PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
ST. LOUIS AIRPORT
HAZELWOOD INTERIM STORAGE/FUTURA COATINGS COMPANY
ST. LOUIS, ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI
The St. Louis Airport/Hazelwood Interim Storage/Futura Coatings Company, a National
Priorities List site, is in St. Louis County, Missouri. The site, a U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) activity, is near the St.
Louis International Airport and the McDonnell Douglas Corporation. From 1946 to 1973, the
site was used to store radioactive materials resulting from uranium processing. High levels of
uranium, thorium, radium, and radon were detected in soil, groundwater, and air. The site is still
being used to store radioactive materials. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry considers the St. Louis Airport site to be an indeterminate public health hazard. Although there
are emissions of radon and the presence of thorium in on-site air and off-site soils and the
emission of radiation resulting from the presence of these materials is not currently considered a
health hazard. At present
conditions, the concentration of radon
off-site is indistinguishable from
levels. However, in the past, these contaminants may have
been present at levels of
Citizens have concerns regarding cases of cancer reportedly found among residents living near
five hazardous waste sites. These citizens requested the Missouri Department of Health to
investigate cancer occurrences in the area of the sites. The results of the health statistics review
and cancer inquiry by the Missouri Department of Health appear in the Public Health Implication
section. ATSDR's detailed response to comments and concerns received during the public
comment period appear in the Appendix C.
ATSDR made the following recommendations in order to protect public health in areas
surrounding the sites: 1) characterize groundwater, surface water, sediment, and soil for chemical
contamination on and off site, 2) characterize off-site surface soil and air for radiological
contaminants, 3) implement dust controls during remediation. The Health Activities
Recommendation Panel recommended this site for follow-up health studies and for community
follow up. The Public Health Actions section describes which actions have been
taken and which actions are planned by ATSDR and other federal or state agencies. Included in
these actions is that ATSDR will review additional off-site soil and groundwater data when
available from DOE and the Missouri Department of Health will periodically conduct follow-up
assessments of the cancer incidence in the Hazelwood, Latty Avenue areas of St. Louis.
A. Site Description and History
The St. Louis Airport/Hazelwood Interim Storage/Futura Coatings Company site is in St.
County, Missouri. The site, which is composed of three smaller storage areas, was combined by
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into the present National
Priorities List (NPL)
site. These areas were the St. Louis Airport Storage Site (SLAPS), the Hazelwood Interim
Storage Site (HISS) and the Futura Coatings Company site (FUTURA) (Figure 1). The HISS
and FUTURA areas share common facilities. These three facilities were grouped together
because of similarities of contaminants; proximity to each other; contaminated haul roads,
including portions of Hazelwood Avenue, Pershall Road, and McDonnell Boulevard, between the
areas; and air release of radon-222 (Rn-222). The sites also show the possibility of similar threats
to public health (Mitre, 1988). The areas are also listed on the Department of Energy (DOE)
Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP).
The SLAPS is the largest of the three areas, covering 21.7 acres, and is approximately 15
northwest of downtown St. Louis. To the south is Banshee Road and a Norfolk and Western
Railroad line, to the west is Coldwater Creek, and to the north and east is McDonnell Boulevard.
Next to the SLAPS is the St. Louis International Airport on the south. The Berkeley Khoury
League Park is to the north, and the McDonnell Douglas Corporation is to the west and
southwest. The SLAPS slopes to the west toward the creek, which is about 20 feet below the site
and 500 feet above mean sea level (Figure 2).
The HISS and FUTURA areas, which cover about 11 acres, are approximately 0.5 mile from
SLAPS and approximately 2 miles northeast of the St. Louis Airport control tower. They are
bounded on the north by Latty Avenue; on the east by the city of Berkeley; on the south by
Hazelwood, the Norfolk and Western Railroad, and a tributary of the Coldwater Creek; and on
the west by Coldwater Creek (Figure 3). The associated off-site locations collectively known as
the Latty Avenue Vicinity Properties. Businesses located along Latty Avenue are adjacent to the
HIS and Futura sites are shown in Figure 4.
