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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

GEIGER (C & M OIL) SITE
RANTOWLES, CHARLESTON COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA

SUMMARY

The Geiger site, previously known as the C & M Oil site, is a National Priorities List (NPL)facility located near the town of Rantowles in central Charleston County, South Carolina. Thesite covers a 5-acre area of very little topographic relief.

In March 1969, the South Carolina Pollution Control Authority (SCPCA) permitted Adams RunServices, Inc. to incinerate waste oil at what is now the Geiger site. Between 1969 and 1971,eight unlined lagoons were constructed to hold waste oil. In 1982, the site was purchased byGeorge Geiger who, in 1983, filled the lagoons with local soils. The site has since been used tostore equipment by Pile Drivers, Inc. There are crops, pasture lands and sand borrow pitsscattered within a 1-mile radius of the site. The site was added to the Environmental ProtectionAgency's (EPA) NPL in September 1984, after being proposed for inclusion in September 1983.

After adding this site to the NPL, the EPA performed a series of preliminary investigations anddetermined that no immediate actions were required at the site while further studies and cleanupactions are continuing.

Contaminants identified on the Geiger site include aluminum, antimony, beryllium, cadmium,chromium, copper, 1,1-dichloroethane, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatichydrocarbons (Benzo(b/k)fluoranthene, benz(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene), lead, andvanadium. Environmental contamination appears to be confined to the site. The site is restrictedby a fence in need of repair, and there are only approximately 10 houses in the immediatevicinity of the site; therefore, exposures to the general public are considered unlikely. However,trespassers could be exposed.

Community concerns were first expressed in 1970 with complaints of the odors emanating fromthe site. In 1974, a nearby property owner complained to the Charleston County HealthDepartment (CCHD) that oil was overflowing from the lagoons on the site. CCHD investigatedand ordered the site closed, citing evidence of recent oil dumping and of overflowing oil. In a1987 public meeting, several citizens expressed concerns about whether their drinking water wasfree from contamination and that the drinking water may not be healthy for their children. Citizens also expressed concerns that drums containing hazardous waste may be buried on the site.

The site is classified as being an indeterminate public health hazard because of insufficientsurface soil data, fish sampling data, surface water, and sediment data. The limited data do notindicate that humans are being exposed to contaminants that would have an adverse impact onhuman health. If additional data should become available, this classification may change.

The site remediation is being addressed in two long-term remedial phases focusing soil and groundwater. EPA has determined that a source removal is not necessary.

The ATSDR Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has recommended the followingpublic health actions for this site: conduct a public availability session to inform on-site workersand local residents not to use on-site ponds for fishing; and, post signs around on-site pondsdiscouraging their use for fishing.

We recommend that the environmental fate and transport of site-related contaminants be fullycharacterized; that all possible sources of contamination in the area unrelated to the site beidentified; that more water samples be collected and interpreted from the on-site pond currentlyused for fishing; that collection and analysis of fish samples from this pond be performed; thaton-site and off-site surface soil sampling from the top three inches of soil be conducted; and thatsurface water and sediment samples be collected, specifically from the areas adjacent to the on-site ponds. We also recommend that the fence around the site be repaired to ensure the site isrestricted from trespassers.

BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

The Geiger (C&M Oil) site is located in central Charleston County, South Carolina,approximately 10 miles west of the city of Charleston, along Highway 162 (Figure 1). The siteis located approximately 1 mile southwest of the town of Rantowles and 4 miles east of the townof Hollywood. The east end of the site is occupied by a business that employs approximatelyfive people. The office and shop are located in the eastern section of the site. Pile drivingequipment is stored throughout the site and some of this equipment is believed to be stored ontop of the old incinerator area (Figure 2). There are two freshwater ponds on the site; both arebelieved to be recharged from the shallow groundwater aquifer. During heavy rainstorms theseponds may overflow through a small stream into a low lying area immediately west of the site. One of these ponds (located to the south of the other) is reportedly used for fishing by on-siteworkers; the other, however, contains a greenish sludge residue and no aquatic organisms arebelieved to live there (Figure 3).

