Follow-Up Sampling of Putah Creek Fish for Hazardous Chemical Content
Davis South Campus Superfund Oversight Committee
Rt. 2 Box 2879
Davis, CA 95616
e-mail [email protected]
October 12, 1997
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board
3443 Routier Road, Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95827
Dear Mr. Carlton,
Enclosed please find Dr. G. Fred Lee's comments on the ATSDR's planned "Follow-Up Sampling of Putah Creek Fish for Hazardous Chemical Content" submitted to DSCSOC and forwarded to William Taylor, ATSDR. Please forward Dr. Lee's comments to the CVRWQC Board members for their review prior to their consideration of the University of California, Davis Wastewater Treatment Plant Discharge Requirements, Cease and Desist Order and the proposed Replacement Wastewater Treatment Plant Facility issues now pending before the Board and scheduled for hearing on October 24th.
It is important that the Board members understand that contrary to UCD's David Phillips' testimony at the Board's meeting on managing toxicity held on September 19, 1997 that Putah Creek is in "excellent condition" and not adversely affected by its campus wastewater treatment plant's discharges, the weight of evidence currently available is that UCD is responsible for the mercury and hazardous chemical bioaccumulation problems in Putah Creek that have been found in the previous ATSDR/NARPEL studies. Fish taken from Putah Creek near the Wastewater Treatment Plant discharge have bioaccumulated hazardous levels of mercury and lead and represent a public health hazard to those who use the fish as food. Further, contrary to Mr. Phillips' propaganda statement, there can be little doubt that the chronic toxicity that has been present in UCD's wastewater discharges to Putah Creek at least over the past few years has caused toxic conditions in Putah Creek which are in violation of the Basin Plan requirements of no toxics in toxic amounts. Mr. Phillips' "excellent condition" statement is based on a superficial review of the characteristics of the fish population in Putah Creek which ignores the bioaccumulation issues and the measured toxicity in the wastewater discharges.
There were some problems with the sensitivity of the analytical procedures used in the ATSDR/NARPEL studies. Several chlorinated hydrocarbons were not measured with sufficiently sensitive analytical procedures to determine whether there is an excessive bioaccumulation problem. Further, no measure was made of dioxins where are frequently the cause bioaccumulation problems. It would be premature for this Board to accept UCD's statements regarding its impacts on Putah Creek until a more comprehensive study is completed which includes sufficient sensitivity to detect hazardous constituents of concern that have bioaccumulated in fish tissue at potentially hazardous levels based on values that the US EPA Region 9 has provided to the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board has been conducted.
As discussed in Dr. Lee's comments on the proposed ATSDR/NARPEL additional studies on bioaccumulation in Putah Creek fish, the ATSDR/NARPEL cannot do the follow-up studies on the chlorinated hydrocarbon chemicals of concern. Since the excessive bioaccumulation problems that have been found in fish taken from the Creek near the UCD campus wastewater discharge are almost certainly associated with UCD's wastewater discharges or stormwater runoff to Putah Creek, the public requests that as part of issuing a revised Wastewater Treatment Plant permit the CVRWQCB require that UCD develop an on-going bioaccumulation study program which would not only address the deficiencies in the previously conducted studies, but also would provide continuing information on bioaccumulation issues associated with UCD's discharges of wastewaters and stormwaters to Putah Creek.
While there have been problems in the past with the approach that has been followed by the CVRWQCB staff in enforcing UCD's compliance with Basin Plan objectives, the public requests that this Board require full compliance with Basin Plan objectives for protection of public health and the environment where compliance is properly monitored by UCD.
Dr. Lee invites those who have questions or comments about his information to contact him. On behalf of Dr. Lee, I invite you, CVRWQC Board members and staff or others who have questions regarding this information to contact Dr. Lee.
I thank you for your attention to this matter.
