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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
HORSESHOE ROAD
SAYREVILLE, MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY


SUMMARY

The Horseshoe Road site is an area of approximately 15 acres located on Horseshoe Road near the Raritan River in northern Sayreville, Middlesex County, New Jersey. The site consists of distinct areas that have been grouped together and are considered one site on the National Priorities List (NPL). These areas include: (1) Atlantic Resources, which also includes The Horseshoe Road Dump area; (2) Atlantic Development; and (3) The Sayreville Pesticide Dump. Numerous owners have disposed of waste materials indiscriminately throughout the area for at least the years between 1972 and 1985.

Studies of soil contamination at the Horseshoe Road site were conducted by the USEPA. Results of the chemical analysis of these soil samples indicate that the sampled area was heavily contaminated with a wide variety of VOC's, phenols, PAH's, pesticides, PCB's, and inorganic compounds, including metals.

The heaviest contamination appears to be closer to the buildings and inside the fences. There is, however significant areas of contamination outside restricted areas. Of particular concern in these accessible areas are: PCB's (660 ppm); pesticides, eg., DDD (160 ppm), DDT (450 ppm), aldrin (190 ppm), endosulfan (380 ppm), and heptachlor (18 ppm); PAH's, eg., benzo(g,h,i)perylene (350 ppm); and metals, e.g., arsenic (1,971 ppm), chromium (2,900 ppm), and lead (471 ppm).

Although there are presently no completed human exposure pathways at the site, trespassers constitute a potential exposure pathway.

Because the aforementioned contaminated areas are outside of the two fenced in zones, it is possible that site trespassers, such as hunters, would be exposed to contaminated areas of the site, particularly of the western edge of the site and the Horseshoe Road Dump section. These are areas of documented soil contamination and potentially contaminated surface water flows off the site through these unsecured areas. Exposures could occur following direct skin contact with contaminated soil or through inhalation of dust created by vehicles, particularly during dry weather. Based on available information, recurrent trespassers at the site are not likely to be exposed to contamination at concentrations sufficient to constitute a public health hazard.

The full extent of the surface soil (0-3"), sediment, and surface water contamination in the area has not been delineated; contamination may extend into "off-site" soils.

All residents and businesses in the area are currently connected to municipal water supply, however, the use of potentially contaminated groundwater for non-potable domestic or industrial purposes is not known and may represent a potential health risk. The existence and location of private wells, which may be influenced by the site, should be confirmed and their potential for contamination reviewed, if necessary.

Although no data were available on surface water and sediment contamination, is likely the site is and has caused the release of site related contaminants to the Raritan River. The site may contribute to an overall degeneration of water quality and biota contamination of the Raritan River in the region of the site.

On the basis of the information reviewed, the ATSDR and NJDOH have concluded that the Horseshoe Road Site currently constitutes an indeterminate public health hazard. Except for the comprehensive study of the on-site surface soil, there are no other significant environmental data available to make a determination as to the existence of currently completed human exposure pathways. The ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel has reviewed this preliminary public health assessment and has determined that no follow-up health activities are indicated at this time. However, the panel did recommend that further access restrictions be placed around contaminated areas to prevent any potential exposures to trespassers. The NJDOH conducted a comment period for the Preliminary Public Health Assessment from September 23, 1994 to October 28, 1994.

BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History1

The Horseshoe Road site is an area of approximately 15 acres located on Horseshoe Road near the Raritan River in northern Sayreville, Middlesex County, New Jersey (Figure 1 and 2). The site itself is remote however, the area around the site is densely populated and includes residential, business, commercial and industrial areas.

The site consists of four distinct areas that have been grouped together and are considered one site on the National Priorities List (NPL). They are considered one site because: (1) while the areas were not necessarily part of the same operation, the potentially responsible parties (PRP's) likely shared the use of the dump areas; (2) contamination is threatening the same groundwater, surface water, and air, and; (3) they are no more than about 1,000 feet apart.

For the purpose of conducting a Pre-Remedial Investigation the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy (NJDEPE) has broken the site into three sub-areas due to past practices and on geographic location. These areas include the following: (1) Atlantic Resources, which also includes The Horseshoe Road Dump area; (2) Atlantic Development; and (3) The Sayreville Pesticide Dump.

