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Viking Site Is Focus Of Public Health Assessment

By Staff | Nov 11, 2009

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) prepared a public health assessment (PHA) to evaluate potential adverse human hazards related to exposure associated with the Dalzell Viking Glass Company Site. The document summarizes the available environmental data of soil and groundwater, and reports the results of WVDHHR’s evaluation of past, present, and future exposure to environmental contaminants associated with the Dalzell Viking Glass Company site located at 802 Parkway Drive in New Martinsville.

WVDHHR/ATSDR program staff contacted the Wetzel County Health Department, New Martinsville Water Department, Litman Excavating, and Bridgeport Equipment and Tool regarding any community health concerns they were aware of. None of these entities reported any site-specific health concerns.

At the request of WVDEP, the WVDHHR prepared this public health assessment to evaluate whether the former Dalzell Viking Glass Company Site poses a public health hazard to the surrounding community. Although, WVDHHR is not aware of health concerns from the community.

The USEPA and the WVDEP previously conducted an investigation, site assessment, and a removal operation at the site after Dalzell Viking Glass Company entered bankruptcy in 1998. For this public health assessment, WVDHHR reviewed the available surface soil and groundwater data, and evaluated potential health concerns related to the site.

The primary route of human exposure identified at the Dalzell Viking Glass Company site was incidental ingestion of surface soil. Based on the review of available environmental information, site-specific estimates of exposure and toxicological analysis, WVDHHR concluded that:

Between September 2002 and the present time, estimates of exposures to chemicals from all sources via accidental ingestion and drinking were and are not expected to harm people’s health.

The estimated theoretical cancer risks from exposures to the carcinogenic COCs such as PAHs and arsenic are below accepted risk level.

Between 1998 and December 1999, estimated exposures of teenager and adolescent trespassers to chemicals via accidental ingestion were not expected to harm their health.

Exposure to lead at the concentration in the surface soil on-site via accidental ingestion was and is not expected to harm young children’s health, because the predicted blood lead levels of non-pica (normal behavior) children and developing fetuses were below the level of concern as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The blood lead levels were predicted based upon lead concentrations in surface soil.

Past exposure to chemicals via air inhalation during active glass manufacturing operations cannot be concluded from currently available information.

Exposure to radioactive chemicals from drinking water was and is not expected to harm people’s health, because the available records in West Virginia Safe Drinking Water Information System, indicate that the radiation levels in finished water of Wetzel and Leap Street wells meet the USEPA’s National Primary Drinking Water Regulation standards. In addition, USEPA concluded in June 2005 that overall reported radioactivity was relatively low and not what would commonly be construed as alarming.

According to WVDHHR program data, the rate of elevated blood lead level (EBLL) in the 26155 zip code area is slightly higher than that in Wetzel County, although the small sample population does not allow for any statistically significant conclusions. WVDHHR believes that the EBLL is not likely to be an indicator of proximity to the Dalzell Viking Glass Company Site. Many factors could contribute to the EBLL, such as the percentage of children in the target age group under the poverty level, the percentage of older housing units in this area, and the zip code 26155 area geographically covers almost one-third of Wetzel County.

WVDHHR recommended that:

1. Ensure that access to the site is restricted.

2. Continued monitoring of the two municipal water supply wells located north of the site.

3. Health Education: Parents should observe their children to verify they do not exhibit pica behaviors. Parents should also encourage good hygiene, including regular hand washing after playing and before they eat and drink. Parents should use precaution, and warn their children that the site poses unsafe health conditions.

4. Additional residential soil sampling may be needed to ensure that the data reviewed in this PHA is representative.

The WVDHHR’s public health action plan is the following:

WVDHHR will be developing a fact sheet outlining the key points of this report and educational fact sheets for some of the contaminants found at the site for the concerned community members, the local health official, New Martinsville Water Department, current owner of the site, and Bridgeport Equipment and Tool, Inc. WVDHHR had a public meeting in New Martinsville City Hall in the City Council Chamber at 191 Main Street on Nov. 5 to present the report and conclusions. In addition, the WVDHHR will provide health education to community members when concerns are expressed. The WVDHHR prepared the public health assessment under a cooperative agreement with the ATSDR.

The facility originated as the New Martinsville Glass Company in 1900. It was sold in 1944 to Viking Glass and in 1987 the Dalzell Viking Glass Company was formed. The facility had three furnaces fueled by natural gas and produced five tons of glass per day. In 1998, the company filed for bankruptcy and the furnaces were shut down. On May 17, 1999, the company entered receivership, the assets of the company were sold, and the site was left abandoned.

In 2005, Litman Excavating, owned by Robert Litman, purchased the property. According to communications with the representative of the current property owner, the former retail shop building (located on the northeast corner of the site, facing First Street) was leased to an auto glass company for use as storage space. The northern half of the former new warehouse has been leased to Bridgeport Equipment and Tool Company for storage, and another half is currently occupied by the owner as storage space. Since the new warehouse building is not heated, usage during the winter is minimal.

The public is invited to submit comments on the public health assessment for the Dalzell Viking Glass Company Site. The public comment release document is available for public review during normal library hours at the New Martinsville Public Library, 160 Washington Street, New Martinsville, and online at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/PHA/HCPHA.asp?State=WV.

Written comments must be sent before Nov. 30 to: Attn: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Cooperative Partners Program, RE: Dalzell Viking Glass Company Site, Radiation, Toxics and Indoor Air Division, Office of Environmental Health Services, Bureau for Public Health, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Capitol and Washington Streets, 1 Davis Square, Suite 200, Charleston, WV 25301-1798.

The WVDHHR and ATSDR funded this investigation through a cooperative agreement. For more information or for a copy of this report, call the Office of Environmental Health Services of the WVDHHR at 304-558-2981.

How The Report Was Made

The steps taken in completing a public health assessment are as follows:

Evaluating exposure: WVDHHR starts by reviewing available information regarding environmental conditions at the site to determine the presence and location(s) of contamination, and assess the likelihood of human exposure. Typically WVDHHR does not collect environmental samples, but rather relies on information provided by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), other government agencies, businesses, and organizations for accurate and reliable information.

Evaluating health effects: If evidence indicates current or potential human exposure to contamination is likely, WVDHHR will take steps to determine whether such exposures could result in unacceptable impacts to human health. The evaluation is based on existing scientific information and is reported in the form of the public health assessment. The assessment focuses on the public health-impact of the community.

Developing recommendations: in the public health assessment, WVDHHR sets forth its conclusions regarding any potential health threat posed by the site and offers recommendations for reducing or eliminating human exposure to contaminants. The role of WVDHHR is primarily advisory. Acting in this capacity, it provides recommendations for implementation by other agencies, i.e.; WVDEP and USEPA.

Soliciting community input: The evaluation process is interactive. WVDHHR starts by soliciting and evaluating information from various governmental agencies, and/or organizations responsible for cleaning up the site, as well as surrounding communities that may be impacted by onsite contaminants. Any conclusions about the site are shared with groups and organizations providing the information.