Julie Roth, Ex. Dir.
cc: Dr. G. Fred Lee
DSCSOC's Board Members
William H. Taylor
Davis South Campus Superfund Oversight Committee
Davis, CA 95616
e-mail [email protected]
Davis South Campus Superfund Oversight Committee
October 12, 1997
William H. Taylor
1600 Clifton Dr. MS-E56
Atlanta, GA 30333
Enclosed please find Dr. G. Fred Lee's comment on ATSDR's "Follow-Up Sampling of Putah Creek for Hazardous Chemical Content" which Dr. Lee indicated in his phone conversation with you he would provide upon his return from his recent lecture tour.
Dr. Lee's comments have raised some issues about ATSDR's study which are of concern to DSCSOC and the citizens in this community. The follow-up studies should include not only additional studies on lead and mercury, but a proper screening for all of the chlorinated hydrocarbons of typical concern, including PCBs and dioxins, to ensure that those who consume fish from Putah Creek are not exposed to hazardous concentrations of these constituents. If the follow-on studies for the constituents that were measured in the original studies with insufficient sensitivity cannot be done by ATSDR/NARPEL, then arrangements must be made to have UCD/DOE fund these studies to eliminate the significant information gap that exists now in this area. DSCSOC feels it is most important for ATSDR/NARPEL, or whomever does these studies, to use sufficient sensitivity to detect several of the constituents of concern at potentially hazardous levels based on the values US EPA Region 9 provided to the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The quality of fish in Putah Creek in the vicinity of the LEHR site is higly important to this community as the Creek at this location is used almost daily by citizens for fishing. To date, no agency has taken responsibility to post the Creek as recommended in the ATSDR/NARPEL's fish study. Members of this community continue to consume fish caught at this location without warning or knowledge of the general health advisory ATSDR/NARPEL recommended be posted as justified by the hazardous levels of lead and mercury found in the fish at this location.
I am looking forward to seeing you at DSCSOC's Town Meeting, and DSCSOC appreciates your participation in our program. You have not responded to my e-mail regarding your attendance at the LEHR RPM meeting scheduled for l:30 or 2:00 PM on the Oct. 28th. If your schedule allows you to be in Davis prior to the Town Meeting, the RPMs and DSCSOC would like to invite you to attend this meeting. Please let me know if I can do anything to assist you while you are in Davis.
If you or others have any questions regarding Dr. Lee's comments, please contact him and thank you for your assistance in helping the public in these matters.
Julie Roth, Ex. Dir.
cc: DSCSOC's Ex. Board
Dr. G. Fred Lee
G. Fred Lee & Associates
27298 E. El Macero Dr.
El Macero, California 95618-1005
Tel. (916) 753-9630 · Fax (916) 753-9956
e-mail [email protected]
G. Fred Lee & Associates
October 11, 1997
Julie Roth, Exec. Director
Route 2, Box 2879
Davis, CA 95616
Please find enclosed my comments on Dr. William Taylor's September 10, 1997 letter and the NAREL September 17, 1997 draft plan for follow-up studies on the bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals in Putah Creek fish. As discussed in these comments, I have significant problems with the proposed approach which relate to the inadequate studies that were done previously. At this time there is inadequate information on the bioaccumulation of several hazardous chemicals in Putah Creek fish. As I pointed out, and now Dr. Taylor acknowledges, NARAL used analytical methods in the previously conducted studies which were inadequate to determine whether a number of constituents are present at potentially hazardous levels. Further, there are problems with some of the proposed approaches for interpretation of data.
In my report I have discussed how the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration attempts to distort the inadequate or unreliable information in the previously conducted study of bioaccumulation of hazardous chemical in fish as propaganda in support of its position that increased treatment requirements for its proposed revised NPDES permit for its campus wastewater treatment plant discharge to Putah Creek should not be imposed since the US EPA NAREL and ATSDR claim that there are no problems in several areas. The facts are, as discussed in my previous correspondence, the statements about lack of problems should not have been made by NAREL and ATSDR since the lack of problems relates to how the study was formulated and conducted.