In 1946, the area was acquired by the Manhattan Engineering District of the U.S. Army and
to store uranium wastes generated by the Mallinckrodt operation in St. Louis. Wastes stored at
these sites also included scrap metals, drums, covered piles, and unstabilized piles of waste
generated during uranium-processing activities. At the SLAPS, the uranium-processing wastes
were stored on open ground and once covered two-thirds of the area to an estimated height of 20
feet. In 1957, contaminated scrap metal and miscellaneous radioactive wastes were buried on the
west portion of the SLAPS (USDOE, 1986a). In 1966, after the Continental Mining and Milling
Company (CMM) purchased the property, the wastes were transferred from the SLAPS to the
HISS. In 1967, CMM sold the property and wastes to the Commercial Discount Corporation of
Chicago. The waste was then dried and shipped to the Cotter Corporation in Colorado. In
December 1969, the Cotter Corporation purchased the remaining wastes at the HISS and shipped
some material to Colorado. By late 1970, approximately 19,000 tons of uranium-processing
waste (raffinate) and barium sulfate remained at the site. By 1973, most of the wastes were
transferred to the Latty Avenue areas and the residual processing wastes had been removed to the
Cotter Corporation in Canon City, Colorado.
Besides the wastes still present at the NPL site, additional wastes were moved to either the
Weldon Springs Quarry NPL site, also in Missouri, or to the West Lake Landfill in St. Louis
County. During the latter part of the 1960's, the SLAPS land was transferred to the St. Louis
Airport Authority, which partially remediated a portion of the area.
The remediation included
demolishing existing buildings and burying the wastes on-site. The area was covered with about 3
feet of clean fill during 1969. In 1977, the responsibility for the property, but not ownership, was
returned to the DOE that was formed from the breakup of the Atomic Energy Commission
Further remediation of the HISS and FUTURA area in 1977 generated 13,000 cubic
contaminated material that were placed in a pile at the HISS area. Later, in 1979, the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC) released the property for unrestricted use. In 1982, the HISS and
FUTURA areas were placed on the DOE FUSRAP list. Also in 1982, ditches surrounding the
SLAPS were sampled by Bechtel National, Inc. The results of this sampling delineated the limits
of the uranium-238 (U-238) and radium-226 (Ra-226) contamination.
During 1984, additional remediation at Latty Avenue locations generated another 14,000
yards that were stored in a supplementary pile at HISS (Bechtel, 1987a). Also during this time, a
vehicle decontamination area was constructed, the area was fenced, and the waste piles were consolidated.
In 1985, the DOE was authorized to reacquire the SLAPS site (Public Law 98-360) and use it
a permanent disposal site for the waste existing on the site at that time. Also, contaminated soils
from ditches surrounding the site and wastes stored at HISS were to be stored at the site.
Erosion along the SLAPS was reduced by installing rock-filled structures along the western edge
of the site. At Latty Avenue locations, monitoring wells were installed. The DOE also directed
the Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) to survey the haul roads between these storage
areas. On the basis of this survey, the major contaminant detected was thorium-230, (Th-230)
and the portions of the haul roads to be remediated were determined. These areas included
portions of Hazelwood Avenue, Pershall Road, and McDonnell Boulevard.
In 1986, the roads leading to these areas were improved and during this action, additional
contaminated soils were removed from the area. Also, boreholes were drilled at the SLAPS to
define the nature and extent of the contamination (USDOE, 1986a,b).
The total amount of the wastes believed to have been stored at the SLAPS is 125,150 tons, of
which 241 tons were believed to be uranium, either naturally occurring (U-nat) or uranium-238
(U-238). Of this amount, the wastes perhaps consisted of 106,500 tons of raffinate, 10,200 tons
of leached or unleached barium sulfate, 4,000 tons of dolomite and magnesium fluoride, 3,500
tons of scrap metal, 600 tons of U-containing sand and other contaminated materials in 2,400
drums, and 350 tons of miscellaneous wastes (Mitre, 1988).
In late 1989, the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) requested that DOE survey an additional
portion of Coldwater Creek. The information garnered from this survey was used in preparing
the COE's Coldwater Creek flood control project.
B. Site Visit
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
conducted a site visit on
February 5, 1990. Participating in this visit were an ATSDR health physicist, a representative
from the State of Missouri Department of Health, representatives from DOE and its contractor,
Bechtel National, Inc., and a representative from EPA. During the site visit, a tour of the NPL
site and off-site environs was given as well as a historical perspective of the operations resulting in
the formation of the SLAPS.
C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural
The SLAPS site is located approximately 10 miles northwest of downtown St. Louis in the
suburban town of Hazelwood. Lambert Airport is immediately south of the site. The three areas
comprising the NPL site are in a commercial and industrial area. The McDonnell Douglas
Corporation is within 0.5 mile of the site and employs approximately 33,000 people. Runways
from the St. Louis Airport terminate near the SLAPS boundary on the southwest edge of the site.
The community closest to any one of the three areas is Hazelwood, Missouri, at a distance of less
than 0.3 mile from HISS.
