PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
INDUSTRIAL WASTE PROCESSING
PINEDALE, FRESNO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
Industrial Waste Processing (IWP), a small abandoned industrial site, is located in Pinedale, a town to the north of Fresno, California. IWP occupies only about 0.5 acre. It is surrounded by the Pinedale residential district to the north, west, and south, and a large light industrial/commercial area on the east, the former U.S. Army Camp Pinedale.
From 1957 to 1981 the IWP facility recycled solvents and recovered lead solder and zinc from waste solder flux generated by the metal can manufacturing industry. After 1983 the site was used for storage of chemicals and equipment. A large collection of drums, many of them leaking, torn bags of asbestos, and the top six inches of soil were removed in an EPA Emergency Response Action in 1988. The subsoil at the IWP site contains a variety of contaminants, primarily lead, zinc, and volatile organochlorines (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene (TCE).
A plume of groundwater contamination (primarily TCE) appears to extend for almost 2 miles south of municipal well PCWD-3, just south of IWP, where the contamination was first discovered. Maximum contaminant levels have been set for TCE in municipal wells used for drinking water because it is a solvent that has been classified as a probable human carcinogen. Impacted municipal wells have been removed from service. However, some residents were exposed to TCE in their drinking water before it was known that the municipal wells were contaminated with TCE. Because the duration of exposure was limited, however, there is no apparent increased cancer risk for residents who were served by the well with the highest TCE contamination.
The adjoining property on the east, which originally constituted Camp Pinedale and has been an industrial area for many years, is concurrently being investigated as a major contributing source of the groundwater contamination. High concentrations of VOCs (principally TCE) and some heavy metals contaminate the subsoil of the adjacent property. The extent of the subsurface soil contamination on the adjoining property, and on IWP, and the relative contribution of both to the groundwater plume, is still under investigation.
The site is characterized as an Indeterminate Public Health Hazard because the limited available data do not indicate that humans are being or have been exposed to contaminants at concentrations great enough and for durations long enough to cause adverse health effects. However, sampling data are not available for all environmental media.
A series of six fact sheets have been mailed by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to homes in the nearby community since June 1988 to inform the citizens of the emergency cleanup at IWP, the groundwater contamination problem, and the progress toward determination of the source of the TCE contamination. Citizen concerns have been solicited from groups such as the Fresno Neighborhood Alliance. Interviews with community members and mailings to nearby and interested residents should continue to keep the community informed.
The Industrial Waste Processing site is not being considered for follow-up health activities at this time. Community health education activities, however, are ongoing and will continue. This effort involves the preparation of a community newsletter, door to door contact of residents, and meetings with community groups. If additional or new information becomes available suggesting that exposure to hazardous substances at concentrations of public health concern is occurring, ATSDR and the California Department of Health Services will re-evaluate this site for any indicated follow-up health activities.
Industrial Waste Processing (IWP) is located at 7140 North Harrison Street, Pinedale, California. IWP occupies approximately 0.5 acre, and is surrounded by the Pinedale residential district to the north, west, and south, and light industrial/commercial areas directly southeast (see Figures 1 and 2).
IWP recycled solvents from 1957 to 1981. The facility reclaimed glycols from petroleum residues recovered from natural gas field pipelines and chlorinated solvents from waste solvents generated by the paint and ink industries. The facility also recovered lead and zinc from waste solder generated by the metal can manufacturing industry. Solder is a metal alloy that is melted and used to join or patch metal parts or surfaces. From 1977-83, IWP operated as a distributor for Ashland Oil. Chemicals stored at the site included alcohols, benzene, TCE, and PCE. Since 1983, the site has served as storage of chemicals and equipment.
In July 1986, Fresno County and State Department of Toxic Substance Control(1) (DTSC) staff conducted a joint inspection of the facility. The owner identified residues of crude oil, ethylene glycol, and zinc chloride. The rear of the property contained approximately 145 drums (30 and 55 gallon sizes), and a waste pile of solder residue. Also identified were various containers of flammable liquids such as xylene, isopropanol, and naphtha. DTSC representatives collected samples for analysis and, based on their results, the site was placed on the State Bond Expenditure Plan. This plan allows use of bond funds to investigate hazardous waste sites.
In late April and early May of 1988, the local DTSC office received two complaints regarding storage of hazardous wastes at the Pinedale site. Responding to these complaints, DTSC conducted another site inspection. Because of the presence of lead-containing compounds, DTSC contacted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Emergency Response Division. The EPA Emergency Response Team (EPA-ERT) and DTSC conducted a joint inspection on June 7, 1988. They observed piles of waste lead solder flux and broken asbestos bags stored on the ground which were then covered with plastic. Reclaimed solvents stored in open and leaking drums and tanks were also reported. There were many unlabeled drums and containers whose contents were not identified.