The US EPA Region 9 and NAREL as well as ATSDR and the RPMs should understand that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration is grasping for straws to try to prove that its campus wastewater treatment plant discharges which have repeatedly been found to be chronically toxic to aquatic life at the point of discharge are not adversely impacting the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. They also want to prove, contrary to the weight of evidence currently available, that this discharge is not responsible for the mercury and hazardous chemical bioaccumulation problems that have been found in the previous ATSDR/NAREL studies. UCD representatives (D. Phillips) testified at a Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board information meeting on managing toxicity held on September 19, 1997 that Putah Creek was in excellent condition and had not been adversely affected by its campus wastewater treatment plant's discharges of toxics. This is part of the distorted information that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration representatives have continued to foster on the public and regulatory agencies.
I suggest that you send a copy of this report to Gary Carlton, Executive Officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Deborah Denton of the US EPA Region 9, since it contains information pertinent to their review of the adequacy of the UCD's treatment of its campus wastewaters for discharge to Putah Creek. It is important to understand that at this time it is uncertain whether LEHR site stormwater runoff is also contributing to the excessive mercury and lead found in Putah Creek fish.
Please call if you have questions about these comments and please forward them on to Dr. William Taylor, the RPMs, PRPs and others as appropriate.
G. Fred Lee, PhD, DEE
"Follow-Up Sampling and Analysis Guidelines for Fish, Sediment,
and Water Samples from the Putah Creek Adjacent to the
Former Laboratory for Energy-Related Health Research, Davis, CA"
Draft 2.2, dated September 17, 1997
B. Lloyd and S. Telofski, US EPA-NAREL, Montgomery, AL
G. Fred Lee, PhD, DEE
DSCSOC Technical Advisor
G. Fred Lee & Associates
El Macero, CA 95618
PH: (916) 753-9630
FX: (916) 753-9956
em: [email protected]
October 10, 1997
On September 19, 1997 via e-mail I received a request to review on short notice a US EPA proposed follow-up sampling for fish, sediment and water from Putah Creek near the University of California, Davis - Department of Energy LEHR national Superfund site. This request came at a time when I am participating in an American Chemical Society sponsored lecture tour through Kentucky and Indiana. Following review of the draft re-sampling plan, since there was concern about being able to sample in the near future, I called W. Taylor to indicate that I had no problems with the proposed sampling components of the plan with respect to fish sampling locations and overall approach for sample handling. I informed Dr. Taylor that I had significant problems with some of the proposed analytical procedures and proposed approaches for analysis of data, as well as the overall scope of analysis for the proposed re-sampling. I also informed Dr. Taylor that I would be submitting detailed written comments on these issues. My comments on the draft re-sampling plan are presented below.
As a preface to these comments, in the spring of 1997 I sent letters to Julie Roth dated April 15, 1997 and to Dr. William Taylor dated May 9, 1997 discussing the inadequacies of the initial US EPA/ATSDR sampling program for excessive bioaccumulation of hazardous chemicals in Putah Creek fish, sediments and water taken from the Creek near the LEHR site. In that correspondence I pointed out that the analytical methods used for a number of key parameters did not have sufficient sensitivity to detect several of the constituents of concern at potentially hazardous levels based on values that the US EPA Region 9 had provided to the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board in connection with their bioaccumulation studies of potentially hazardous constituents in San Francisco Bay fish.
I also pointed out that a number of the statements regarding a potential lack of problems based on measured concentrations in water and fish made in the US EPA National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory (NAREL)/ATSDR report were not necessarily valid based on the study program used. There could readily be problems with the parameters mentioned as not causing public health or environmental problems which were not detected by the study program used. Subsequent to submitting my letters on the deficiencies in the original study program and the interpretation of data, the University of California, Davis. L. Vanderhoef administration issued several statements as part of its propaganda efforts to try to prove that its campus domestic wastewater treatment plant was not causing water quality problems in Putah Creek in which the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration used statements from the US EPA NAREL and ATSDR report to claim that no problems were being encountered associated with certain constituents.
