OAK HILL, WV (NEWS RELEASE) – Subsurface testing along the route of a planned sewer transmission line in the Minden area of Oak Hill did not detect the presence of PCBs.
The Oak Hill Sanitary Board is implementing a $23 million sewer improvement project, which includes the construction of a sanitary sewer line through Minden. In early October, 2017, EPA announced the results of its testing for PCBs in the Minden area. One of EPA’s samples in the sewer main construction area showed a PCB level slightly above EPA’s environmental risk level of 1 part per million (ppm). In December, 2017, after receiving the EPA test results and reviewing those in detail, the Sanitary Board’s engineer, the Thrasher Group, Inc. reported on the results of additional surface soil samples along the new sewer transmission main route in the area of the EPA sampling. The additional test results in December were below EPA’s environmental risk level of 1 ppm.1
One of the construction contractors was concerned that PCBs might be present in some of the subsurface depths in which its employees would be working. Thrasher retained an independent environmental testing firm, EnviroProbe Integrated Solutions, to test at two depths ranging from 2-5 feet at seven test locations along the transmission main route. Samples were taken at the same locations as previous samples so that corroboration would be possible. The subsurface tests received this week showed no PCBs had been detected in the subsurface areas tested.
“These most recent test results confirm our prior tests, and EPA’s prior tests, that there is no unacceptable risk to workers or residents based on exposure to PCBs in the soil in the sewer transmission line area,” said Oak Hill Sanitary Board Manager and Oak Hill City Manager Bill Hannabass. “The Sanitary Board will continue to implement this project according to schedule,” continued Hannabass. “The project will remedy a long standing problem with discharges exceeding permit levels at the Arbuckle PSD wastewater treatment plant.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, someone exposed to daily contact with soil with a PCB level at the environmental risk level detected by EPA over many years would have a one in 10,000 chance of developing cancer above the baseline risk of one in seven which everyone faces of dying of cancer.2 In a December 7, 2017 e-mail, Karen Melvin, the Director of EPA’s Hazard Site Cleanup Division for EPA Region 3, put the increased risk level at 1.3 in 1,000,000. Oak Hill’s project will not expose anyone to daily contact with the soil over many years. Contractors will be working in the environmental risk area of the project for only a few days, not many years.
PCB was a product manufactured until the 1970s, and it was stored on the Shaffer Equipment property in the Minden area. PCB increases the risk of cancer and other illnesses to people when it is ingested, inhaled, or through skin contact. In the general population, PCB exposure primarily occurs by ingestion through consuming game fish which have lived in a PCB contaminated environment. Oak Hill’s sewer project will not increase the risk of exposure by ingestion.