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PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

PLYMOUTH AVENUE LANDFILL
DELAND, VOLUSIA COUNTY, FLORIDA


SUMMARY

The Plymouth Avenue Landfill is about 1.75 miles west of the City of DeLand in rural western Volusia County, Florida. Volusia County owns this landfill and operates it under its Department of Solid Waste Management. From 1971 to 1988 it was a Class I landfill and received all types of nonhazardous industrial and municipal solid waste. From June 1978 to October 1980, the landfill reportedly received 4,500 gallons per week of process waste slurry from the Brunswick Corporation. This waste contained nitrate up to 90,000 milligrams per liter. The Volusia County Department of Solid Waste Management found elevated levels of nitrate in on-site monitor wells. They also found elevated levels of nitrate in off-site private drinking-water wells. Some nearby residents are concerned that ingestion of contaminated ground water made them sick.

We selected the following contaminants of concern: barium, chromium, 1,2-dichloroethene, iron, nitrate, sulfate, and vinyl chloride. Ingestion of ground water is a past completed human exposure pathway. Concentrations of the contaminants of concern found so far are unlikely to have caused illnesses in the nearby residents. Analysis of water samples has been inadequate, however, to assess the public health threat from ingestion of sulfate, giardia, or vinyl chloride. There were no infants younger than six months old in homes with wells having nitrate concentrations greater than 10 milligrams per liter. Therefore, we do not expect there were any cases of methemoglobinemia or "blue baby syndrome."

Based on the information currently available, we classify the public health hazard at this landfill as indeterminate. Groundwater sampling is needed to determine the extent of vinyl chloride contamination. Wells contaminated with giardia or sulfate may have caused diarrhea and other digestive problems in nearby residents. We recommend the Volusia County Department of Solid Waste Management sample the nearby private drinking-water wells and analyze for nitrate and vinyl chloride. If nearby residents experience diarrhea again, we recommend the Volusia County Public Health Unit sample their wells and analyze for coliform bacteria and possibly giardia.

The ATSDR Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) evaluated the data and information developed in this preliminary public health assessment. The Panel determined that no follow-up health activities are currently needed because there is no evidence that people have been exposed to contaminants from this landfill at concentrations likely to affect their health. If information becomes available indicating exposure at levels of concern, the ATSDR will evaluate that information to decide what actions, if any, are necessary.


BACKGROUND

In this public health assessment, the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (Florida HRS), in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), evaluates the public health significance of the Plymouth Avenue Landfill. Specifically, Florida HRS decides whether health effects are possible and recommend actions to reduce or prevent them. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) authorizes the ATSDR to conduct public health assessments at hazardous waste sites. The ATSDR, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A. Site Description and History

The Plymouth Avenue Landfill is on the north side of Plymouth Avenue just east of Grand Avenue in western Volusia County, Florida (Figure 1, Appendix A). This area, about 1.75 miles west of the City of DeLand, is sparsely populated. The Volusia County Department of Solid Waste Management (DSWM) operates a general permit landfill on this 131-acre site and currently receives only yard trimmings and construction debris. The landfill is bounded on the east by Ridgewood Drive, on the south by Plymouth Avenue. It is bounded on the west by Grand Avenue, and on the north by the Volusia County Humane Society and a fernery. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed adding the three (3) sludge cells on the eastern edge of the landfill to the National Priorities List of Superfund hazardous waste sites. In this assessment we consider the entire 131-acre landfill. The landfill has considerable topographic variation dominated by a water-filled depression in the center (Figure 2, Appendix A).

Volusia County owns this landfill and operates it under its Department of Solid Waste Management (DSWM). Starting sometime in the early 1940s until 1971, the landfill was an open dump. We do not know what was disposed of in the landfill during this period. From 1971 to 1988 it was a Class I landfill and received all types of nonhazardous industrial and municipal solid waste. Between June 1978 and October 1980, the landfill reportedly received 4,500 gallons per week of Brunswick Corporation process waste slurry. Brunswick generated the waste from a nitric acid process for polishing steel. This waste contained nitrate up to 90,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) (BWA 1992). The Volusia County DSWM spread the waste over an undisturbed area in the southeast corner of the landfill or deposited it into shallow trenches also in the southeast corner of the landfill. In 1980, Brunswick switched to a sulfuric acid process. From September 1980 through August 1988, Volusia County DSWM constructed three disposal cells on the east side of the landfill. These cells received about 900 pounds per day of the slurred sulfuric acid process waste (also known as iron sulfate/calcium sulfate waste). Both the nitric acid and sulfuric acid wastes contained nickel, chromium, and copper. In 1988, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) (formerly the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation) reclassified this site as a Class-III landfill. In 1993, Florida DEP reclassified the site as a general permit landfill. Since then, the Volusia County DSWM has only accepted yard trimmings and construction debris at this landfill.

In February 1987, Volusia County DSWM found concentrations of nitrate in monitor wells along the southeast landfill boundary that violated ground-water and drinking-water standards. In June 1987, Volusia County DSWM sampled water from 40 nearby private drinking-water wells and analyzed for nitrate. They found elevated nitrate concentrations in 20 wells, two of which violated the nitrate drinking-water standard. The Volusia County Public Health Unit (CPHU) warned residents at these two homes not to allow infants less than six months old to drink this water. Nearby residents formed the Environmental Civic Highland Organization (ECHO) and complained of illness from drinking contaminated ground water. Once a month from January 1988 to February 1989, the Volusia County DSWM sampled five to six nearby private wells and analyzed for nitrate.