The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration has also, in propaganda statements, attempted to discredit the US EPA/ATSDR findings with respect to mercury and lead bioaccumulation in fish to excessive levels based on the fact that the original study used a composite of various types and sizes of fish in their initial screening for potential excessive bioaccumulation. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration in these statements, however, ignored the comments that I had submitted to J. Roth on April 15, 1997 and Dr. William Taylor on May 9, 1997 on the deficiencies in the original US EPA/ATSDR studies in their propaganda statements about how the UCD campus wastewater treatment plant's discharges of partially treated campus wastewaters to Putah Creek near the LEHR site were not having an adverse impact on the beneficial uses of Putah Creek. This situation is typical of the distorted, unreliable information that is released by the L. Vanderhoef administration as factual, but is, in fact, propaganda that is not supported by the facts concerning the impacts of UCD's management of its campus wastes on public health and the environment.
On September 10, 1997, I received a letter from Dr. William Taylor which acknowledged that my assessments as set forth in my April 15, 1997 and May 9, 1997 letters concerning the deficiencies in the US EPA/ATSDR studies on bioaccumulation of potentially hazardous chemicals in Putah Creek were appropriate. As a result, Dr. Taylor states,
"While we did not detect these substances in the fish, the data were not sufficiently sensitive to conclude that these substances were not present at levels that might pose an increased cancer risk to people who would eat the fish over a period of years. We currently believe that levels of the pesticides dicofol, dieldrin, toxaphene, and DDT (and its metabolites) are an indeterminate public health hazard, and PCBs in fish are also an indeterminate public health hazard, based on our data."
This situation provides important background to any future studies of excessive bioaccumulation in Putah Creek fish where it is important to use analytical methods with sufficient sensitivity to be certain to detect the constituents of concern at potentially hazardous levels based on current US EPA Region 9 guidance that has been provided over the past few years for similar situations of protecting public health and the environment.
Dr. Taylor further states:
"Our reevaluation does not change our conclusions regarding elevated mercury and lead in fish. These substances were elevated in some of the fish we collected and we still maintain they pose a public health hazard."
He also states,
"Lead and mercury in fish in Putah Creek will be the focus of our follow up investigation."
Dr. Taylor's comments concerning lead and mercury are appropriate in that, as I have pointed out, the concentrations found based in a mixed population of fish taken from Putah Creek are of significant concern since almost certainly the concentrations in the higher trophic level fish that would be the most likely used as food by those who fish the Creek would be higher than the average concentrations found in the US EPA/ATSDR studies.
I am concerned, however, about Dr. Taylor's statement that the follow up studies would focus on lead and mercury only. The US EPA/ATSDR has not yet conducted a credible study of excessive bioaccumulation for a variety of potential carcinogens that could readily be present in Putah Creek fish which in the previous studies were measured with analytical methods with inadequate sensitivity. Dr. Taylor in his letter states that the analytical methods used by the US EPA were based on Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Physical/Chemical Methods, SW-846, 3rd Edition, Method 8081, and states,
"These methodologies are recommended for use in conducting evaluations and measurements needed to comply with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and appeared to be appropriate for the screening study we planned."
Unfortunately, the screening study planned did not consider the fact that US EPA Region 9/Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board/San Francisco Estuary Institute, in connection with studies on bioaccumulation of these hazardous chemicals in San Francisco Bay fish, had previously evaluated the adequacy of these analytical methods and concluded that they were inadequate to detect the constituents at concentrations that are potentially hazardous to public health through the consumption of organisms as food. As a result, through the San Francisco Estuary Institute contractors, more appropriate analytical methods were used in the San Francisco Bay bioaccumulation studies which did have sufficient sensitivity to measure the constituents of concern at potentially hazardous levels. The situation, therefore, is not one where there is a lack of reliable analytical methods to conduct such analyses at sufficient sensitivity, it is that the US EPA laboratory that is doing this work did not use methods with sufficient sensitivity and evidently does not normally use such methods in bioaccumulation studies. This is not justification, however, for future studies not using appropriate methods.
