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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

BRIDGEPORT RENTAL AND OIL SERVICE
LOGAN TOWNSHIP, GLOUCESTER COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

SUMMARY

The 30 acre Bridgeport Rental and Oil Services, Inc. (BROS) site is located in southwest New Jersey, Logan Township, approximately 1 mile east of the town of Bridgeport and about 2 miles south of the Delaware River.

Groundwater and surface soils at the BROS site have been contaminated as a result of the mismanagement of large quantities of waste oil and other fluids. A second superfund site, Chemical Leaman Tank Lines, Inc., is located near the BROS site and may be contributing to groundwater contamination within the BROS study area.

Groundwater in the top two aquifers has been impacted by significant levels of contaminants. The contaminants include, among others: volatile organic compounds (VOC's), such as methylene chloride, trichloroethene, benzene, and vinyl chloride; semi-volatile organic compounds, bis (2-chloroethyl) ether; metals, lead and chromium; and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Past exposure of residents living near the BROS lagoon to VOC's in residential well water is likely to have occurred from before 1983 through 1987. In the past, VOC's had migrated from the BROS lagoon through the shallow groundwater system. Before connections to the public water supply were completed, all of the known residents in the area were supplied with bottled water for drinking and other domestic purposes. A permanent source of water to 33 of these residents was provided by extension of the public water supply pipeline in April 1987.

The full expanse of the contamination plume at the BROS site has not been totally characterized. Groundwater contamination has been documented in off site monitoring wells and has been estimated to have moved as much as a mile from the site towards the southeast. It is not known the extent to which residents may have used this water in the past, how it is presently used, or how it may be used in the future.

It is possible that there are residents who are downgradient from the BROS lagoon who drank water from contaminated private wells and were chronically exposed to contaminants in those wells.

Based upon information reviewed, the BROS Site is considered a public health hazard because of past exposures, and is currently considered an indeterminate public health hazard. Human exposure to site related contaminants has occurred in the past. The indeterminate nature of the current health hazard is based on the fact that site related contaminants are migrating off-site and may have contaminated groundwater in an area where residential wells are in current use. The contaminants detected in this groundwater are of sufficient concentrations as to constitute a public health hazard. ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel has evaluated the BROS site to determine appropriate follow-up health actions. The panel determined that community health education is needed; however, the level of educational activity will be determined by the NJDOH following an evaluation of, among other factors, comments received during the public comment period for this public health assessment. Since no comments were received during the public comment period, no community health education is planned at this time. The NJDOH and ATSDR will consider performing a health consultation after new information regarding groundwater contamination is released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

Groundwater and surface soils at the Bridgeport Rental and Oil Services, Inc. (BROS) site have been contaminated as a result of the mismanagement of large quantities of waste oil and other fluids. Groundwater in the top two aquifers has been impacted by significant levels of contaminants. The contaminants include, among others: volatile organic compounds (VOC's), such as methylene chloride, trichloroethene, benzene, and vinyl chloride; semi-volatile organic compounds, bis (2-chloroethyl) ether; metals, lead and chromium; and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A groundwater contaminant plume is suspected to have moved as much as a mile southeast of the site.

Due to the contamination of drinking water wells near the BROS site, first identified in the early 1980's, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) supplied an alternate water supply to 33 affected residents. A permanent source of water to these residents was provided by extension of the public water supply pipeline in April 1987.

In the early 1970's, the eastern dike of the BROS lagoon was breached and an adjacent 3 acre area was covered with a superficial layer of PCB contaminated oil.

In the spring of 1981, the level of the lagoon again threatened to overflow the dike. In response to the threat, the U.S. Coast Guard increased the height of the dike by 5 feet. When the dike again threatened to overflow in 1982 and 1983, the EPA took emergency action to lower the level of the lagoon by pumping and treating the aqueous phase layer and discharging the treated material into the Little Timber Creek.

