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PETITIONED HEALTH ASSESSMENT

OLD DOUGLAS COUNTY LANDFILL
(a/k/a: DOUGLAS COUNTY/CEDAR MOUNTAIN LANDFILL)
DOUGLASVILLE, DOUGLAS COUNTY, GEORGIA


SUMMARY

The Old Douglas County Landfill in Douglasville, Georgia, operated from 1973 until 1987 as a municipal waste landfill. Existing landfill records specify that household wastes were received, however, industrial wastes are suspected to have been disposed at this landfill. The speculation of possible migration of industrial wastes has been a primary focus of public concern about the environmental and health implications of this landfill. This public health assessment is an evaluation of existing environmental data, both on- and off-site, and community health concerns related to the Old Douglas County Landfill to determine the human health impact.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) concludes that private well water near the landfill is safe to drink. The surface water from Gothard's Creek and the settling ponds on the landfill do not have chemicals present at levels of public health concern. The groundwater below the landfill contains elevated levels of several metals, however, there is no human consumption or contact with this groundwater. The settling ponds on the landfill and parts of Gothard's Creek contain elevated levels of lead, manganese, and iron in the sediment that are not harmful to humans under typical exposure conditions. The soil located on- and off-site also had elevated levels of lead, manganese, and iron, however, these metals do not pose a threat to human health under typical exposure conditions. Currently, human contact with contaminants in soil, sediment, and surface water associated with Old Douglas County Landfill is not expected to result in adverse health effects. ATSDR determined that the methane monitoring locations and frequency at the landfill are inadequate to fully evaluate conditions at the perimeter of the landfill or near adjacent houses. ATSDR determined the Old Douglas County Landfill is a No Apparent Public Health Hazard in the past and present based on low levels of contaminants found at the site and the infrequency of human contact with sediments and soil.


PURPOSE AND HEALTH ISSUES

The Old Douglas County Landfill (also known as Cedar Mountain Road Landfill) is an unlined, sanitary landfill located in Douglasville, Georgia. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) was petitioned by local community members to evaluate the potential public health impact of possible contaminants from the landfill migrating off-site [1]. This county owned and operated landfill accepted municipal waste and is suspected by the community to have accepted industrial wastes from nearby industries. The purpose of this public health assessment is to address potential human exposure related to the landfill by evaluating existing environmental data, both on- and off-site, and community health concerns.

Site Background

The Old Douglas County Landfill was constructed on 151 acres in a semi-suburban area of Douglasville and operated by Douglas County. The landfill was permitted as a municipal landfill in 1973 and stopped receiving waste in 1987. The landfill officially closed June 20, 1989. During operation, there were several landfill inspection reports that indicated violations such as improper use of earth cover and lack of erosion control [2]. It was also reported from local residents that industrial wastes from local industries were received. The most likely industrial wastes that could have been disposed of are chemical wastes, fuel oil, jet fuel, and asphalt production wastes [3]. A map with the location and demographics of Old Douglas County Landfill is located in Appendix A.

The landfill is currently maintained by the Douglas County Landfill Division. The only entrance road to the landfill is gated and remains padlocked. The landfill is surrounded by an earthen berm that is 6-8 feet high that was built for erosion control and to restrict vehicular traffic. The earthen berm shows signs of trespassing from off-road vehicles and horse riding trails. The landfill property is not fenced. There is a mobile home park with over 200 housing units approximately 100 yards from the western boundary of the landfill. There are also a few homes on the eastern boundary. Public access on the landfill property is evident by children's "treehouses", deer hunting stands, and food wrappers left on-site. In addition, Douglas County has also allowed a remote controlled plane club and the county sheriff's department frequent access to the site. The plane club constructed an open shelter and runway for remote control airplanes at the south end of the landfill. The sheriff's department holds various training activities on-site such as target shooting practice and K-9 Unit (police dog) training.

After the landfill's closure in 1989, pine seedlings were planted to control erosion on the landfill surface. Currently, the landfill has a thick vegetation cover along with several dirt roads throughout the site. There are four settling basins or ponds located on the site. Drainage flows toward the settling ponds and Gothard's Creek, which flows northeast through the landfill property. Gothard's Creek is shallow and narrow as it runs through the landfill property and it is reported to be an occasional local fishery as it widens downstream off-site. An open trench containing standing water on the southern boundary has a flood control drainage pipe directing drainage overflow into Gothard's Creek during heavy rain fall. There are no municipal drinking water intakes within fifteen miles down stream of the landfill.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) requires landfills that were closed before June 22, 1989 to monitor for environmental contamination one year after the closure date [4]. After this time, landfill owners are not required to monitor activities relating to the landfill unless there is a threat to public health or clear evidence of environmental degradation. Old Douglas County Landfill is maintained under this requirement; the landfill closure plan did not require the installation of a leachate collection system, groundwater monitoring wells, or a landfill cap. However, limited environmental sampling activities have occurred since the landfill's closure to characterize the impact of this landfill to the environment and human health. Three temporary monitoring wells were installed in 1994 to analyze the groundwater. Limited soil, sediment, and surface water samples have been collected around the landfill and analyzed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the EPD. Results of ATSDR's evaluation of the environmental monitoring are in the Discussion section of this document.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Specific concerns were expressed about the possible release of contaminated leachate from the landfill into the groundwater and surface water. The community is concerned that private drinking water wells in the vicinity may become contaminated and that the chemicals released from the landfill into Gothard's Creek could be accumulating in the fish. The reported health problems that individuals perceive to be related to the landfill include a case of prostate cancer and a case of arthritis in nearby residents [5].



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Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

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