It also appears that these laboratories are using inappropriate, out-of-date CERCLA guidance values for assessing potential hazards of bioaccumulatable chemicals compared to those that are readily available and are being used by the US EPA Region 9 in non-CERCLA-related activities. Since CERCLA activities should use local ARARS values to judge potentially hazardous conditions associated with chemical constituents found in water and fish tissue, it should be concluded that the use of the CERCLA screening values for hazardous conditions associated with bioaccumulation of chemicals in fish for Putah Creek fish is technically invalid and inappropriate in accord with current CERCLA requirements for protecting public health and the environment based on criteria, standards and guidance values that are used in a particular region by regional or local public health and other regulatory agencies.
UCD has announced that it plans to conduct its own bioaccumulation studies for mercury. They have not, however, made the study plan available for review by the RPMs, DSCSOC and other interested parties. In order for these studies to have credibility, they must be conducted with full public peer review of the proposed sampling and analytical program presentation and interpretation of results, etc. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration should not attempt to conduct another study like it has done in the past where it establishes study conditions and then controls the study plan and reporting of results in such a way as to bias the program to support the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration's previously adopted position on issues that its campus wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff is not adversely impacting beneficial uses of Putah Creek.
The public has justifiably concluded that the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration cannot be relied on to conduct a credible investigation of impacts relating to its campus waste management as they may impact Putah Creek. This justification stems from the so-called cumulative impact studies that the public called for in connection with the permitting of UCD's discharge of its fourth campus landfill leachate-polluted groundwaters to Putah Creek after only minimal treatment involving VOC air stripping. The UCD L. Vanderhoef administration refused to conduct an independent, third-party public peer reviewed evaluation of the cumulative impacts of UCD's campus wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff. Instead, it worked out a behind-the-scenes deal between the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board chairman and executive officer in which a contract study group that must present results in accord with the client's wishes or not receive future support for studies of this type was chosen by UCD to conduct the cumulative impact studies. The results of these studies were first reported as a final report in the draft environmental impact report for the proposed campus wastewater treatment plant expansion. A review of these studies, as I have documented in previous correspondence, shows that they were grossly superficial and did not address cumulative impact issues of concern to the public such as bioaccumulation of lead and mercury or aquatic life toxicity. A few months later, the US EPA ATSDR studies which were initiated at the suggestion of DSCSOC showed that the campus wastewater treatment plant discharge area which is also the area for part of the LEHR site stormwater runoff was the area of Putah Creek which contained fish with excessive concentrations of lead and mercury. Any further studies conducted by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration must be conducted in a full, public peer review arena in order to have credibility with the public. Behind-the-scenes, contrived studies of the type that have been done in the past will not be accepted in the future as being a reliable assessment of water quality issues pertinent to Putah Creek.
Comments on Proposed Follow Up Sampling
and Analysis Guidelines
Page 1, 1.0 "Purpose," first paragraph, the statement is made, "The screening analysis survey indicated levels of lead and mercury in fish tissue which exceeded relevant USEPA screening values for fish and could present a health hazard." That paragraph should include an additional sentence, "A number of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides could also be present in fish tissue taken from Putah Creek at hazardous levels that were not detected in the previous NAREL studies based on NAREL using insufficiently sensitive analytical methods compared to US EPA Region 9 guidance values for determining potentially hazardous concentrations of bioaccumulated chemicals in fish tissue."
Page 1, "Purpose," first paragraph, it is stated, "It was recommended that an additional study be performed to define the concentration of lead and mercury within species and size ranges." While it would be appropriate to do additional studies to assess the magnitude of the potential lead and mercury hazards in Putah Creek fish, there is still need to properly conduct studies on the other chlorinated hydrocarbons that were measured in the previous studies with insufficiently sensitive analytical methods. If these methods cannot be done by NAREL, then they could be done through the San Francisco Estuary Institute contractors who have developed reliable procedures for measuring concentrations of these constituents at potentially hazardous levels based on US EPA Region 9 guidance.
