PETITIONED PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
PINEWOOD, SUMTER COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA
The GSX Landfill(1), is adjacent to Lake Marion, near the town of Rimini, in Sumter County, SouthCarolina. An opaline claystone mine and a solid waste landfill were operated at the site in the1970s. Since then, a series of owners has operated a commercial hazardous waste managementlandfill at the site. The landfill is now owned and operated by Laidlaw Environmental Services ofSouth Carolina, Inc. (Laidlaw). The South Carolina Department of Health and EnvironmentalControl (SCDHEC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulate the landfillunder the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Hazardous Waste ManagementAct, and other applicable state laws. SCDHEC issued a five-year RCRA operating permit for thelandfill, which became effective in March 1994.
In the past, area residents expressed a variety of concerns about the GSX Landfill. Residents areconcerned that wastes disposed of at the site might cause illness in their community andcontaminate air, groundwater, surface water, or fish. Concerns have also been expressed thatwaste transportation activities could result in human exposure to site-related contaminants. Because of those concerns, an environmental awareness group called the Citizens Asking for aSafe Environment (CASE) petitioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR) to conduct a health assessment of the site.
Environmental studies identified heavy metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in on-sitegroundwater and on-site surface water and detected particulates (dusts) and VOCs in on-site air.Periodic groundwater and surface water monitoring have not indicated the release of anycontamination resulting from the landfill's activities; no data are currently available for off-site air.Sampling data reviewed by EPA and SCDHEC indicates that all groundwater and surface watercontamination on-site is attributable to previous owners' past mining and waste burningoperations activities at the site.
ATSDR did not identify completed human exposure pathways for the GSX Landfill; however,potential human exposure pathways exist. On-site workers could be exposed to contaminants inon-site air, although the use of personal protective equipment mitigates this exposure pathway. Area residents are unlikely to be exposed to site-related contaminants in their drinking waterbecause: 1) groundwater contamination presently exists only on-site, 2) groundwater under thesite appears to flow in a west/southwest direction toward Lake Marion and away from residencesto the east, north, and south, and 3) no downgradient drinking water wells exist between thelandfill and Lake Marion. Contaminants in on-site groundwater, surface water, or leachate couldpossibly migrate off site to Lake Marion. Lack of data prevents ATSDR from determiningwhether exposure occurred as a result of releases from trucks and rail cars carrying wastes to the landfill.
Whether area residents have been or are being exposed to airborne contamination has not beenestablished because off-site air data are lacking. No monitoring data are available to determinethe concentration of contaminants that may have been released into the air by an on-site kiln thatwas used until 1990 for drying clay mined from the site. The kiln was dismantled and removed in1991. The landfill's 1994 operating permit requires the operator to institute an air monitoringprogram for any emissions from landfill operations. In 1994, Laidlaw prepared an Ambient AirMonitoring Plan that is currently (summer 1997) under review by SCDHEC. In September 1997,SCDHEC requested that ATSDR review the Ambient Air Monitoring Sampling Plan. ATSDRagreed to review the sampling plan and provide comments to SCDHEC.
Health outcome data available to ATSDR do not indicate that operations at the site have resultedin adverse health effects in residents living near the landfill. Stress associated with living near theGSX landfill is the primary health effect reported by residents.
Using available information, ATSDR concludes that the GSX site is an indeterminate public healthhazard. There is no evidence that persons have been exposed to hazardous substances atconcentrations likely to cause adverse health effects. However, ATSDR has identified data gapsthat limit ATSDR's ability to fully evaluate the site. The agency recommends the collection of off-site air samples and the continued treatment and monitoring of contaminated groundwater. Surface water discharges to Lake Marion and to groundwater downgradient from the waste cellsshould continue to be monitored. The landfill's operating permits currently require quarterlysampling of downgradient monitoring wells and on-site streams; these sampling data aresubmitted to EPA and the SCDHEC for review. In addition, laws regulating transportation ofhazardous wastes and the speeds of trucks hauling wastes should be strictly enforced.
ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) reviewed the GSX site to determinewhether any follow-up health activities are necessary. ATSDR will evaluate air sampling datawhen it becomes available and will update this Petitioned Public Health Assessment (PPHA) asappropriate. After exposure information becomes available, ATSDR will consider theappropriateness of a health study and conducting an environmental health education program toadvise public health professionals and the local medical community of the nature and possibleconsequences of exposure to contaminants at the GSX site.
ATSDR released the GSX Landfill PPHA for public review and comment for a 30-day periodbeginning July 19, 1993, and ending August 17, 1993.The purpose of the public comment periodwas to give the public and/or interested parties an opportunity to voice additional concerns aboutthe site or to make comments pertaining to the GSX Landfill PPHA. ATSDR received commentsduring this period and has incorporated the comments into Appendix E.
The GSX landfill(2) is located approximately 40 miles southeast of Columbia, in Sumter County,South Carolina. The site is adjacent to the eastern shore of Lake Marion and lies in a ruralagricultural area approximately 1.5 miles northwest of the town of Rimini. The site's location isshown in Figure 1 of Appendix A. GSX Chemical Services, Inc. (GSX) operated a commercialhazardous waste landfill at the site from 1984 until 1989. Since 1989, Laidlaw EnvironmentalServices (Laidlaw) has operated the facility. Laidlaw currently employs 76 on-site workers. Wastes are transported to the site by rail and truck from a variety of hazardous and nonhazardouswaste generators in the eastern United States.
The 280-acre site consists of a two-lane gravel, access road leading west from Route 51 to a gate,with a series of administrative and process buildings just west of the entrance gate. A rotary kiln,used to dry opaline claystone until 1990, sat on a small bluff southwest of the entrance gate untilthe kiln was removed in 1991. A large, open, active hazardous waste disposal cell (Section III) isnorthwest of the buildings. Hazardous waste is pretreated in a waste treatment area beforelandfilling. Laidlaw installed a large enclosure over the waste treatment area in the summer of1997 to limit the dust generated during pretreatment. A fingerprint laboratory in the wastetreatment area is used to ensure that incoming waste matches the physical properties described bythe generator. A larger laboratory located near the administrative buildings is used when a morein-depth chemical analysis of received waste is needed; this laboratory is certified by the SouthCarolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) to perform several metalsanalyses. Two grass-covered, closed sections of the landfill (Section I and Section II) are locatedsouthwest and west of the open cell. West of Sections I and II lies the site property boundary, abuffer zone wetland owned by the Santee-Cooper Water Resources Authority, and then LakeMarion. Two sedimentation ponds are on the western portion of the site. East of Route 51 lies adirt road with a bar gate that leads to a bulk-waste-transfer rail station where waste is loaded andunloaded. The transfer point consists of a small concrete pad beneath an open-sided shed with acorrugated metal roof. Figure 2 in Appendix A shows important features, on the GSX site.
Land at the site was used for agriculture until the mid 1970s, when an opaline claystone miningoperation began on site (1). The claystone was used to produce sanitary absorbent "kitty litter." In 1977, the mining operator applied for a SCDHEC industrial waste disposal permit. After apermit was granted in 1977, wastes were deposited into unlined pits.
The landfill was purchased by SCA Services, Inc. (SCA), in 1978 (1). SCA upgraded the disposalpits by placing a compacted clay layer (several feet thick) on the bottom of the pits and installing asynthetic liner over the clay liner. SCA also installed a leachate collection system andgroundwater monitoring wells. SCA applied for and was granted interim status under theResource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1980. Wastes previously deposited inunlined pits were excavated and placed in lined cells by 1979.
GSX purchased the landfill from SCA in 1984, and expanded the operation to include newdouble-lined cells with leachate collection and detection systems, as required under the 1984Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) to RCRA (2). The landfill's design exceededregulatory standards, with an additional 5 feet of clay liner. A series of regulatory actionsculminated in a draft RCRA operating permit in September 1988. Since 1984, severalenvironmental sampling studies and public health evaluations have been conducted in response tocitizens' concerns about the impact of the landfill on the surrounding community. Laidlawpurchased the landfill from GSX in 1989. Following a lengthy appeal process initiated by Laidlawand various citizens groups, SCDHEC issued an operating permit, effective in March 1994. As ofthe summer of 1997, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) operating permit is pending.
