Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

LIMESTONE ROAD SITE
CUMBERLAND, ALLEGANY COUNTY, MARYLAND


SUMMARY

The Limestone Road Site, located in Cumberland, Maryland, has been evaluated for potential health risks to the neighboring residential community. The site is classified as an indeterminate public health hazard because of possible past and present exposure to surface soil contamination. Surface soil contamination has not been adequately characterized to determine levels of exposure. Also, drinking water samples from two residential wells contained lead at levels above health comparison values; however, those levels were not confirmed by sampling conducted in late 1986 and by EPA in 1990. Chronic exposure to elevated lead levels in drinking water can impair neurological development in children, but it is not apparent that lead levels were high enough for a long enough period of time to cause adverse effects. Furthermore, it is not clear whether the lead originated from the site or the homes' plumbing systems.

Community concerns have been expressed in the past, but no one has expressed health concerns recently. Concerns have focused on the safety of drinking water in the area around the site. In fact some people do not use their private well water despite the fact that recent sampling has not indicated the presence of contaminants. People have also expressed concern about eating the fish from a nearby Evitts Creek.

Results from residential well water sampling during the Remedial Investigation (RI) indicated that in addition to lead, methylene chloride and bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (BEHP) may have reached these wells. Except for one positive result for methylene chloride, these results were qualified as laboratory contamination and were not replicated in subsequent sampling. There is no apparent threat to public health by exposure to groundwater. However, because these chemicals were found on and off-site in several other media, further groundwater sampling of residential wells is planned to ensure that contamination detected in on-site monitoring wells is not migrating off-site.

Surface water and sediment sampling indicated that some off-site migration of heavy metals including chromium, cadmium, barium, lead and nickel has occurred. Levels of some of these contaminants exceed USEPA Ambient Water Quality Criteria for the protection of human health. These criteria protect for the potential health threat from ingestion of bioaccumulated contaminants in fish and surface water. Further surface water and sediment sampling is needed to confirm the contaminant concentrations detected in these media; however, the data available at this time do not suggest that exposure to these media pose a significant risk to human health.

In addition to the potential health risks from chemical contaminants, there are a number of physical hazards on both properties. These hazards include an old building that is structurally unsafe and many rusted vehicles, appliances and machinery that pose a threat of bodily injury to trespassers.

Recommendations to restrict access to the site, conduct additional sampling of residential groundwater, surface soil, surface water and sediment and institute measures to prevent further off-site migration of contamination from surface runoff erosion are made in this public health assessment. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) reviewed this public health assessment and determined that possible exposures can not be evaluated and that no health follow-up health actions are indicated at this time. In order to prevent further possible exposures, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and ATSDR developed the following public health actions plan:

    MDE will inform Limestone Road residents about the physical hazards that exist in the vicinity of the former Cumberland City Dump.

    EPA, as stated in the Record of Decision (ROD), will fence two property areas that compose the Limestone Road site. The projected date for fencing is August 1994.

    Additional surface soil, surface water, and sediment sampling will be conducted as described in the Supplemental Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS). Groundwater will also be tested for the presence of organic compounds including methylene chloride.

    EPA will cap areas with high soil contamination to prevent direct human contact with contaminants and to control leaching and infiltration of surface water into the streams and groundwater.


BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

The Limestone Road Site is located in Allegany County, Maryland, 2.5 miles east-southeast of Cumberland, Maryland. The 210-acre site consists of two parcels of land: the former Diggs property and the Cumberland Cement and Supply Company (CC&SC) property (See Figure 1).

Included in the site are large landfilled areas where commercial, residential, and demolition refuse was deposited. In addition, EPA estimated that in April 1981, approximately 110 tons of a chromium-containing sludge from the manufacturing/processing facilities of Fairchild Republic Industries, Inc., Hagerstown, Maryland, were disposed of at the site. The total amount of hazardous waste sludge disposed at the site is unknown. Through surveillance and sampling operations by the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region III Field Investigation Team (FIT), 30 acres of suspected dumping areas were defined on the site (1).