DSCSOC should recommend that the follow-up studies include not only additional studies on lead and mercury, but also a proper screening for all of the chlorinated hydrocarbons of typical concern, including PCBs and dioxins, to ensure that those who consume fish from Putah Creek are not exposed to hazardous concentrations of these constituents. If these studies cannot be done through the US EPA Region 9 re-sampling studies, then the RPMs and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board should require that UCD and DOE conduct appropriate studies of the bioaccumulation issues on Putah Creek fish.
For further information on appropriate analytical methods for the constituents of concern, please contact Dr. J. Davis, San Francisco Estuary Institute, 180 Richmond Field Station, 1325 South 46th Street, Richmond, CA 94804; PH: 510-231-9539, ext 625; FX: 510-231-9414; em: [email protected].
Page 2, first full paragraph, states, "The final report will then be forwarded to ATSDR, with copies sent to the EPA Region 9 laboratory, the EPA Region 9 Superfund Office, and internally at NAREL." Because of the problems with inappropriate data interpretation in the previous NAREL report on Putah Creek fish bioaccumulation issues, it would be appropriate to issue a draft report for review by the RPMs, DSCSOC and the PRPs (DOE and UCD) to provide the opportunity for interested parties to comment on the technical appropriateness of the follow-up studies and thereby possibly minimize the production of yet another report with inaccurate and unreliable information that would be used by the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration as more propaganda on important public health and environmental issues.
Page 2, under "Sample Analysis and Potential Contamination of Concern," the studies on lead and mercury appear to be appropriate, but these studies must be expanded, either through this study or through additional studies funded by the PRPs using appropriate analytical methods to determine whether the constituents that were measured with inadequate analytical methods previously or were not measured at all, such as dioxins, are present at hazardous levels in the fish taken from Putah Creek.
The bottom of page 2, Table 1 presents the detection limits that are proposed for use in the studies. The detection limits for Fish/Crayfish and Soil appear to be adequate. The detection limits for mercury in water are inadequate to measure mercury at concentrations that would potentially bioaccumulate to hazardous levels. The US EPA "Gold Book" water quality criterion for mercury is 12 ng/L. Recently, the US EPA Region 9 has proposed a revised human health-based criterion for mercury of 50 ng/L. It is understood that this raising of the critical level of mercury in water to protect against bioaccumulation is an artifact of new interim procedures that are being used to calculate the hazards of mercury in water based on bioaccumulation in fish tissue and that, ultimately, a concentration in water on the order of 3 to 5 ng/L will be adopted after completion of the US EPA's current national efforts in reviewing the hazards of mercury in the environment. Therefore, in order to be able to state that there are no potential water-related problems due to mercury in water taken from Putah Creek, it is necessary to use an analytical method for mercury in water which has a reliable detection limit of about 2 ng/L. The currently proposed reporting limits in Table 1 on page 2 of 200 ng/L are inadequate for this purpose. While it may not be possible for the NAREL group to measure mercury in water at appropriate levels, it is important that the final report not make the same errors as was done previously of reporting no problems for a particular constituent based on concentrations that are less than the detection limits, when inadequate detection limits were used.
Page 3, section 2.1 "Comparison Values for Metals," the discussion in paragraph 2 of this section reflects a technically inadequate and invalid approach where it is stated, "Mercury in water will be compared to the USEPA Drinking Water Standard level of 2 ppb..." In a situation such as Putah Creek, the critical issue is not drinking the water but bioaccumulation. Concentrations of mercury above about 3 to 5 ng/L are now well-known to potentially bioaccumulate to excessive levels in aquatic life. This issue should be discussed in this report. If it is not, then it will be a technically deficient report and will provide unreliable information to the public on the issue.
