or maybe the EPA, will require that they post a bond to ensure that it will be cleaned up.Cost of the cleanup was intended to be spread around.At present, when public funds are used for cleanup, they are taxpayer dollars, provided to EPA's budget.Before the 2000s, there actually was a fund.Three small taxes were levied on types of products that were used at these types of sites by large companies.The federal government no longer authorized the taxes in 2003, and the funds ran out.So now, all tax payers must bear the burden.
The buzz word is exposure control.It [exposure to PCBs] depends on your diet, where you lived before you came to Raleigh, and how old you were during exposure.I just became a grandfather; while my daughter was pregnant, I bought and installed a water filter for her faucet.If you want to do something to protect your own health, water filters are the cheapest, easiest, most effective method to limit your exposure.
You could probably water your plants.Plants do not take up PCBs and PCBs are not dissolved in waters.
This is a model site; EPA people are here, they are competent, they care about what they're doing.Did they pick the right technology?They probably picked the right technology given what they had.Thermal desorption works.No PCBs are coming out of the smoke stack because they are basically burned.
No.Microorganisms (bacteria, fungi) are being used, however. The most effective kind is the one that grows in the complete absence of oxygen.Then there's a method people are attempting to develop to use fungus (mushrooms, yeast, e.g.) to break down these complicated chemicals.
General Electric spent millions of dollars trying to develop a microorganism that could break these down.Every time you have a storm event, you have water that trickles down into your anaerobic environments [making it difficult to use anaerobic environments].
Various metals help break it down.These are still experimental.
People are uncomfortable with black carbon idea because it doesn't go anywhere.PCBs just bind very tightly to the carbon.
You don't get any breakdown.Sediment will build up and build up and at some point [implying that a dam will break or the waters will overflow the creek banks, leading to widespread deposition and contamination].
The reality is, we're providing flood control [through the reservoir and the lake].At some point that capacity is going to be compromised.It must be quantified so that we can establish a life cycle for the sediment.
I had heard from some of the EPA projections that it could take 9 years for the sediment with PCBs to be buried far enough for the benthic invertebrates not to come into contact with it, which is the source of the contamination in fish.There are a lot of issues that go with dredging that could impact drinking water supplies farther downstream.
There are always communities downstream to consider.
Yes. Since the beginning of the Removal Action the amount of soil requiring remediation has increased. As of February 2009, it is estimated that when the removal action is completed, soil volumes will be more than twice the amount originally estimated in the work plan (from 100,000 tons to approximately 250,000 tons).
Contamination at Superfund sites is almost always greater than the original site investigation finds; this is not unique to Ward.
Yes. The removal action is on track. Due to the increase of the volume of soil requiring remediation, the removal action original schedule was extended. As of the end of February 2009, it estimated that the on-going removal action will be completed this summer.
Sampling locations, depth and frequencies for areas downstream of Ward Facility (Operable Unit 1 areas) will be determined during preparation of the Remedial Design work plan.
If there was a comprehensice survey that told us what was where downstream there would be a good basis for a fairly modest [clean up] effort. Without that it could involve lots of samples regularly - like every few years. Remember these are chemicals that do not move around rapidly.
Any deep areas, or old
stream channels, that are likely to have stored the most sediment over time
should be thoroughly profiled to locate "hot spots" that may benefit
Daniel W., Levine, Jay F. and Law, J. McHugh. (2007). "Polychlorinated Biphenyl
Exposure Causes Gonadal Atrophy and Oxidative Stress in Corbicula fluminea
Clams". Toxicologic Pathology, 35:3,
356 – 365. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01926230701230288
Bivalves filter particles out of the water, digest the bacteria off the outside and spit the particles back out. If the particles come from the sediment they will likely have PCBs on them and it therefore gets into the bivavle (clam/mussle).
It is unlikely - remember PCBs don't dissolve in water. Since no one in Raleigh uses the contaminated lakes and creeks for a drinking water source it should not be a problem. If the Neuse is contaminated that does pose a problem since it serves as a water source for downstream cities; that is one of the reasons determining how far downstream the contamination goes is so important. However, one of the big difficulties with the Neuse is figuring out where things came from - lots of stuff gets in the river from all over the area. There are probably much larger concerns than a few parts per billion (ppb) of pcbs.
City of Raleigh
of Raleigh does
test for a PCB compound, but has never detected any presence. The water
treatment plant tests the finished water for PCB’s as decachlorobiphenyl.The PCBs constituents are Aroclor 1016,
Aroclor 1221, Aroclor 1232, Aroclor 1242, Aroclor 1248, Aroclor 1254, and
Aroclor 1260 (Public Utilities Department)
There are other sites in the area, but there is no regular monitoring for PCB since it is a difficult and expensive analysis.
Ward had other properties in
the Crabtree Creek watershed that may have contributed to the reach of the
contamination into the Neuse.There are also State advisories for PCBs in
Rocky Branch and Walnut Creek
areas which are south of Lake Crabtree/Crabtree Creek, but these are not
connected to the Crabtree Creek watershed.