Residents living near the landfill expressed concerns that the facility could adversely affect theirhealth. The Citizens Asking for a Safe Environment (CASE), an organized group of concernedresidents, petitioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to conducta public health assessment of the site.
A detailed history of the site is included in Appendix B.
ATSDR representative, Dr. Virginia Lee, met with the SCDHEC and the University of SouthCarolina (USC) Department of Environmental Health on March 5, 1990, to discuss the GSXLandfill. SCDHEC's information on the health aspects of the site were reviewed, including copiesof relevant newspaper articles, environmental sampling, and health reports. The USC Departmentof Environmental Health provided information on fish kills in Lake Marion (3).
On March 27, 1990, ATSDR regional representative, Chuck Pietrosewicz, met withrepresentatives from SCDHEC and GSX Chemical Services, Inc. During this meeting, GSXagreed to provide ATSDR with all environmental monitoring data and the results of ongoingmedical monitoring of site workers (4).
On April 4, 1990, Dr. Lee traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, to obtain medical informationon the community near the GSX landfill. Meetings were held with physicians at the MedicalUniversity of South Carolina (MUSC) and with a private physician. During these meetings,toxicologic and physical examinations of selected community members were discussed with Dr.Lee (5).
Dr. Lee, Mr. Pietrosewicz, Joe Hughart, and Chris Schmidt conducted visits to the landfill and thesurrounding community on May 17 and 18, 1990. ATSDR representatives met with concernedresidents to discuss community health issues related to the landfill. ATSDR toured thecommunity closest to the landfill, the town of Rimini, and observed demographic conditions of theresidents. Cotton and corn crops were evident adjacent to the GSX Landfill. Residents statedthat pesticides are applied to crops by helicopters and by tractor-mounted tanks. En route to thefacility, ATSDR representatives observed a large volume of truck traffic on state and countyhighways. Most trucks were transporting waste to the GSX landfill. Many trucks appeared to betraveling above the posted 55 mph speed limit (6). ATSDR asked to see areas or operationsrelated to community concerns. The french drain surrounding the landfill cells consisted of graveland pipe wrapped in filter fabric, with cast concrete sumps. At the rail transfer station, across thehighway from the landfill, ATSDR observed cracks and holes in the rail cars. Entrance to thetransfer station was marked by a bar gate and a "No Trespassing" sign. Chemical odors ofunknown origin were noted during the tour, especially near the drum shredding area (6).
On March 28, 1991, Dr. Lee met with physicians from the Sumter-Claredon-Lee Medical Societyand held a public availability session in the home of a Rimini resident. The purpose of the bothmeetings was to gather health concerns related to the GSX Landfill. Primary health concernsexpressed by the physicians were: 1) the need for health evaluations of persons living around thelandfill to determine whether they had been exposed to emissions from the facility, and 2) lack ofproper evaluation for environmental media around the site had not been properly evaluated.
ATSDR representatives, Robert Safay and Maureen Kolasa, conducted a site visit on January 21,1992. During this visit, ATSDR discussed site-related issues with SCDHEC. ATSDR staff alsotoured the site and the surrounding community. One church and approximately 18 homes andsmall farms were noted within 1 mile of the site entrance. The nearest residence wasapproximately ¼ mile southeast of the site. Cotton and food crops bordered the GSX Landfill tothe east, southeast, and northeast. A locked gate and a guard were present at the site entrance,and a chain-link fence with no apparent breaks in integrity surrounded the site. ATSDR staffnoted that the laboratory and rotary kiln were not present on site. Laidlaw staff stated that therotary kiln was not used after 1990 and was removed from the site in 1991. The laboratory wasdismantled in 1992 to make room for the expanding landfill and has since been replaced with twonew on-site laboratory facilities.