The area surrounding the site is a sparsely populated rural area. There are approximately 10residences immediately adjacent to the east and northeast of the site. Several small businessesare located within one-half mile of the site along Highway 162. There are no major industriesnearby. Land thought to be used for agricultural purposes is scattered within a 1-mile radius ofthe site. A marshy area is located to the west of the site.

The site covers a 5-acre area of very little topographic relief. Elevations on the site range from15 to 30 feet above mean sea level. Surface drainage appears to be into two on-site ponds, andto the west and northwest toward the Wallace River and Log Bridge Creek, which flow into theStono River (Figure 4). A marshy area is found west of the site. Sensitive wetlandenvironments are located in the Wallace River vicinity. These wetlands are a critical habitatsupporting several federally listed endangered and threatened species. The South CarolinaDepartment of Marine Resources and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service have identified BaldEagles in the area and have reported a likelihood of wood storks and American alligators in thewetlands (Remedial Design/RD, 1991).

In March 1969, the South Carolina Pollution Control Authority (SCPCA), permitted Adams RunServices, Inc. to incinerate waste oil at the site. Between 1969 and 1971, eight unlined lagoonswere constructed to hold the waste oil to be incinerated. The lagoons cover an areaapproximately 1 foot deep and 50 feet wide by 100 feet long.

In late 1971, in response to complaints from area residents about odors from the site, SCPCAordered that all incineration and waste disposal activities at the site be stopped and that theowner take action to prevent further spillage, leakage, or seepage of oil from the site.

In April 1974, a nearby property owner complained to the Charleston County Health Department(CCHD) that oil was overflowing from the lagoons on the site. CCHD investigated and orderedthe site closed, citing evidence of recent oil dumping and of overflowing oil. C&M OilDistributors, Inc. (C&M Oil) then purchased all reclaimable oil on the site and submittedrecovery plans to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control(SCDHEC) but reportedly received no response.

In December 1979, SCDHEC requested C&M Oil to provide information on their plans forcleaning up the site. C&M Oil replied that they were unable to recover the waste oil and thatthey were not obligated to clean the site.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began investigating the site in February 1980. Samples from two monitoring wells installed downgradient of the site contained organiccompounds and metals that were also found in the on-site waste pits. Residential wellsupgradient of the site were sampled and the reports indicated that no organic compounds weredetected. Metals in these residential samples were at background levels. Waste oil in the lagoons was found to contain chemicals similar to those associated with automotive crankcases,brake fluid, and degreasing compounds. The total quantity of waste on the site was estimated at149,600 gallons, the equivalent of 2,720 55-gallon drums.

In 1982, the site was purchased by George Geiger who proposed excavation and disposal ofcontaminated soil in the lagoons; however, his request to SCDHEC was denied. In 1983, hefilled the lagoons with local soils. Since this time, Pile Drivers, Inc. has used the site to storeequipment. The Geiger site was evaluated, and in September 1983 was proposed for inclusioninto the National Priority List (NPL). After adding this site to the NPL in 1984, the EPAperformed a series of preliminary investigations and determined that no immediate actions wererequired at the site; however, further studies and cleanup actions are continuing. In 1984, EPAcontracted Camp, Dresser, & McKee, Inc. (CDM), to perform a Remedial Investigation (RI) andFeasibility Study (FS).

In the summer of 1985, EPA began the RI which was completed in July 1986. The RIdetermined that the soil on the site is contaminated with lead, chromium, and polychlorinatedbiphenyls (PCBs); however, these contaminants do not appear to be moving off-site (EPA,1987). No contaminants were detected in residential wells.

In 1987, EPA conducted an additional investigation at the request of local residents whosuspected that the Geiger site contained buried drums with hazardous materials. No drums werediscovered on or near the site (EPA, 1987).

On June 7, 1987, EPA signed a Record of Decision (ROD) outlining the plans to cleanup theGeiger site. These plans are based on the results of investigations by the EPA and commentsfrom the public. The decision for cleanup includes pumping and on-site treatment ofgroundwater and on-site solidification of soil. Remedial activities have not been completed.

In May 1988, Ebasco Services Incorporated conducted a Post-ROD field investigation. Soilsamples were collected from locations previously shown to be contaminated. The analyticalresults indicated levels of contamination above the revised ROD soil clean-up goals. In January1989, Ebasco also collected water samples from monitoring and from private residential wells. At that time, residential well samples indicated no detectable levels of contaminants.

Additional monitoring wells have been installed at the Geiger site since the RI (from 1987-1989). In June 1992, groundwater samples were collected by EPA at existing monitoring wells(MW1 wells have been abandoned and not sampled). Samples from the monitoring wells wereanalyzed by a CLP (Contract Laboratory Program) for TAL (Target Analyte List) and TCL (Target Compound List) compounds.

B. Site Visit

SCDHEC staff, consisting of James Ullery, John Ohlandt, and Ed Gibson conducted a site visitin February 1978. The area was comprised of approximately seven storage lagoons connectedby small openings in each lagoon dike. The appearance of the lagoons indicated that they hadpreviously been used for storage of oil containing liquids. At the time of this visit the lagoonscontained only a small water and oil layer. The site appeared not to have been used for quitesome time. The area seemed to have been abandoned and thus the unauthorized disposalremained on the site.

On April 15, 1992, SCDHEC staff (Charles Lewis, Bobbie J. Williams, Sue Schweikart andBilly Britton) visited the site. At this time, part of the fence had fallen and the property was notcompletely secured. The office is located at the entrance of the site (a double wide trailer) and abuilding used as a shop and for storing equipment is located next to it (Figure 3). Equipmentwas scattered all over the site, including trucks and derricks. Fuel was spilled on the groundbeneath one of the trucks.

Two lagoons remain on the site; one contains a greenish standing water/sludge residue and theother (located to the south of the first) contains water and is believed to be used by on-siteworkers for fishing. The property owner stated that some of the on-site workers fish in this pondon an occasional basis; however, consumption information is not known. There was no evidenceof wildlife or aquatic organisms on the site.

The soil was blackened, oily, and sandy over the areas where the lagoons had been located. Asmall house trailer and a utility building were noted to the southwest of the fishing pond. Bothbuildings had electric meters and power cables connected to them. Trash bags containing beercans outside the trailer closest to the fishing pond were noted. Used shot gun shells were seenin the southwestern section of the site which may mean that hunting is occurring on the site.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

Geiger is located in a sparsely populated rural area approximately ten miles from Charleston,South Carolina. There are an estimated 10 residences predominantly to the north and east of thesite. This population is estimated at 40 persons. The site is surrounded by woods to the north,west, and south.

At the time of the 1990 Census, an estimated 1,044 persons lived within a 2-mile radius of thesite. There is a mobile home in the southwestern part of the site. Census data for the area withinthe 2-mile radius of the site is found on Table 1.

The town of Rantowles, located approximately one mile northeast of the site, has a 1990estimated census population of 44 people. The city of Charleston, with a 1990 Censuspopulation estimate of 80,414 persons, is located 10 miles west of the site. Current Censusfigures for the population of Charleston County are 295,039.

Scattered single family residences are located in the areas immediately to the east and northeastof the site, and along Route 162. The largest residential development in the area isapproximately four miles west of the site off Route 162. About 29% of owner-occupied housingunits in the 2-mile area were worth less than $25,000 in 1990 (state median was $61,100), whilesome 1% of renter-occupied units were under $150 per month (state median was $276 per month).

Table 1.

GEIGER SITE DEMOGRAPHICS
A*Demographics for 1-mile radius
        Total Population: 327
            Median Age 33

B*Demographics for 2-mile radius
        Total Population: 1,044
            Median Age: 33


%
White
%
Black
%
Other
%
<10
yrs
%
65+
yrs
* %
Rental
Units
<$150/
month
%
Houses
<$25,000
%
Renter-
Occupied
Housing
A* 40 59 1 18 12 7 18 9
B* 42 57 1 18 10 1 299

* Percentage include all rentals; some subsidized housing includes those who pay no cash rent.

C.City of Charleston
        Total Population: 80,414
D.Charleston County
        Total Population: 295,039

Land Use

The environmental setting of the site is predominantly mixed coniferous and deciduous forest. Estuarine streams and their associated tidal wetlands are located approximately 1 mile to thenorth and south of the site.

Small commercial areas are located in the nearby towns of Rantowles and Hollywood. There areno major industries or other sources of employment nearby. Agricultural lands used for cropsand pasture and borrow pits are scattered within a 1-mile radius of the site (EPA 1984).

Natural Resources Use

Hydrogeologic data from the RI indicates that the Geiger site lies in the Atlantic Coastal Plainphysiographic providence. The uppermost aquifer at the site is a surficial, unconfined aquifer,approximately 40 to 50 feet thick. It is composed of clean to silty sand with some mud and isbelieved to be recharged by rainfall. This aquifer was used as a source of drinking water forapproximately 10 residents near the site. Most water supply wells in the area immediatelyadjacent to the Geiger site utilize the shallow aquifer. This surficial aquifer is underlain by theCopper Marl, which acts as a confining layer in the area and separates the surficial aquifer fromlower formations. The Copper Marl is a sandy, phosphatic limestone containing 25 to 75percent carbonates and about 2 to 3 percent clay (RI, 1986). It varies in thickness and isestimated to be 15 to 60 feet thick in this area (RD, 1991).

Groundwater is a major source of water supply in the vicinity of the site for residential andcommercial use. Groundwater flow across the site is generally to the west and northwest,discharging to surface waters in the wetlands of the Wallace River drainage basin. Theresidences to the east, northeast and southwest of the site used to obtain their water from privatewells. Most of these wells were located upgradient of the site. Municipal water is now availableto residents.

Two freshwater ponds are located on the site. The site topography indicates that the ponds arerecharged by shallow groundwater. One of the ponds (located to the south of the other, Figure3) is reportedly used for fishing by the on-site workers. Fish living in the pond includelargemouth bass. The amounts of fish caught and consumed from this pond is not known. Thesecond pond (located north of the other) contains a greenish-watery sludge and does not support life.

D. Health Outcome Data

No health outcome data for the Geiger site is available for review as of May, 1992. Wecontacted the Charleston County Health Department and the Environmental Quality ControlDistrict Office for information on health outcome data relevant to the site area. These officeshad no health outcome data.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Community Concerns were first expressed in 1970 with complaints of the odors emanating fromthe site. In 1974, a nearby property owner complained to the Charleston County HealthDepartment (CCHD) that oil was overflowing from the lagoons on the site. CCHD investigatedand ordered the site closed, citing evidence of recent oil dumping and of overflowing oil. In apublic meeting held in 1987 several citizens expressed concerns about whether their drinkingwater was free from contamination and that the drinking water was not healthy for their children. Residents were also concerned that drums containing hazardous wastes may be buried on the site.

The Geiger (C & M) Oil Site Public Health Assessment was available for review and publiccomment from March 29, 1993 to April 28, 1993. Copies of the public health assessment wereavailable to the community/interested parties at the Charleston County Library (the King Streetand St. Paul's Branches), Hollywood Town Hall, and the Division of Health Hazard Evaluationat SCDHEC in Columbia. Additionally, news releases were sent to all the weekly and dailynewspapers in the state, all television networks in the state, the Associated Press, and the SouthCarolina Radio network. This comment period was intended to give the public and/or interestedparties an opportunity to voice additional concerns or make comments pertaining to the Geiger(C & M) Site Public Health Assessment. The office of Health Hazard Evaluation of the SouthCarolina Department of Health and Environmental Control did not receive comments from thepublic during this period; however, the EPA did provide comments during this period. Based onthese comments, corrections were made in the historical information presented in the Summaryand Background sections.



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