The site is accessible by Limestone Road, which separates the southeastern and northwestern limits of the Diggs and CC&SC properties, respectively. The former Diggs property is bounded to the southwest by several residences (one is actually on the former Diggs property) and on the northeast by the former Cumberland City Dump and undeveloped land. The CC&SC property is bounded to the northwest by the Cumberland City Dump. The remainder of the site is bordered by undeveloped forested land.

The 191 acre CC&SC property, which had been the site of a commercial limestone quarrying operation, was purchased in 1962 for the purpose of developing the quarry to the north and east of the site. However, the quarry was never developed. Instead, these areas were used for dumping during the mid-1970s in order to make the ravine into a more level working area. Fill consisted of a wide variety of housing demolition materials (1).

Other site activities such as truck repair and hazardous waste disposal contributed to the contamination found at the site. In particular, state records indicate that of the 110 tons of waste sludge disposed on the Limestone Road site, 99 tons were dumped in or near the ravine area in April 1981. This sludge, from the Fairchild Republic facility of Hagerstown, contained chromium, lead, and cadmium. The CC&SC property is currently inactive. Approximately 25 feet of chain link fence approximately with a gate approximately 5 feet high blocks vehicular access to the property from Limestone Road.

Diggs Sanitation, Inc., a licensed waste hauler, operated the property on the opposite side of Limestone Road from CC&SC. Since the early 1960s or earlier, at least 11 tons of the waste sludge from the Fairchild plant were buried on the Diggs property. The property was sold in the early 1980s. The Diggs built a house on the property in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Subsequently, the property was sold for back taxes at a sheriff's sale. The new owner purchased the property, but has not taken title. The new owner operates an unpermitted salvage yard on the property. Numerous vehicles are parked throughout. Based upon correspondence with EPA and MDE, the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission requested that the owner cease salvage yard operations and remove all vehicles from the property so that the remedial action can be completed.

Both the CC&SC and former Diggs properties border the Old Cumberland City Dump which functioned from 1932 to 1968 as a disposal site for fly ash from the local coal-fired electrical utility generating plant as well as miscellaneous scrap metal wastes. This property has not been included in the site definition.

Until late 1986, exposed fly ash piles sloped steeply on the northern and eastern sides of the dump. Half-buried tires were exposed on the northern and southern faces of the property along with several crushed and rusted drums (1). USEPA conducted an investigation of the Old Cumberland City Dump in 1986 and recommended that no further remedial action was necessary at that time.

In 1987, MDE initiated an enforcement action at the site which involved moving the fly ash pile away from the sloped area, burying the ash and vegetating the area to prevent erosion. This action, completed in 1989, prevents future off-site migration of contaminants including arsenic and polyaromatic hydrocarbons due to erosion and wind. USEPA re-evaluated the site in 1992 and again concluded that no further action was needed.

A Complaint and Order was issued to both Diggs and CC&SC in June 1981 by the State of Maryland which required both parties to hire a qualified firm to assess the contaminant problem on their properties. They were also required to submit and implement a reclamation plan for cleaning up the site wastes. A subsequent site inspection conducted by USEPA's contractor in 1982 resulted in the site's placement on the Superfund National Priorities List. In 1986 a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was completed, and ATSDR developed a public health assessment (PHA) for the site. The PHA recommended that two residential wells should not be used without treatment to remove lead. In addition ATSDR suggested that measures be taken to limit off-site migration of fly ash at the Cumberland Site Dump and that further groundwater monitoring be conducted. Both recommendations were implemented.

A Record of Decision (ROD) was approved in September 1986 and called for an interim alternative of grading, capping and fencing contaminated areas, as well as obtaining additional samples for further site characterization and evaluation. None of these activities have been completed. A Partial Consent Decree between USEPA, Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), and the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) (individuals identified as potentially responsible for the contamination) was entered with the Court on February 28, 1990. The decision requires the PRPs to perform sampling activities to further characterize the site. This investigation, known as a Supplemental RI/FS, was targeted for completion towards the Spring of 1992 (1). However, due to delays, response activities were not started until April 1992, and are not expected to be completed before late Fall 1993 (Note: information from completed work was not available as of November 1993). Additionally, the remedial action (capping of the contaminated soil) is expected to be completed around the Spring 1994.