In August 1997, ATSDR representative Carl Blair conducted a site visit to the landfill. Duringthis visit, ATSDR staff noted that Laidlaw enclosed the bulk treatment facility with a metalstructure that is designed to eliminate particulate emissions to the atmosphere. The facilityunloads wastes inside of the building. During the unloading and treatment process, anyparticulates that may be generated are collected by a ventilation system and directed into abaghouse. The baghouse filters particulates and the exhaust is vented through a stack andultimately discharged. The baghouse has a reported control efficiency of 99.9%. The SCDHECBureau of Air Quality reviewed design specifications for this operation and approved its use underPermit # 2140-0017-CI.
In addition to these site visits, ATSDR also discussed the site with representatives of the EPA Region IV office in Atlanta, Georgia.
The population of Sumter County increased from 57,634 in 1950 to 95,000 in 1986 (8). Population density also increased from 87 to 143 persons per square mile. Nonwhite residentsrepresent about 47% of the population. The elderly constitute about 8.3% of the countypopulation, and children less than 5 years of age make up another 8.7%. The median age inSumter County has been in the mid 20s (22.2 years, as of 1970) since the 1950s.
Nearby residents live in two block groups: Block Group 2 of Census Tract 18.01 in Sumtercounty and Block Group 1 of Census Tract 9608 in Clarendon county. The population for thosetwo census block groups was 2,107 in 1990. The Sumter county area was much less denselypopulated than was the Clarendon county area. About 20% of the population in both blockgroups was under age 10 years. About 10% in the Sumter county block group and 15% in theClarendon county block group were over age 65. The block group in Clarendon county had ahigh minority population (90%). The Clarendon county block group had a much lower medianvalue of owner-occupied households. See data tables 1 and 2 for a complete breakdown ofpopulation and housing in those areas.
Many residents of the village of Rimini appeared to be of low socioeconomic status. Age, sex,racial group membership, and socioeconomic status are important public health factors becausesome diseases are more prevalent in certain demographic groups, and some groups may be moresensitive to exposure to environmental contaminants.
CT 18.01, BG 2
CT 9608, BG 1
|% Asian or|
|% Age 65|
|Source: 1990 Census of Population and Housing, Summary Tape File 1 (South Carolina). Prepared by Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC, 1991|
CT 18.01, BG 2
CT 9608, BG 1
|Median rent paid,|
|* A household is an occupied housing unit, but does not include group quarters such as military barracks, prisons, and college dormitories.|
Source: 1990 Census of Population and Housing, Summary Tape File 1 (South Carolina). Prepared by Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC, 1991.
The GSX Landfill is in a rural agricultural and recreational area. Lake Marion lies ¼ mile to thewest of the site, with a wetland area between the site and the lake (9). Manchester State Forest is1½ miles north of the landfill. On the eastern and southern site boundaries lie small tomedium-size farms. The nearest residence is ¼ mile southeast of the site (10).
Farms near the site produce cotton and food crops (e.g., corn, oats, soybeans, wheat) and a fewhead of livestock. Row crops adjacent to the GSX Landfill and to residences in Rimini areprobably treated with agricultural pesticides and commercial fertilizer. Because these crops arenear residences in Rimini, residents could potentially be exposed to these chemicals throughairborne application and migration, and through surface water runoff to fish in surface waterbodies such as Lake Marion, to soils in gardens and play areas, and to groundwater and residentialwater wells. In addition, aquatic weed control and mosquito control programs using herbicidesand pesticides have been carried out in the Lake Marion area.
Natural Resource Use
Natural resource use near the GSX site includes pumping groundwater for potable water and forirrigation; fishing, boating, and swimming in Lake Marion; use of soils for agricultural purposes;and timber harvesting in nearby forests (1,2).
Residents living around the GSX site use groundwater from private wells for their drinking watersupply. In the area of the GSX Landfill, groundwater exists within three major aquifers: the Middendorf/Tuscaloosa, Black Creek, and Sawdust Landing/Black Mingo aquifers. TheMiddendorf/Tuscaloosa aquifer lies approximately 600 feet below the surface at the GSX Landfilland is the deepest groundwater zone underlying the site. Groundwater in this zone is found insand and clay (11). The Middendorf/Tuscaloosa is a large groundwater zone that extends overmuch of South Carolina. It is used as a municipal water supply, and for irrigation and industry(10).
The Black Creek aquifer lies above the Middendorf/Tuscaloosa and consists of clays, shales, andsands. The top of the Black Creek aquifer is approximately 80-140 feet below the surface at theGSX site (11). The groundwater in this formation is confined under most of the GSX Landfill byoverlying clays. However, along the western property border, these confining clays are absentand the Black Creek formation is in direct contact with Lake Marion (10). Time-of-travel studiescommissioned by Laidlaw and reviewed by regulators have shown that contaminants from thelandfill would take decades to migrate to Lake Marion (128b). Groundwater in the Black Creekformation is used for irrigation and industry in the area (10). The Black Creek aquifer may also be used as a drinking water source (7).
The Black Mingo formation lies above the Black Creek. The primary water-bearing zone in theBlack Mingo formation is called the Sawdust Landing aquifer. The top of the Sawdust Landingaquifer lies 20-120 feet below the natural surface at the GSX site and it averages about 30 feet inthickness (11). Although private wells in this aquifer are probably not used for drinking, they may be used for agricultural purposes (9,10).
Sediments on the surface of the GSX site are partially saturated with groundwater under naturalconditions. These sediments consist of sands, silts, and clays that vary in thickness with thetopography. When on-site excavations occur in these sediments, groundwater contained in thesediments is collected by a french drain system and diverted around the landfill areas to thesedimentation ponds. No uses have been reported for this shallow groundwater (11).
Groundwater flow across the site is generally to the west/southwest, toward Lake Marion (10-12).
One drinking water well, installed within the past four years, is present on site. However, thefacility uses all on-site wells to supply non-potable water for dust control and other industrialpurposes (9). The facility supplies workers with bottled water. Since March 1994, SCDHEC hasroutinely collected and analyzed water samples from the well. Water analysis determined organiccontaminants present in the well are at levels several orders of magnitude lower than maximumcontaminant levels (MCLs) or ATSDR comparison values (136).
Surface water from Lake Marion used primarily for hydroelectric power generation. The lake isalso used for fishing, waterfowl hunting, swimming, and recreational boating. No drinking waterintake sources from Lake Marion are within 3 miles of the site (10).
No streams within 1000 feet of the facility except for man-made streams found on site. As thelandfill units are constructed, water in the shallow surface soils is diverted around the landfill totwo siltation ponds that ultimately discharge to Lake Marion (10). Surface water runoff is alsodirected into these ponds (9).
Using local and state health databases, it may be possible to determine whether certain healtheffects are more likely in the area around the GSX landfill than would be expected. This sectionidentifies the relevant, available databases, which are evaluated and discussed in the Public HealthImplications section of this document.
Information on occupational illness was obtained through a report on exposure informationprovided by the facility (10).
Ten children and five adults who complained of various illnesses (hair loss, rashes, and opensores) and who lived in Rimini were examined by the MUSC in September 1986 (13-18). Resultsof these examinations are discussed in detail in the Public Health Implications section of thispublic health assessment.
Residents from the area were examined again by a private physician in Charleston in October1986. Blood samples were collected from 11 children and 7 adults in Rimini at the time of theexams. These samples were analyzed at a private laboratory retained by a group of concernedresidents. Results are discussed in detail in the Public Health Implications section of this report.
Interviews were conducted with two physicians who had examined area residents (19). Thoseinterviews provided information on the health implications of the site.
The EPA Toxic Chemical Release Inventory developed under the Community Right to Know Actindicates that no other sources of hazardous substance releases were within 1 mile of the site.
Individual residents, organized citizen groups, and the local medical society have expressedseveral community health concerns that they believe are related to the GSX landfill. TheSumter-Clarendon-Lee Medical Society has been very active in presenting the concerns of thelocal medical community about the landfill. Beginning in 1987, the Sumter-Clarendon-LeeMedical Society has sponsored several resolutions calling for the closure of the facility that wereunanimously passed by the South Carolina Medical Association (SCMA). Although publicinterest in these landfill-related health concerns has historically been high, it has decreased sincethe state issued the landfill operating permit in 1994.
Community health concerns related to the GSX Landfill may be grouped into three broadcategories: environmental monitoring, waste disposal operations, and health effects in thesurrounding communities (20).
Residents have expressed the following concerns regarding environmental monitoring.
1. Air emissions from deposits of waste dusts into cells are not routinely monitored at potentialemission points, the site perimeter, or off-site potential human exposure points. Past air emissionsfrom burning waste oil, used to fuel the rotary kiln, also were not monitored. Residents areconcerned that burning waste oil at low temperatures did not thermally destroy organiccompounds and that these compounds were released into the atmosphere. Representatives of themedical society expressed concern regarding the lack of adequate air monitoring around thefacility.
2. Residents were concerned that groundwater contamination detected on site may migrate tooff-site water wells or to Lake Marion. They also expressed concern that monitoring conductedby SCDHEC did not include all potential hazardous substances that could have been present inthe residential water wells. The medical society is concerned that the hydrogeology of the site hasnot been fully characterized, and that present monitoring may therefore not be adequate.
3. Residents were also concerned that migration of contaminants into Lake Marion viacontaminated air, surface water, and groundwater may result in contamination of fish andsubsequent human exposure to contaminants.
Some residents have expressed concern that waste disposal operations have resulted in humanexposure to contaminants.
1. Residents have stated that trucks transporting wastes to the GSX Landfill travel at excessivespeeds on state and county highways, presenting a physical hazard to other motorists. They alsostated that the volume of waste-transporter truck traffic on roads leading to the landfill isexcessive. They expressed concern that some truckloads of waste leaked, or were burning, orwere spilled en route to the landfill.
2. Residents were concerned that rail cars transporting waste to the landfill may have leaked,resulting in releases of hazardous substances to the environment.
3. Residents were also concerned about odors and dust migrating from the landfill to residentialareas.
Residents expressed concern that the following health issues may be related to the GSX landfill.
1. Residents believed that, because of the lack of environmental monitoring in the past(particularly from 1978 to 1985), the community may have sustained adverse health effects. Thecommunity is also worried that current environmental monitoring systems at the site are notcapable of detecting site contaminants.
2. Residents also questioned whether volatile organic compounds (VOCs) detected in bloodsamples collected from residents in Rimini may be related to releases of VOCs into groundwateron the site, or may be related to releases of organic compounds into the atmosphere from disposaloperations at the cells or from burning waste oil at the rotary kiln.
3. Residents were concerned that open sores, skin rashes, hair loss, and nausea experienced by Rimini residents may have resulted from exposure to contaminants migrating from the GSX site.
4. Residents expressed concern that one case of fever in an 18-month old female infant may haveresulted from eating contaminated fish caught in Lake Marion. The fish reportedly had opensores that were cut out before being cooked.
5. The medical community was concerned that the effects of long-term, low-level exposures tomost of these compounds are not known; therefore, physicians may not be aware of the types ofmonitoring or testing to conduct to detect exposure.
Because of these concerns, residents requested that ATSDR proceed directly to a health study ofthe community, which would include obtaining tissue and blood samples from potentially exposedresidents (20).
ATSDR released the GSX Landfill Petitioned Public Health Assessment (PPHA) for publicreview and comment for a 30-day period beginning July 19, 1993 and ending August 17, 1993. Copies of the PPHA were available to the community/interested parties at the Sumter CountyLibrary (111 North Harvin Road, Sumter) and the Harvin Clarendon County Library (215 NorthBrooks Street, Manning). In addition, news releases were sent to local weekly and dailynewspapers and to radio stations in Columbia, Orangeburg, and Santee. The purpose of thepublic comment period was to give the public and interested parties an opportunity to voiceadditional concerns about the site or to comment on the GSX Landfill PPHA. ATSDR hasincorporated into Appendix E the comments received during this period.