In January 1989, the Florida DEP reviewed the existing environmental data and recommended an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspection (DEP 1989). Later that year, the Volusia CPHU found low levels of benzene and vinyl chloride in the Volusia County Humane Society drinking-water well north of the landfill. The Volusia CPHU also sampled 12 nearby private drinking-water wells and analyzed for gasoline components but did not find any contamination. In 1990, the EPA inspected the landfill and found elevated levels of nitrate and some metals in the ground water. The EPA then recommended ranking the landfill for inclusion on the Superfund hazardous waste site National Priorities List (NPL). In a November 1992 report, Volusia County DSWM consultants recommended recovery of the nitrate contaminated ground water for on-site use. The EPA proposed adding the three (3) sludge cells on the eastern side of the landfill to the Superfund NPL in May 1993. Also in May, the Volusia CPHU sampled 11 nearby private drinking-water wells and analyzed for gasoline components but did not find any contamination. In August 1993, the Volusia CPHU sampled six nearby private drinking-water wells and analyzed for metals. They found elevated nitrate concentrations in five of the samples, one above the drinking-water standard. The Volusia County DSWM plans to sign a consent agreement with the EPA and agree to collect and analyze additional soil and ground-water samples. The Volusia County DSWM also plans to prepare an engineering evaluation and cost analysis for EPA review. This report will detail the County's plan to extract nitrate contaminated ground water for on-site irrigation. The County plans to eventually build a golf course at this site.

On June 29, 1994 Florida HRS mailed fact sheets to 40 nearby residents. These fact sheets summarized this preliminary public health assessment and solicited their comments. We did not receive any comments by July 29, the end of the public comment period.

B. Site Visit

Randy Merchant of the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS) visited this landfill on July 30, 1993. He toured the landfill and the surrounding area with a representative of the Volusia County DSWM. Mr. Merchant noted that a chain-link fence surrounds the landfill and an attendant checks incoming vehicles. He noted the Volusia County DSWM has covered the three disposal cells on the east side of the landfill with grass. Mr. Merchant also observed the location of the on-site monitor wells. Storm water run-off from the landfill appears to collect in a large depression in the middle of the landfill. Mr. Merchant noted houses bordering the east side of the landfill and a fernery and large excavation south of the landfill. He observed undeveloped land west of the landfill and the Volusia County Humane Society and a fernery north of the landfill. During his visit, Mr. Merchant did not collect any environmental samples.

Mr. Merchant visited the area around the landfill again on February 24, 1994. He was available at the County Administration Building between 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. to meet concerned citizens. The EPA project manager for this site and representatives from the Volusia County DSWM and the Volusia CPHU were also available to answer questions. Two concerned citizens attended the availability session to ask questions and/or voice their concerns about the landfill.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

We estimate that in 1990, about 1,400 people lived within 1.5 miles of this landfill. We base our estimate on 1990 census data for tract #902.01 in Volusia County (BOC 1990). This census tract extends about 1.5 miles east, south, and west of the landfill and about 7 miles north. Residents in this census tract are overwhelmingly white (94%) with small black (4%) and Hispanic (4%) minorities. The population is mostly middle aged: the median age is 41 and 79% are 18 years or older. Most of the 2,831 houses in this tract are occupied by their owners. Median yearly family income in this tract is about $35,046 (BOC 1990). We assume the population demographics near the landfill are similar to the rest of the census tract.

Land Use

Land use within the vicinity of this landfill is primarily agricultural and residential. There are several small fern nurseries and citrus groves in the area. To the north of the landfill are the Volusia County Humane Society, a fern nursery, and a few homes. One resident north of the landfill raises horses. To the east are residences and small citrus groves. One parcel of land on the northeast side of the landfill was used in the past for commercial chicken farming. To the south are a clay mine and a fern nursery. West of the landfill are an abandoned citrus grove and undeveloped woods. The Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge is about 1.5 miles west of the landfill.

The nearest house is about 250 feet east of the landfill boundary. There are no commercial day-care centers, schools, or hospitals within one mile of the landfill.

Natural Resource Use

The Volusia County DSWM currently only accepts yard trimmings and construction debris at this general permit landfill. There is no evidence of trespassing or other activities (hunting, fishing, etc.) on the landfill.

Homes and businesses near this landfill all rely on ground water from the Floridan aquifer as a source of drinking water and other domestic uses. We estimate there are between 50 and 100 private drinking-water wells within 0.5 mile of the landfill. Most of these well are to the east and southeast. One and three-quarters miles southeast of the landfill is the nearest public water supply well. The Volusia County Humane Society's drinking-water well is within 50 feet of the landfill's northern boundary. In 1990, the Florida DEP installed a carbon filter on this well to remove low level solvent contamination.

D. Health Outcome Data

We did not evaluate health outcome data for this landfill. See the Public Health Implications, Community Health Concerns Evaluation section later in this report for details.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

In 1988, one nearby resident complained to the EPA of foul tasting well water and digestive problems. This resident said that other nearby residents had (unspecified) health problems that lasted until they ceased drinking water from their wells. Another nearby resident complained that although they have not become ill, their horses have failed to breed as expected.

On February 15, 1994, we mailed letters to 40 nearby residents soliciting their health concerns and inviting them to a February 25 availability session. The EPA advertised this availability session in the Daytona News-Journal on February 20 and 23. Two nearby residents attended this availability session. One resident, who lives about 0.1 mile east of the landfill, complained that she and her husband experienced diarrhea for over six months. She said that their physician was unable to diagnose the cause but their symptoms ceased when they switched to bottled water. The other nearby resident, who lives about 0.25 mile south of the landfill, mentioned that her husband had died of cancer (melanoma) and her doctor successfully treated her for breast cancer. She was unsure if the landfill caused her family's health problems.

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