The six census tracts which lie within roughly 1 mile of the site had a total 1990 population of
26,657; this represents a decline of nearly 14 percent from the 1980 population of approximately
31,000. The tract containing the site had a population of 4,093 in 1990.
The 1990 population of the six tracts was 52.6 percent female and 47.4 percent male. The
racial makeup of this area was 68 percent white, 31 percent black, and only 1 percent other races;
however, the population of the tract containing the site was over 84 percent black. Less than 1
percent were of Hispanic origin. Approximately 14 percent of all persons were under 10 years of
age, while just over 12 percent were age 65 or older.
There were 10,399 occupied units in the six tracts for an average of 2.56 persons per
In the tract containing the site there were 1,273 occupied housing units for 3.22 persons per
household. Median value of owner occupied housing units ranged from $38,400 to $87,500 for
the six tracts, $47,100 for the tract with the site; this figure is suggestive of a lower income
neighborhood. Nearly 70 percent of occupied housing units were owner occupied.
A recreational area, Berkeley Khoury League Park, is to the north of the SLAPS and is
contaminated with radioactive wastes previously stored at this site.
Coldwater Creek forms a site boundary and is not used for any recreational activities in the
vicinity of SLAPS. However, since the creek is about 19 miles in length, it is conceivable
some neighborhood may use it for recreational purposes and that some parks with recreational
activities may occur along the creek. The nearest well is believed to be about 1.5 miles north of
the SLAPS; however, no data are available to suggest if this well serves as a source of drinking
water. There are no agricultural activities near the areas (Mitre, 1988).
D. Health Outcome Data
Health outcome databases document health effects that occur in populations. Those data,
come from sources such as state tumor registry databases, birth defects databases, vital statistics
records, or other records, may provide information about the general health of the community
living near a site. Other more specific records, such as hospital and medical records and records
from site-specific health studies, may be used. Demographic data provide information on
population characteristics are used to analyze health outcome data.
The Missouri Department of Health (MDOH), State Center for Health Statistics, analyzes and
consults on health related information collected from several sources. The Center's Bureau of
Health Data Analysis has available statistical information, hospital discharge data, and the
Multi-Source Birth Defect Registry. The Multi-Source Birth Defect Registry consists of birth
data from the following sources: birth, death, hospital discharge Crippled Children's Services, and
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit records.
Missouri Cancer Registry (MCR) database is a repository for all newly diagnosed cancer
to MCR. MCR data is available from 1984 when the law mandated reporting of new cancer
cases. This data is not population-based.
The Missouri Department of Health, Division of Chronic Prevention and
Bureau of Smoking, Tobacco, and Cancer has a cancer inquiry process. This process is designed
to ensure that excess cancer reported to the Bureau of Smoking, Tobacco, and Cancer are
reviewed systematically in the preliminary review phase and are presented to the Cancer Inquiry
Committee. The committee can recommend either the study be discontinued or the inquiry be
expanded into an investigation phase.
This site has posed many concerns for the health and safety of the residents in St. Louis. In
the ATSDR released a health consultation, but could not adequately address the site then because
of limited data. In that same year, a private citizen's letter to the U.S. Senators and
Representatives of the region expressed concerns about the high concentrations of radioactive
materials detected in soils, sediments, and the Coldwater Creek environs.
In 1988, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed a resolution stating their reluctance "that a
permanent radioactive waste site near the airport would be in the best interest to area citizens or
the local environment." The Board additionally remained opposed to releasing the title from the
city to DOE for the purposes of site expansion (Resolution 146) unless specific conditions were
met. In 1990, the Board of Aldermen voted to offer 81 acres near the airport to the DOE (St.
Louis Post-Dispatch, February 5, 1990).
Citizens in this area of Hazelwood requested the Missouri Department of Health to
these cancer occurrences in the area and at other FUSRAP sites in the St. Louis area. In 1988 a
citizen requested a health study of persons living near five sites in St Louis area. In 1989 a
concerned citizen contacted the Missouri Department of Health regarding several cases of cancer
reportedly found among the residents in the homes closest to the HISS.
On April 29, 1991, ATSDR issued a news release announcing the availability of the health
assessment for this site. The Public Comment Period, in which citizens could obtain and comment
on the health assessment, ran from May 15 to June 13, 1991. The announcement, a newspaper
article concerning the study, and comments received by ATSDR are given in Appendix B.
Personal identifiers, except for governmental agencies or national interest groups, were deleted
from the material in the appendix. The agency response to the comments are given in Appendix C.
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