Name:

Athens Grain Elevator/Oakwood Mobile Home Park

Brief background of site:

This site is located on Camak Drive, behind the grain silos, near the intersection of Jefferson Road and Jefferson River Roads. The investigation of this site was initiated after Jarrett McElheney, a four-year-old boy living in Oakwood Mobile Park Home, was diagnosed with childhood leukemia (ALL- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) in December of 1998. After watching the movie, A Civil Action, Jarrett's mother, Jill McElheney began to investigate the water from the park's well. Jill took samples to the University of Georgia and to the Environmental Protection Division for analysis. Results concluded that the groundwater was contaminated with carbon tetrachloride, benzene, chloroform, and other toxic chemicals. More specifically, carbon tetrachloride was found in the amount of 107 parts per billion, almost 21 times the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) allowed by the government. Within the next couple of weeks, residents of Oakwood Home Mobile Park were switched from well water to municipal water. ( In October 2002, the latest sampling of groundwater, 40 ug/l of carbon tetrachloride were present, compared to the EPA's MCL of 5 ug/l.) Though none of the contaminants in the soil and water analysis are found to be directly linked to ALL, some have been associated with other types of leukemia and blood disorders. It should be noted that due to the youth of the field of environmental science, long-term studies have not been conducted on the effects of carbon tetrachloride on humans.

At one time, carbon tetrachloride was used to fumigate the grain elevators in order to kill rodents. Therefore, it was originally the prime suspect for the source of the pollutants. However, extensive tests found no source on the grain elevator site. Curiously, the site is listed on the Hazardous Site Inventory at "Athens Grain Elevator/Oakwood Mobile Home Park." After the grain elevator tests showed no leakage of hazardous substances, attention was turned to the petroleum storage tanks adjacent to the grain elevators on Jefferson Road. Owned by BP-Amoco and Trans-montaigne, Southeast Terminals was responsible for a diesel fuel leak in April of 1991, and an accidental spill of an unknown quantity of petroleum-contaminated water from November 1993- March 1995. Monitoring wells have found up to 2 inches of petroleum floating on top of the groundwater. Since at least 1943, this site has been home to a major gasoline distributor for Northeast Georgia.

Oakwood Home Mobile Park, since abandoned, was comprised of a mostly Hispanic population. Many of them were transient, probably were not exposed to the polluted water for an extended period of time, and would be hard to locate for long-term health studies. The source of the pollutants has yet to be identified. Investigation is still underway although it has slowed considerably due to state budget constraints.
Location:

3490 Old Jefferson Road, Athens, GA 30607

Nearest Resident: Less than 300 feet.

Owner/Last Know Owner: Henry C. & Syble H. Smith, 120 Oakwood Trace, Athens, GA 30607
Chemicals Released:

Primary hazardous substance present in the soil: carbon tetrachloride

This release exceeds the Environmental Protection Division's reportable quantity .

Nearest Resident: Less than 300 feet.

Site access: unlimited

Other hazardous substances in groundwater: 1,2-dichloroethane, benzene, chloroform, trichloroethene.

Amount released: The last water tests conducted in 2002 revealed that carbon tetrachloride 40ug/l of carbon tetrachloride was found in the groundwater.

Source of pollutant(s): Unknown. Although the Athens Grain Elevators was originally the suspected source, study results have turned attention a petroleum storage tank owned by Southeast Terminals.

Level of dangerousness: The Maximum Contaminant Level determined by the EPD for carbon tetrachloride in groundwater is 5ug/l (what does ug/l stand for?). The last water tests conducted in 2002 revealed that carbon tetrachloride 40ug/l of carbon tetrachloride was found in the groundwater.

Scope/reach of chemical: unknown

EPD's clean-up priority: Class II, EPD Director's determination regarding corrective action: pending

Clean-up status: Investigations are being conducted to determine how much cleanup is necessary for source materials, soil, and groundwater.

Medium: groundwater
Back to Hazardous Sites page