    (1) Atlantic Resources1,2

Located at the end of Horseshoe Road, the Atlantic Resources Corporation conducted various industrial operations from 1972 to August, 1985, including: solvent reclamation; hazardous waste incineration; and precious metal recovery (Figure 3). Between 1968 and 1972, the International Recycling Company conducted similar operations at the site. Operations at the Atlantic Resources site ended in 1985 soon after 2,3,7,8 TCDD (Dioxin) was found on the property by NJDEPE.

In an area on the west side of Atlantic Resources known as The Horseshoe Road Dump (Figure 4), is a filled area where it is suspected that drums were/remain buried. The Middlesex County Utilities Authority (MCUA) installed a forced sewer main which cuts through the site near the dump. While the MCUA was digging their trench, they discovered numerous drum fragments. They also noted a strong organic/ester type odor, and the soil and groundwater was very acidic (pH = 2.0).

Included in the Horseshoe Road Dump area is a drainage swale to the northwest, and a wooded knoll which lies to the northeast.

Chemical analysis of drum samples taken from the Horseshoe Road Dump, showed the presence of lead, chromium, cadmium, phenols, phthalates, PCB's, pesticides, acetonitrile and silver cyanide.

There is some documentation that another company, Brodun Chemical, operated on the site in the early 1970's, and may have dumped ammonia into three lagoons.

In addition to precious metal recovery by means of incineration, Atlantic Resources received printed circuit boards, casting sweeps and fines for metal reclamation and refining. Fourteen "reverse platers" were used to dip circuit boards in a sodium cyanide acid baths to release metals into solution. The metals were smelted into ingots.

Employee documentation, collected by NJDEPE, revealed that Atlantic Resources workers were directed to : (1) dump drums of unknown materials into the Raritan River; (2) dump drums of potassium cyanide, nitric, muriatic, and hydrochloric acid, and 30% hydrogen peroxide into the wooded area behind Horseshoe Road; and (3) strip gold and silver with nitric acid at night so that area residents and enforcement agencies would not be alerted by the toxic "ruby red fumes" that are emitted by the process.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) began limited remediation at the site in early 1987. Remedial activities at the site have included: drum and storage tank removal; laboratory chemical removal; and the covering of Dioxin contaminated soil. This section of the site was also stabilized by repairing and adding barbed wire to the fence.

    (2) Atlantic Development1,3

The Atlantic Development area is comprised of three buildings (referred to as: Atlantic Development; Sayreville Compounding; and Clover Chemical), and numerous storage tanks (Figure 4). Between the years 1965 and 1981, many companies have conducted a variety of operations at these sites. These operations have included the businesses of: chemists, druggists, drysalters, oil and color men; importers and manufacturers of pharmaceutical, dental, medicinal, chemical, industrial, and insecticidal products; and other preparations and articles, compounds, cements, oils, paints, pigments and varnishes. In addition, some companies operating at the Atlantic Development area produced; polymers and resins, dyes, roofing materials (using coal tar and asbestos); sealants and feedstock products.

There are open floor drains leading from these buildings that terminate in the wetlands to the west. There is documentation which indicates that hazardous materials have been discharged to the wetlands via these drains. It is also suspected that there are underground storage tanks at various locations on the Atlantic Development property. Scattered drums can be found throughout the site and there are numerous 1-10 gallon pails strewn over the property. There are approximately 7-10 above ground storage tanks distributed throughout the area.

Removal activities, in the Atlantic Development area, were initiated by USEPA in October, 1991. These activities involved initial site stabilization which included: containment of surficial contamination; container staging, inventory and sampling; and submission of these samples for analysis. Containers and drums were staged in the facility buildings. Metal pails and empty drums were crushed and placed in roll-offs. In August, 1992 most of these materials were shipped off-site to an approved disposal site.

    (3) The Sayreville Pesticide Dump1,4

The last of the three site sub-sections is located at the southern end of Horseshoe Road and is referred to as the Sayreville Pesticide Dump (Figure 4). This name appears to be a misnomer because there has never been any evidence of pesticide dumping in this area.

The Sayreville Pesticide Dump is situated in a wooded area just south of Clover Chemical. The dump contains numerous exposed, partially buried and completely buried drums. There are also piles of a tar-like substance and many areas along the fill are comprised of an unknown gelatinous substance. Waste disposal in this area began in the 1960's and continued through the early 1980's.