EPA conducted an emergency removal action at the IWP site in August 1988 to remove the materials left on the site when IWP ceased operations in 1983. The top six inches of soil were excavated and removed from the site, and the soil was treated with a sealer to prevent dust from blowing. Soil samples collected after the removal action indicated the presence of metals and VOCs at the site.
Groundwater contamination was first discovered in April 1988 when a local land developer had a sample from a municipal well privately analyzed. The well had TCE levels above the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) and was immediately closed. MCLs are enforceable drinking water standards, adopted into regulation by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which must be met by all public drinking water systems to which they apply. The results from this analysis prompted additional sampling of municipal wells in the area. Contaminants have been detected in 17 water supply wells operated by 3 water districts. Six water supply wells have been closed, and a monitoring program for the other wells in the area has been initiated.
The Region 1 (northern California) office of the DTSC is the lead state agency coordinating the investigation of the groundwater contamination. They are installing monitoring wells south of the properties of IWP, Vendo, and the cotton processing facility to define the southern extent or leading edge of the plume. A working cooperation now exists between Vendo, the cotton facility, and the DTSC staff.
In March 1989, DTSC conducted a soil gas sampling survey in the Pinedale area. The properties included in the soil gas survey were IWP, Vendo, and the cotton processing facility.
In May 1990, Vendo retained Geomatrix Consultants to conduct investigations into the source, concentrations, and extent of the groundwater contamination under Vendo and the adjacent cotton facility. Groundwater monitoring wells were installed and the extent of soil and groundwater contamination reported. The cotton processing facility has also installed monitoring wells and has reported preliminary findings of high TCE levels at the top of the aquifer under the property (Project Manager, BSK and Associates, Personal Communication at Pinedale Groundwater Interagency Meeting, August 1990).
A site visit to IWP took place on July 25, 1990. Those attending included the DTSC Region I project officer and community participation representative; a toxicologist and health assessor from CDHS Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology Branch (Susan Knadle, Ph.D. and Jennifer Rous); and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) regional representative (Gwendolyn Eng).
The IWP site is located on the western side of a very large industrial and commercial area bordered by North Harrison Street on the west, Herndon Avenue on the south, Ingram Avenue on the east, and the San Joaquin River on the north. The site is fenced and the gate is locked. Next to IWP on the eastern side of North Harrison Street are a number of small industrial and commercial operations. Directly north of the site is a fenced vacant lot, behind which are sheds belonging to the cotton processing facility. A construction firm is located directly south of the site.
On-site soil contained numerous stained areas which appear wet even on a hot day. The stained soil appears to coincide with soil sampling location B-10, and between B-01 and B-06, shown in Figure 3. A plastic film, covering the site to prevent wind and water erosion, has been damaged by DTSC trucks and drilling equipment. This equipment is stored at the site. The concrete superstructure of the abandoned supply well is visible.
The western side of North Harrison Street and the area west of North Harrison Street contain single-family residences. Minaret Avenue is perpendicular to North Harrison and intersects it directly opposite the IWP site. This street contains recently built single-family residences. Areas to the south and east of the adjacent large industrial and commercial area are also primarily single-family residences, with some shopping areas and multi-family residences. Numerous schools and preschools are scattered throughout these neighborhoods. Nelson Elementary School is directly west on Spruce Avenue, and Tenaya Middle School is farther south at Bullard Avenue where a DTSC monitoring well is being placed. Bullard High School and Gibson School are located a block south at Barstow Avenue (Figure 1).
The cotton processing facility, on the east side of IWP (Figure 2), is on a former fill area. The site contains numerous large aluminum-frame barn-like structures separated by large stretches of bare land. At one spot there are old buildings remaining from the period when a lumber company occupied the site. The area around these buildings is fenced due to the presence of five-deep sink holes.
The Vendo Company occupies an area on the eastern side of the cotton processing facility property. Six one-story aluminum buildings with trailers, surrounded by asphalt or connected by paved roads, and a large parking lot comprise the site. The site appears orderly and active. The Vendo Vice President for Environmental Affairs showed us surface soil areas where VOCs, primarily TCE, had been detected and informed us that further characterization of the extent of the contamination was underway. One sampling location is the railroad track which runs along the property line between the cotton processing facility and Vendo. Old equipment is stored on asphalt near these tracks. At another location where high levels of TCE were found in the soil, Geomatrix was determining the TCE concentrations at successive depths in a monitoring well.
In 1988 it was estimated about 8,000 people live within a mile radius of the site and about 115,000 within a 4-mile radius. The closest home lies approximately 40 feet from the west perimeter of the IWP site. A construction firm lies south of the site, and an empty field on the cotton processing facility property lies adjacent to the site to the north and east. A preschool is located about 300 yards from the IWP site and an elementary school is within 2,000 feet. A junior high school is located 0.5 mile from the site; a nursery school and elementary school are located approximately one mile away.
Land in the vicinity of the IWP site is used for residential and industrial purposes. IWP is located in a large rectangular area which contains the cotton processing and vending machine companies, an old sewage treatment plant, the Kepco Dry Dump, and the Fort Pinedale Disposal Site (see Figure 2). The sewage treatment plant, dump, and disposal site are no longer in operation. This nonresidential area is surrounded on three sides by neighborhoods containing primarily single-family residences and numerous schools. The San Joaquin River runs along the northern edge of the sewage treatment plant and dump. The river is used for recreation and is considered an environmentally sensitive area.
New housing development is occurring in the area. A park is proposed for an area along the river near the former Kepco Dry Dump, as well as a 27-mile river parkway and golf course (Fresno Bee, Jan 19, 1989). The City of Fresno has approved an extension of Palm Avenue northward through the cotton processing facility property to open up the industrial area for residential and commercial development. This road would continue so as to allow access to the proposed San Joaquin River Parkway Project. Two other streets will be extended through this property for purposes of allowing access to the river parkway. The cotton company has proposed various developments for its property, including single-family homes, apartments and condominiums, and over one-million square feet of office and retail space. A 34-acre retail shopping center is proposed for the northeast corner of Palm and Herndon, at the south end of the property (Fresno Bee, March 23, 1989).
NATURAL RESOURCE USE:
The San Joaquin River is a popular fishing and boating area. This corridor contains lush vegetation that is important as habitat for wildlife.
On January 1, 1987, the state's Cancer Surveillance Program began collecting data through the California Tumor Registry for the region that includes Industrial Waste Processing. The CDHS released the data for 1987 and 1988 on February 18, 1991 (California Department of Health Services. "Cancer Incidence and Mortality, California, 1988" California Health and Welfare Agency, 1991; California Department of Health Services. "Cancer Incidence and Mortality, California, 1977". California Health and Welfare Agency, 1991.
The California Birth Defects Monitoring Program began collecting data for Fresno County in 1986.
The pertinence of these two data bases to the Industrial Waste Processing site will be discussed further in the Public Health Implications section of this preliminary health assessment.
In late April and May 1988, the Fresno office of DTSC received two complaints regarding the chemical waste and large collection of deteriorating drums, many of them leaking, at the abandoned IWP site. DTSC staff contacted the EPA Emergency Response Division, and a joint inspection was made on June 7, 1988. DTSC prepared the first fact sheet informing the community about the IWP site and providing phone numbers for citizens to call in June, 1988. A fact sheet in September, 1988 informed citizens of the recently discovered TCE contamination in the wells of the Pinedale County Water District and Fresno City Water Utility area. It also described the EPA Emergency Response team's cleanup activities at the IWP site from June 20 - August 18. Following that fact sheet was a community meeting on October 5, 1988. Four additional fact sheets followed in March 1989, May 1989, March 1990, and June 1990. A public meeting was held in June 1990.
During the site visit July 25, 1990, the DTSC Community Relations Coordinator arranged a meeting with the president of the Fresno Neighborhood Alliance (FNA). She said that the primary concern of the citizens living near the Industrial Waste Processing site was the possibility that lead was transported off site. She also stated that while access to the site was currently restricted by a fence, she was still concerned that children would climb the fence to play on the site or to take a shortcut to Ingram Avenue.
The FNA president reported that the citizens were more concerned about the dibromochloropropane (DBCP) contamination of the groundwater than the TCE contamination. She was concerned because people in the Clovis district had been told to boil their water to get rid of DBCP contamination, and she was aware that this could produce inhalation of both DBCP and TCE. She stated that although there is a higher level of concern about DBCP than TCE, many parents wanted to withdraw their children from a new child-care facility in the area when TCE contamination was found in their water. The school switched to bottled water. She also expressed citizen concerns that a high number of cancer cases could arise in the area.
In August, 1991 the Public Participation staff from the Department of Toxic Substances Control said that there had not been any concerns expressed about IWP since the previous summer when a neighbor across the street was concerned that workers taking samples were on the site in moon suits and complained that the trucks on the site were noisy. After the completion of sampling and installation of monitoring wells, this resident seemed satisfied. A representative of the Fresno Neighborhood Alliance said that she had not heard of any specific complaints and it appeared residents around the site were satisfied with the way the site was being handled.
No comments were received during the public comment period which extended from September 17, 1991 until October 15, 1991. Notification of the public comment period ran in the legal section of the Fresno Bee for two days.
1. Prior to July 1991, the Toxic Substances Control Program was part of the California Department of Health Services (CDHS). Under a July 1991 reorganization forming the California Environmental Protection Agency (CAL EPA), the program became the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) under CAL EPA, and is referenced as such throughout this document.