Page 3, 2.2 "Comparison Values for Metals," third paragraph, states, "Lead and mercury in sediment will not be compared to any standards." That is an appropriate statement since there are no reliable standards for lead and mercury in sediments. It is important, however, that the error that was made in the previous report of claiming that there were no problems because of the concentrations found not be repeated. As discussed in my previous correspondence, it is impossible to judge whether lead and mercury in sediments in Putah Creek are a problem based on the kinds of studies that have been and are proposed to be conducted. A far more comprehensive, reliable study needs to be conducted to be able to make any interpretation of lead and mercury concentrations in sediment with reference to the potential for bioaccumulation. As I discussed in previous correspondence, finding the concentrations of lead and/or mercury or, for that matter, any other constituent in Putah Creek sediments near where UCD's campus wastewater discharges and LEHR site stormwater runoff occur does not mean that the constituents derived from these sources is not a cause of the excessive bioaccumulation that has been found previously and could be found in future studies. Such an approach assumes that the aqueous environmental chemistry in lead and mercury from these sources is identical to the background lead and mercury chemistry. Those familiar with aquatic chemistry know that such an assumption is technically invalid. There could readily be mercury discharged in the UCD campus wastewater treatment plant or LEHR site stormwater runoff which is in a form that while not contributing significantly to the overall concentrations of lead and mercury in the sediments could readily be an important source of bioaccumulatable lead and mercury. This is especially true for mercury since it is now well-known that there is no relationship between the total mercury content of sediments and the amount that bioaccumulates in fish tissue. The bioaccumulation depends on the specific forms of mercury that are present and a variety of other factors that need to be considered.
Page 3, third paragraph, under "Comparison Values for Metals," in red, my copy states, "WITH THIS IN MIND, SHOULD WE COLLECT AND ANALYZE VEGETATION IN THE CREEK ALSO?" It is my recommendation that rather than collecting vegetation for analysis which will not provide data that are interpretable with respect to lead, mercury or other constituent bioaccumulation issues, that the resources available be devoted to obtaining additional samples and analyses for the wide variety of constituents that have not yet been properly analyzed in fish tissue from Putah Creek near the LEHR site.
Page 3, section 2.1 "Comparison Values for Metals," fourth paragraph, states, "Lead in fish will be compared to the calculated screening value of 0.3 ppm determined in the final report of the initial screening study..." It should be understood that the 0.3 ppm value assumes that the 15 mg/L drinking water value is protective. A critical review of the US EPA's discussion of the reliability of the 15 mg/L drinking water value shows that the Agency believes that it may not be protective under some conditions. The report should discuss these issues, pointing out that the 15 mg/L drinking water value may not be protective and that children who consume large amounts of fish taken from Putah Creek that are at or below the 0.3 ppm screening level that is proposed to be used could be damaged by consumption of these fish.
With respect to the mercury screening value of 0.6 ppm stated in the fourth paragraph on page 3 under section 2.1 "Comparison Values for Metals," this value is inadequate. The value that should be used is the value that was developed by the US EPA Region 9 for consumption of fish in San Francisco Bay. This value is 0.14 ppm. It appears that the NAREL staff are still ignoring the US EPA Region 9 guidance on these issues. This is inappropriate. US EPA Region 9 guidance is, in my opinion, the best guidance available at this time on critical concentrations of mercury in fish tissue for consuming one meal per week.
I have previously provided Dr. William Taylor with a table of values from the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board's bioaccumulation studies on San Francisco Bay "Contaminant Levels in Fish Tissue from San Francisco Bay, Final Report, June, 1995," that present the concentrations of various constituents in fish tissue that the US EPA Region 9 has adopted as guidance on what constitutes excessive concentrations of the constituent at two different fish consumption rates. These values or any updates from these values should be used as the basis for judging excessive concentrations of the analytes of concern.
In reporting the results of bioaccumulation studies, it is important for the analyst to indicate the presence of potentially significant unknown peaks that occur in the GCMS or other analytical procedures that are used. This should be added to this study program as part of the analyses that are done on the chlorinated hydrocarbons.
Page 3, 2.2 "Comparison Concentrations for Hg-203," DHS needs to evaluate whether the approach used herein is appropriate and provide their comments to the RPMs and DSCSOC.