The volume of the dump has been estimated to be about 50,000 square feet. This figure may be considerably underestimated because the entire perimeter of the dump has not been delineated. A fence encloses the majority of the visible dump, however there is evidence of dumping beyond the fence, e.g. drum skeletons, tar-like piles, laboratory jars, gloves etc.

As of this writing, the USEPA is mobilizing for their remedial activities at the Sayreville Pesticide Dump. No other previous removal activities have been preformed in this area except for the fence that surrounds the dump, which was installed during remedial work at the Atlantic Development Facility in 1985.

    ATSDR Involvement5

On August 16, 1991, the ATSDR performed a health consultation at the Horseshoe Road site. The consultation followed a request by the USEPA to comment on the health concerns posed by the existing conditions at the site and to comment on the USEPA's proposal that additional site characterization was necessary.

After analyzing all of the information and data available for the Horseshoe Road site the ATSDR noted that chemically contaminated soils and debris still exist at the site and that direct access to the contamination by local children and other residents was feasible. The report mentioned several substances (e.g., lead, mercury and pesticides), as posing possible health concerns depending on types of exposures. Several of the compounds identified at elevated concentrations are known or suspected carcinogens (e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), lindane and dioxin). It was felt that since fishing was permitted in the Raritan River, there existed the additional potential human health concern because some of the contaminants detected on-site (particularly mercury and some pesticides) may bioaccumulate in fish and other edible marine life, and in some game animals that depend on marine life for their sustenance.

The health consultation made the following conclusions:

  1. Current conditions on-site pose a public health threat via direct contact, particularly to youngsters gaining access to the site. The presence of partially filled containers of unknown contents and high levels of lead in soil indicate that relatively brief exposures could result in adverse health effects. Frequent exposures may increase the risk of cancer. A fire and explosion hazard may also exist.


  2. Off-site migration may be occurring via surface water runoff, air, and groundwater. Data are insufficient to determine the extent of the health threat. The ATSDR concurs with the USEPA that additional site characterization is necessary.

The health consultation Recommended the following:

  1. Restrict access to the site and remove obvious physical hazards.


  2. Systematically characterize the site including adjacent areas where migration of contamination is likely.

B. Site Visit

On December 14, 1993, J. Pasqualo and J. Winegar of the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) visited the Horseshoe Road site accompanied by a representative of Roy F. Weston, Inc., the company currently involved in remedial activities at the Sayreville Pesticide Dump section of the site. A representative of the Middlesex County Health Department was also present for the site inspection. The following observations were made during the site visit:

    General Comments:
  • The Horseshoe Road site appears to be a "run down" industrial area, loosely divided into two major areas: Atlantic Resources, which also includes The Horseshoe Road Dump area; and Atlantic Development, which includes The Sayreville Pesticide Dump.


  • The site was remote. There were no occupied residences within 1000 feet of the contaminated areas.


  • There were two major fenced in areas, first the Atlantic Resources buildings and tanks and, secondly, the Atlantic Development building complex and The Sayreville Pesticide Dump which are fenced together. The Horseshoe Road Dump area was not fenced and is accessible to site trespassers.


  • The site is "manned" and guarded on a 24 hour basis. In spite of security, trespassing appears to be ongoing and difficult to control. Of particular concern are the activities of hunters and 4-wheel vehicle drivers. Shotgun shells and "fresh" beer cans were noted.


  • There were numerous areas of apparent contamination outside of the fenced areas, e.g. drum carcasses, debris, and ground staining.


  • Instrument readings (HNU) taken during the site visit did not indicate the presence of organic compounds in the ambient air at detectable levels. (Winds were < 10 knots.)
    Atlantic Resources:
  • The Atlantic Resources area consisted a large "main building", eight incinerators, bag houses, a ball mill, two above ground storage tanks, and acid vats.


  • The main building shows signs of fire damage and a lack of structural integrity.


  • The Atlantic Resources area was surrounded by a chain link fence installed by USEPA. The fence appeared to be in good repair and would make trespassing difficult.


  • Run-off water from the Atlantic Resources area flows under an access road along a swale directly into the Raritan River.