Because additional site investigations have been conducted since ATSDR conducted the PHA, and further studies are planned, ATSDR has initiated this assessment as an update to the previous report.

B. Site Visit

Carolyn Nunley of the Environmental Toxicology and Risk Assessment Division (ETRA) of MDE, conducted a site visit on Friday, November 8, 1991, accompanied by a team of investigators from USEPA Region III. This team included the Project Manager, Mr. Andrew Sochanski, the Community Relations Coordinator, Leanne Nurse, Biologist Bob Davis, and two staff members from the oversight contractor, Dynamac Corporation. Two employees from Geraghty and Miller, Inc., the company hired by CC&SC and Diggs to complete the Supplemental Remedial Investigation, also toured the site.

The site visit consisted of a full perimeter tour of the CC&SC and Diggs properties as well as the Old Cumberland City Dump. Conditions at each of these properties exhibited signs of human and wildlife access and are described below in more detail. Changes that have occurred since the 1991 site visit are noted within the text. Other conditions remain the same.

CC&SC Property:

Although a short piece of chain-link fence and gate approximately 5 feet high blocks vehicular access to the CC&SC property, there were many signs to indicate that local sportsmen and young people frequently go on the site: Shotgun shells were scattered throughout the site; a roughly constructed table, probably used as a rifle firing bench, surrounded by soda and beer cans, sat between an old utility building and the charred remains of a campfire; and an old 55-gallon drum appeared to have been used as a target in a make-shift firing range (the firing bench has since been removed). The aluminum boxes covering water level measuring equipment on the monitoring well casings had also been used for target practice. There were trails throughout the area that appeared to have been made by dirt bikes. A number of old stuffed animals and toys were found along these trails indicating that children might play on the property.

Diggs Property:

The current owner and resident of the former Diggs property operates the automotive maintenance garage on the premises. He and another person were working at the facility during the site visit. Many vehicles in different stages of repair were parked on the lot behind the garage near a charred area where a small amount of material appeared to have been burned. Farther behind the facility, toward a steep ravine, many large pieces of machinery, (large steel tanks, motors and vehicles) lay rusting beside a path that leads down to the stream. The Diggs property abuts the Cumberland City Dump at the bottom of the ravine where a stream bed forms from surface runoff and shallow groundwater. This area is full of old appliances (washing machines, dryers, ovens and stoves, etc.).

The group followed the stream bed out to its confluence with runoff from the other side of the Dump area. A culvert had been installed to divert the surface runoff from its natural course. This water system flows out to a large power line right-of-way and past another group of homes where farm animals including rabbits, goats, and chickens are raised. No signs prohibiting trespassing were evident at this or the other properties comprising the Limestone Road Site.

The Old Cumberland City Dump:

The only barrier to the Old City Dump entrance consisted of a piece of wood placed across two steel drums. The access road was covered with a thick layer of the same type of black fly ash that was also found in piles and buried throughout the dump area. Obvious tire tracks indicated that motor vehicles had recently been on site. Old cars, trucks, tires, motors and other semi-demolished machines, as well as several old and new fuel tanks, were parked and piled throughout the area.

During the site visit the group saw several hunters/target shooters of various ages ranging from mid-teens to mid-forties. The group heard gunshots coming from both the dump area and the CC&SC properties. The USEPA Region III Project Manager informed each group of trespassers that the properties were part of the hazardous waste site and that they should stay away from the area. Now signs have been posted on the property to warn trespassers of the hazards present at the site.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

In 1980, the population of Allegany County was 80,546 (USEPA, 1986). Thirty-two percent of this population resides in the City of Cumberland, approximately 2.5 miles west of the Limestone Road Site. Currently, 18 residences are within a half mile downgradient of the Limestone Road Site: 5 are within 100 yards of the site, and 1 is on the former Diggs property. Population forecasts for the City of Cumberland were unavailable, although the total population of Allegany County has been projected to decline to 78,900 by the year 2000 (1).