Page 4, 3.1 "Fish Species and Length," states, "Putah Creek contains an excellent collection of both native and introduced species." I question the use of the word "excellent." The author of that statement should state the basis for categorizing the collection of native and introduced species as "excellent." Compared to what? Statements of this type could readily lead to the UCD L. Vanderhoef administration trying to use the word "excellent" before the Regional Board to prove that their wastewater treatment plant and other discharges from the campus are not adversely impacting Putah Creek. That wording should be deleted unless it can be properly documented.
Page 5, first full paragraph, states, "Since the study is designed to determine if target analytes are present in different concentrations based on age (length) of fish, it is desired to collect different size ranges of fish." The issue is not to determine whether the concentrations of mercury or lead change with age (length of fish). This is well-known. The purpose is to determine for various sizes of fish, the actual bioaccumulation that has occurred at the time of sampling.
With respect to the types of fish sampled, the fish sampling should be done on those species that are used as food from Putah Creek in that region. If necessary, appropriate studies should be conducted to determine what people are catching and eating.
It is important to understand that because of the seasonal and flow-related differences, it is possible that studies at this time, especially this year, since the flows in Putah Creek have been elevated compared to previous years and what will likely occur in future years, that tissue concentrations could be found to be non-hazardous this time, but have been hazardous in the past and be hazardous in the future. The bioaccumulation studies on Putah Creek associated with UCD's campus wastewater discharges and stormwater runoff from the LEHR site must be on-going studies done each year for at least half a dozen years to establish for the full suite of constituents of potential concern, including dioxins, whether there is a potential problem of excessive bioaccumulation in the Creek fish. Such studies should be part of the NPDES permits for the campus wastewater discharges to the Creek as well as the LEHR site stormwater runoff NPDES permit monitoring requirements.
Page 5, third paragraph, states that a minimum of four fish samples will be taken at each location. Four fish samples is low compared to the desired number. At least five should be taken.
With respect to the North Fork sampling mentioned on page 6, it is unknown at this time whether the North Fork of Putah Creek has fish that are used for consumption. If it does, then sampling should be done since UCD did dump and continues to discharge stormwater runoff to the North Fork of Putah Creek. Hazardous concentrations of constituents have been found in these waters. If the sampling is not done by the ATSDR/NAREL studies, then this should be done by UCD as part of its NPDES stormwater runoff permit.
Page 7, 3.3.2 "Water Sampling," mentions that particulates will be removed from the samples by filtration. That approach is inappropriate in surveying for potential problems associated with mercury in water as it may lead to bioaccumulation problems. The total mercury and lead as well as other constituents as well as the so-called filtered or dissolved should be analyzed in each sample since part of the particulate forms of these constituents could become available for bioaccumulation in downstream locations.
Page 7, 3.3.3 "Sediment Sampling," mentions that a type of dredge or core will be used. It is important to understand that it does not matter very much what is used for sampling sediments since the sediment data are uninterpretable. Even high concentrations of constituents in sediments does not mean that the sediments are a source of a constituent that bioaccumulates. It is well-known that there is no relationship between sediment concentrations as measured in a study of this type and water quality impacts. If there is interest in trying to understand the role of constituents in sediments as a source of constituents that leads to excessive bioaccumulation then a much more comprehensive, significantly different type of study will need to be conducted. I can provide guidance on those studies should this be of interest. I do not recommend them at this time. They could, however, be necessary at a later date if it is found that sediments may be a source of on-going bioaccumulation problems that could mean that UCD and/or DOE would have to remove the polluted sediments from Putah Creek in order to stop the excessive bioaccumulation problems that are occurring.
The issue of bioaccumulation of hazardous substances in fish is one that I have devoted considerable research and consulting activity over the past 37 years. I have published extensively on this topic. A number of my papers and reports on these and related issues are available from my web site (http://members.aol.com/gfredlee/gfl.htm). If anyone wishes additional information on the issues discussed herein, please contact me.
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