The BROS site was included on the EPA's National Priorities List (NPL) in 1983. A Phase 1 Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was conducted in 1983 and 1984 (1), and a Record of Decision (ROD) was signed in 1984 approving remedial activity at the site. EPA is currently performing a detailed Phase 2 RI/FS to determine the nature of the extent of the groundwater contamination and to evaluate remedial alternatives.

Remedial activities have included the demolition and removal of approximately 100 tanks and process vessels used to store hazardous wastes; off-site disposal of about 400,000 gallons of oils and sludges taken from the tanks; demolition and off-site disposal of buildings, drums, and other site debris; and the construction and operation of an aqueous wastewater treatment system (AWTS). In addition, an on-site transportable incinerator has been setup on the site. The incinerator is being used for the thermal destruction of the approximately 5000 cubic yards of PCB contaminated lagoon surface oil , and the 80,000 to 100,000 cubic yards of contaminated sludges, sediments, soils, and levee material.

The listed activities were implemented through an interagency agreement between USEPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE). The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy (NJDEPE) provides support to the USEPA.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has been involved with this site in the past. A Health Assessment was preformed by the agency in March 1986 (2) and an Addendum to the Health Assessment was completed on August 9, 1991 (10). This addendum evaluated data collected in and adjacent to Swindell Pond. The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), in cooperation with ATSDR, completed a Site Review and Update (SRU) on September 2, 1992 that recommended the site be revaluated through the public health assessment process.

The 30 acre BROS site is located in southwest New Jersey, Logan Township, approximately 1 mile east of the town of Bridgeport and about 2 miles south of the Delaware River (Figure # 1). The site borders an active peach orchard on its western edge. Located on Cedar Swamp Road, it's northern border, BROS is situated at the point where Route 130 and Interstate 295 diverge. The eastern edge of the site is a swampy area leading to the Little Timber Creek. Two "man-made" ponds are found adjacent to the lagoon, south and south west of the site (Figure # 2).

The site was originally a sand and gravel pit in the 1930's, and there is evidence of waste disposal activities beginning in the 1950's. When the current owners acquired the site in the late 1960's the site was already a waste oil storage and recovery operation. Today, waste handling activities are prohibited at the site by court order. Before remediation began, the site consisted of a tank Farm, drums, tank trucks and an approximately 13 acre waste oil lagoon. The lagoon was up to 25 feet deep in certain locations, with the bottom 13 feet of the lagoon in contact with the ground water. The liquid in the lagoon is divided into three phases including: an oily layer with drums, trash, and other debris floating in it; an aqueous layer; and sludge/sediment deposits on the bottom. At one time it was estimated that there were about 2.5 million gallons of oil in the lagoon. The depth of the sludge layer was estimated to be between 2 and 4 feet. Sampling of the oil and the sludge layers revealed average PCB concentrations in excess of 500 ppm. Beneath the sludge layer are contaminated groundwater and soils. Most of the oil has been removed from the lagoon and the water level has been lowered by pumping from 8.5 to 3.0 feet below mean sea level. The water level during remediation is held at or slightly below the natural water level in the superficial aquifer (Upper Potomac-Raritan-Magothy [PRM] Aquifer). The treated water is discharged to the Little Timber Creek and is monitored to ensure acceptable effluent standards. Contaminated soils excavated from the site are incinerated in the on-site thermal destruction facility.

Access to the BROS site is strictly limited. There is tall chain-link fence surrounding the entire site. The entrance to the on-site areas is controlled by a security guard.

B. Actions Implemented during the Health Assessment Process

Since the completion of the data review for this site, March 31, 1993, there have been no additional actions implemented. The remedial work is continuing with a few minor incidents reported. These include: the discovery of additional contamination and short term release of organic vapor while workers were digging in the western levee of the lagoon; and the discovery of an apparent human hip bone in the same area.

C. Site Hydrogeology

The BROS lagoon is underlain by three aquifers and three confining units as follows: the Upper Potomac-Raritan-Magothy (PRM) Aquifer; an intermediate confining unit; the Middle PRM Aquifer; a continuous clay confining unit; the lower PRM Aquifer; and a basal confining unit defined by the Wissahikon Formation (Figure # 3). Only the Upper and Middle PRM aquifers have been investigated as part of the Phase II RI/FS (4). In order to accurately address the vertical and horizontal migration of contaminants from the lagoon, the middle PRM Aquifer has been separated into the Upper Middle PRM and the Lower Middle PRM Aquifers.

D. Site Visit

NJDOH (J. Pasqualo, N. P. Singh, and J. Winegar), ATSDR (A. Block and S. Jones; Region II), USEPA (Region II) and Gloucester County Health Department personnel visited the BROS site on December 1, 1992. The site was well secured with a chain-link fence, guarded, and posted with warning signs. The on-site area actually consists of two distinct areas: an administrative area consisting of numerous large office trailers; and an inner exclusion zone surrounding the lagoon itself where remediation is taking place. Both of these regions were examined during our visit. During our visit the following observations were made:

    • The site is undergoing active remediation;


    • The large storage lagoon was obviously heavily contaminated and stained with oil, with the level of the fluid approximately 10-15 feet below the lip of the levee;


    • In the eastern portion of the lagoon numerous steel drums were observed in and protruding from the oil. Each drum appears to have been punctured. In addition, there is a tanker trailer, trash, and a partially submerged boat in this section;


    • There is an aqueous wastewater treatment system (AWTS) and a large mobile thermal destruction facility located near the north east corner of the lagoon. The AWTS facility pumps and treats the aqueous layer of the lagoon to keep the level at or below the water table in the surface aquifer and to remove volatile organic and inorganic contaminants. The treated water is discharged into the Little Timber Creek. The incinerator is used to burn oil, contaminated soil, and sediments from the lagoon. At the time of our site visit the incinerator was not operating due to a dispute between two of the subcontractors;


    • On the north side of the lagoon were two large piles of incinerated soil and ash. This material is stockpiled and being used as part of the back fill material for the lagoon;


    • Backfilling with a mixture of incinerated soil, clean fill, and cement mix, has begun in a small area in the south west corner of the lagoon;


    • The area contaminated by a previous levee breach northeast of the lagoon has just been cleared of trees and brush as part of the initial remediation of this area. The perimeter fence has been extended around this region;


    • There is an active peach orchard directly adjacent to the western border of the lagoon;


    • South and south west of the BROS lagoon, within 100 feet, are two "man-made" ponds, known as Swindell Pond and Gaventa Pond, respectively. According to the local health officials, the ponds are used for swimming and fishing;


    • Several residences were noticed about 800 feet north of the site. A single residence was observed about 150 feet to the west.


    • At the north east corner of Gaventa Pond, the point closest to the BROS Lagoon, a oil boom was noticed in the corner. There was an obvious oil slick on the lagoon side of the boom. There were also several drums of unknown origin noticed in the pond; and


    • The land area just south of the lagoon, and between the two ponds, showed evidence of human activity. Off-road bike tracks were visible throughout this area. Closer to Swindell Pond there was an area noticed where persons have been building campfires and drinking. This area was littered with beer cans.

Information received from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's site manager in March 1995 indicates that no major physical changes to the site conditions, except that remediation efforts are further along, have occurred since the 1992 NJDOH site visit.

E. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resources Use

Demographics

The population of Logan Township was listed as 5,147 in the 1990 U.S. census. The Township consists of approximately 15,369 acres in northwest Gloucester County, New Jersey and consists of the following towns: Bridgeport; Gibbstown; Paulsboro; Swedesboro Repaupo; and Beckett. A large percentage of the residents are employed by the local industries.

There is at least one daycare center known to be near the BROS site. The facility is located approximately 1/4 mile south and west of the site (Figure # 4, Residential Well #44).

Land Use

The area surrounding the BROS site is predominately rural and agricultural. There is an active peach orchard adjacent to the western border of the site. A truck repair garage is located about 300 feet north east of the site and there are three homes about 800 feet north.

Approximately 1/2 of Logan Township is undeveloped, including marshes, vegetated areas, and woodlands. About 5,200 acres of the Township are covered by privately owned farms that cultivate vegetable crops and fruit. About 500 acres of land is devoted to residential use.

There is another EPA Superfund site located approximately 1200 feet west of the BROS Site (Figure # 5). This site is known as the Chemical Leaman Tank Lines Site (CLTL), and it occupies 31.4 acres in Logan Township. The site includes a 14.1 acre tanker washing terminal, which has been operating since 1960. Contamination of the soil and the groundwater as a result of CLTL's activities has been confirmed. Contaminants largely consist of volatile organic compounds (VOC's).

Natural Resources Use

Residents near the BROS site use groundwater from either private wells or public water supplies for drinking and other household uses. As noted previously, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) supplied an alternate water supply to 33 residents who reside just north of the site after it was first identified that their water was being contaminated by BROS. A permanent source of water was provided by extension of the public water supply pipeline by April 1987. Most of the residents to the south of the site, including those to the southeast in the projected path of the contamination plume moving in the upper middle aquifer, are utilizing private wells. Both the Upper PRM and Upper Middle PRM aquifers are used for this water source (private water). It is believed that most of these wells draw from the upper PRM aquifer (5).

Seven municipal supply wells lie within 4 miles of the BROS site. Five of the wells are screened within the Middle PRM; however, none of the wells appear to lie within the path of the BROS contaminant plume. Penns Grove Water Company wells in Bridgeport are hydraulically upgradient of the site. The Purulent Water Company wells, which lie southwest of BROS along Raccoon Creek, are hydraulically cross-gradient and are more than 3 miles away.

Only four private wells proximal to the BROS site are screened within the Middle PRM and appear to lie hydraulically downgradient and in the path of the contaminant plume. Wells 40, 43, 44, and 61 (Figure # 4) are screened within the Middle PRM and lie within 1 mile of the southwest boundary of the site. The remaining domestic wells lying to the south-southeast and proximal to the site are screened in the Upper PRM aquifer and surficial Cape May Formation.

There is an active peach orchard directly adjacent to the western border of the lagoon, which according to the local health department, sells peaches for local consumption. It seems likely, although not documented, that water from Gaventa Pond is used as irrigation water for the peach orchard.

According to the Gloucester County Health Department (personal communication) local residents use the two "man-made" ponds, known as Swindell Pond and Gaventa Pond respectively, for swimming and fishing. No information exists, however, on the number of persons swimming or fishing in the area.

The Little Timber Creek flows north along the eastern edge of the BROS site and discharges into a small drainage ditch through a tidal gate north of Route 44. It eventually drains into an unnamed tidal channel that runs along the western edge of Cedar Swamp. Water in the tidal channel finally flows into the Delaware River.

F. Health Outcome Data

There are multiple sources of health outcome data in New Jersey. State and local data for heath outcome information include the New Jersey State Cancer Registry, Birth Defects Registry, Vital Statistics Records, Renal Dialysis Network, and Hospital Discharge Reports. Federal databases such as those maintained by the agencies within the US Department of Health and Human Services (i.e., National Cancer Institute, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and ATSDR) are not site-specific, but may be used for comparison or evaluation purposes.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Initially, the public was most concerned about drinking water contamination in the direct vicinity of the BROS lagoon, particularly north and west of the site. They were also upset with the amount of time the study of the site was taking before actual remediation of the site was to take place. They felt action should be taken immediately.

A recent well inventory (October 1992) of domestic/residential, commercial, and municipal supply wells that lie towards the south and southeast of the site has generated and renewed local community concern regarding contaminated drinking water. This survey was conducted by the USEPA.

In general, the public was opposed to the idea of on-site incineration. This was due, in part, to negative experience that they had with a nearby hazardous waste incinerator, and a perception that incineration is a poor and inefficient technology.

At least one local resident who lives about 800 feet north of the BROS lagoon had complained about odors emanating from the site.

The owner of Swindell Pond has, in the past, expressed concern about possible contamination of his pond by the adjacent BROS lagoon.

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