  • West of this drainage swale is the Horseshoe Road Dump. The dump was reportedly covered with relatively clean fill, however, there were numerous visible bits and pieces of circuit board material scattered throughout the dump. There was also several areas of visible soil staining.
    Atlantic Development:
  • A fence encloses the Atlantic Development site and most of the Sayreville Pesticide Dump. The fence appeared to be in good repair making trespassing difficult.


  • Atlantic Development contains three buildings referred to (from north to south) as: Atlantic Development; Sayreville Compounding; and Clover Chemical. Each building shows signs of fire damage and a lack of structural integrity.


  • East of the three buildings, and within the fence, there were numerous salvage drums that were staged for future off-site transport.


  • Numerous areas of ground staining and surface water sheens were observed.
    The Sayreville Pesticide Dump:
  • Most of the Sayreville Pesticide Dump lies within the fenced perimeter that surrounds the Atlantic Development site.


  • Inside the fenced area there were several large piles of debris and drum carcasses that are partially covered with plastic sheeting.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resources Use

In order to evaluate potential health effects associated with exposure to hazardous substances in the environment, NJDOH obtains information on the population in the vicinity of the site ("demographics"), the types of land near the site, and natural resources use in the area. Population information is needed because some types of illness and disease are more common in certain age groups such as the elderly or children, in certain ethnic groups, or in groups of people with low income. In addition, some groups may be more sensitive to the presence of hazardous substances in the environment. Information on educational levels provides NJDOH some guidance on what types of health communication programs may be useful near the site in the future. Land use information is important because sensitive groups of people such as school children or residents of health care facilities may be located near the site. Use of some of the natural resources, such as groundwater, may have an effect on the potential for human exposure to hazardous substances.

    Demographics

According to 1990 United States Census data, about 672,000 people live in Middlesex County. The County Planning Board estimates that the population will increase to about 757,000 by the year 2000. About 35,000 people reside in Sayreville

At least 40 residences are located within a one mile radius, and several hundred homes and multi-dwelling buildings are located within two miles. There are no residences within 1000 feet of the Horseshoe Road site.

    Land Use1

The Horseshoe Road site is a relatively remote area where the land is primarily used for commercial and industrial purposes, although several residences and undeveloped lots are found near the site. The Middlesex County Utilities Authority sewage treatment plant is located northeast of the site. New Jersey Steel, an active manufacturing facility recycling scrap steel, is approximately one-half mile to the southwest.

Except for private gardens, land near the site is not used for agriculture.

There is another EPA Superfund site, the Sayreville Landfill, located approximately 3 miles south and west of the site. The Raritan Arsenal, a federal hazardous waste site, is located just across the Raritan River and within one-half mile northwest of the Horseshoe Road site.

    Natural Resources Use1

Potable water to the Borough of Sayreville is supplied by the Sayreville Water Company which maintains wells, recharge lagoons and pump mains several miles south of the site. The water company wells range from 300 to 700 feet in depth and draw water from the Old Bridge formation servicing approximately 8,500 people. It has been reported in previous site documents that there are two private wells in the area. It was believed that one of these wells was not in current use due to high salinity. The other well was drawing water from the same Old Bridge formation as the Sayreville municipal well system.

A telephone conversation with the Borough of Sayreville Water Company, (12/6/93), did not confirm the presence of any private wells in the vicinity of the site. They indicated that residences had been connected to the Borough of Sayreville's municipal well system for "many years", possibly since the 1960's. It is not known if some residents are still using residential well water for non-drinking purposes.

    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.

Cancer might be possible from long-term exposure to one of several of the site contaminants. Please refer to the Toxicological Implications subsection of the Public Health Implications section for more information on cancer.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

In order to gather information on community health concerns, NJDOH spoke with the Middlesex County Health Department and their Environmental Health Division. According to our conversations with these local officials (12/6/9 and 11/22/93, respectively) community concerns have been minimal, possibly due to the site's remoteness and the limited number of residents living near the site. A representative of Middlesex County Environmental Health did mention a past, undocumented, complaint from an elderly man who stated that he use to walk his dog in the area and that he, the man, was now sick. A similar undocumented complaint was noted by the Middlesex County Health Department. In this case a man had complained about past exposure to the site (playing in the area as a child) causing current health problems. The Middlesex County Health Department was unable to provide any written documentation of these complaints.

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