Land Use

The Limestone Road Site is zoned as a general urban district. The owner of the adjacent property (the former Cumberland City Dump) has a permit to operate the facility as a salvage yard. This permit is renewed annually on the condition that appropriate screening (fences and/or shrubbery) around the yard is maintained.

Property below (downhill of) the site is zoned for residential use. Although this area is not connected to the public water and sewer system, such a connection is feasible. Therefore, further residential development can be expected. However, because the county population is expected to decline in this decade, development would probably not occur for some time. Due to erosion problems, the steeply sloping wooded land above (uphill of) the site is a restricted conservation area where no further development will be permitted (2).

Natural Resource Use

All eighteen homes in the vicinity of the site obtain drinking water from the local groundwater aquifer through private wells. An aquifer consists of rock or rock materials that are sufficiently permeable to conduct groundwater and to yield sufficient quantities of water to wells or springs. Because of the rural nature of the area, any new residences would be expected to use this groundwater as well, unless the municipal supply is extended to this neighborhood.

The drainage basin of the North Branch of the Potomac River encompasses the Limestone Road site. Surface water drains from the site to unnamed tributary streams that flow to the North Branch and Evitts Creek. A spring discharging from the base of CC&SC property feeds a tributary that flows south-southwesterly to the North Branch. Another spring that discharges from the base of the Cumberland City Dump and receives runoff from the fly ash pile flows into an unnamed tributary that discharges into Evitts Creek above its confluence with the North Branch (1).

The site and the area in its immediate vicinity are frequently used by hikers, hunters, and young people. Local residents report that Evitts Creek and its tributaries are used for fishing, swimming, and boating.

D. Health Outcome Data

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is currently in the process of gathering cancer incidence data dating back to 1983. Comparative cancer incidence data for the local (zip-code or census tract), county and state is available. Cancer mortality data is available from DHMH through 1988.

The birth defects Registry at the DHMH has data available from 1984 to 1988; however, the data are limited to 12 sentinel birth defects reportable by law.

Vital statistics (births and deaths) are compiled by DHMH and are available from the early 1960's through 1987.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Local officials report that community involvement at the site has been low and limited to a small group of residents who live on or near Limestone Road. Community involvement has generally been in response to County, State, or USEPA action rather than as organized activities initiated by the community. No community groups have been formed to participate in the investigation of the site, or to express a concerted opinion about how the site should be addressed (4).

The County Environmental Health Officer reported that public concern was highest in the early 1980s during the trial of one of the property owners for hazardous waste dumping on the Limestone Road site. Attention was focused on the safety of private drinking water supply wells. At that time the County Health Department sampled seven wells and found no contamination (4).

In 1984, USEPA held a public meeting to inform the community about the RI/FS work plan. The meeting was well attended by approximately 30 people who expressed concern about the long-term safety of their drinking water, potential contamination of surface water, and the length of time needed for the pre-remedial investigations. Residents also reported concerns about off-site dumping at the old Cumberland City Dump, located near the Limestone Road site. Individuals reported that trucks drive past their homes on a private road at all hours of the night (3).

Concern about potential surface water contamination focused on the integrity of local surface waters and USEPA's plan for surface water monitoring. Families reported that they fish in Evitts Creek and expressed concern about contaminated runoff reaching this area. In addition, residents reported that a tributary near the Cumberland City Dump turns black after every rainfall. They inquired whether the color was due to runoff from the exposed fly ash and if it poses a threat to human health (3). Since this time, remedial action has been taken to prevent further erosion and off-site migration of fly ash from the Cumberland City Dump.

Since then community concerns have decreased, although a few residents choose not to drink water from their well despite results from more recent sampling (3).

Although this document was released for public comment from November 25, 1992, to January 20, 1993, no comments were received.



Next Section           Table of Contents

  
 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #