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Public Comment Requested on Public Health Assessment of Former Burn Area Superfund Site

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 26, 2012

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has released a draft Public Health Assessment for the former burn area, also known as the Velsicol Burn Pit or Gratiot County Golf Course, superfund site in St Louis, Mich. This assessment looks at the amount of chemicals in the soil, ash, and groundwater under the former burn area.

Of the results from the Public Health Assessment, soil from the former burn area and from a nearby neighborhood did not have levels of chemicals over health-based screening levels. There are ash piles in the former burn area that do have levels of arsenic and lead over health-based screening levels. However, people are not expected to be harmed by those chemicals, as people will have little to no contact with the ash piles.

Further, shallow groundwater under the former burn area had higher levels of chemicals than groundwater from deeper underground. This could potentially mean that chemicals in the soil or ash piles at the former burn area could be moving into the groundwater. People have little, if any, contact with the shallow groundwater under the former burn area, and nearby private drinking water wells did not have chemical levels above health-based screening levels.

MDCH invites the public to provide comments about the draft Public Health Assessment, which can be found online at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/Former_Burn_Area_PHA_Public_Comment_379509_7.pdf. Copies also are available at the T.A. Cutler Memorial Library located at 312 Michigan Ave., Saint Louis, MI 48880.

Information and comments may be sent to Dr. Jennifer Gray, Division of Environmental Health, Michigan Department of Community Health, 201 Townsend St., Lansing, MI 48913.

Comments must be received by May 7, 2012. Responses to all comments will be provided in the final version of the assessment.

The department's Division of Environmental Health conducted the Public Health Consultation under a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Information concerning the human health effects of exposure to environmental contaminants can be found on the ATSDR website: www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaq.html.

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