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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

HELENA CHEMICAL COMPANY LANDFILL
FAIRFAX, ALLENDALE COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA


SUMMARY

The Helena Chemical Company site (HCC) is a 13.5 acre facility located to the west of U.S.Highway 321, approximately one mile south of the town of Fairfax, Allendale County, SouthCarolina. In the past, several companies utilized the site to store liquid and powdered insecticideformulations. Currently, the Helena Chemical Company operates a retail sales outlet warehousefor agricultural chemicals on the site. From 1971 to 1978, Helena Chemical Company used thesite for the formulation of liquid and powdered agricultural pesticides. Prior to ownership byHelena Chemical Company in 1971, two other companies operated the facility. The HCC site wasproposed for inclusion to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List(NPL) in June 1988 and was added to the NPL in February 1990.

In 1991, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) incooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released aPreliminary Public Health Assessment (PPHA) for the Helena site. The PPHA identified datagaps for all environmental media and classified the site as an indeterminate public health hazard. The PPHA recommended: 1) installation of new monitoring wells to determine groundwater flow;2) periodic sampling of the municipal water supply well located near the site boundary, privatedrinking water wells within a 3-mile radius of the site, and of the nearby irrigation wells; 3)analysis of deep soil samples in the landfill area and analysis of soil samples along a former drainthat leads north, from the north warehouse to the landfill; 4) analysis of off-site soil and surfacewater locations; 5) that the potential for airborne contaminant migration from the site beevaluated; and 6) that public access to the site be restricted.

From May 1989 to April 1992, a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) of theHCC site was conducted. Samples were collected and analyzed from shallow subsurface soil (1'to 3' in depth), subsurface soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment from on-site and off-sitelocations to evaluate the extent of contamination in these media. The contaminants identified asbeing of concern included: aldrin, dieldrin, DDT and its decomposition products,hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) and its isomers, toxaphene, benzene, chromium, and lead. Thehighest levels of contamination were detected in on-site shallow subsurface soil, subsurface soil,and groundwater in the vicinity of the former liquid formulation building and on the landfill area. The RI data also indicated that the on-site and off-site surface water and sediment media wereaffected by site-related contaminants.

No completed exposure pathways were identified for the HCC site. Potential exposure pathwayswere identified for on-site soil, groundwater, surface water and sediments. Currently,groundwater is not used as a drinking water source at the HCC site and this pathway is notconsidered to be of concern.

The Helena Chemical site is classified as an indeterminate public health hazard. This classificationis based on the fact that the available data do not indicate that humans are being exposed to levelsof contamination that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. However, adequate datais not available for all the environmental media to which humans may be exposed. On-site andoff-site surface soils samples are needed to evaluate possible adverse health effects associatedwith this medium. We consider soil samples from 0" to 3" in depth to be representative of thedepth of soil at which most people would be exposed. One on-site and one off-site surface watersample does not adequately assess the extent of site-related contaminants that may have migratedoff-site. Better characterization of the groundwater contaminant plume and a private drinkingwater well survey are needed to better assess the potential for human exposures and the adversehealth effects associated with exposures to contaminants found in these media.

This Public Health Assessment recommends that: 1) a private drinking water well survey beconducted; 2) surface soil samples (0" to 3" in depth) be collected from on-site and off-sitelocations; 3) additional groundwater samples be collected to better characterize the groundwatercontaminant plume; 4) additional surface water and sediment samples be collected from DutchCreek to determine whether site-related contaminants have impacted this area; and 5) quarterlymonitoring of the municipal water supply well be conducted.

BACKGROUND

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), under acooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) willevaluate the public health significance of the Helena Chemical Company (HCC) site. SCDHECwill determine whether health effects are possible and will recommend actions to reduce orprevent possible health effects. ATSDR, in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services and is authorized by the ComprehensiveEnvironmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to conduct publichealth assessments at hazardous waste sites.

A. Site Description and History

The Helena Chemical Company site (HCC) is a 13.5 acre facility located to the west of U.S.Highway 321, approximately one mile south of the town of Fairfax, Allendale County, SouthCarolina (Figure 1, Appendix A). The site was proposed for inclusion to the EnvironmentalProtection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) on June 24, 1988 and was added to theNPL in February 1990.

In the past, the HCC facility stored liquid and powdered insecticide formulations. Currently,HCC operates a retail sales outlet and warehouse for agricultural chemicals. Prior to ownershipby Helena Chemical Company in 1971, two other chemical companies operated the facility: AtlasChemical Company (prior to the mid-1960s) and the Blue Chemical Company (mid-1960sthrough 1971). Both companies utilized the facility for the formulation of insecticides thatincluded: DDT (1,1,1 trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane), aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, andHCH (hexachlorocyclohexane). HCC previously used toxaphene, methyl parathion, EPN (ethylp-nitrophenyl thionobenzenephosphonate) and disulfoton in the formulation of insecticides. Thesechemicals were formulated as mixtures with other ingredients including diesel fuel, aromaticsolvents, and clays to produce the insecticides.

The site contains three standing buildings, the remains of a burned house, and a closed landfill(Figure 2). The southern-most building is a former warehouse used for the formulation andstorage of dry pesticides. The center building is the sales office. The northern-most building,formerly used for liquid formulation, is now used as a warehouse to store the packaged pesticides. The area of major concern in the HCC site is the unpermitted landfill 100 feet north of the currentwarehouse. The dimensions of the former landfill are 8 feet deep, 150 feet wide, and 200 feetlong. Used pesticide containers and pesticide residues were buried in the landfill.

The site first came to the attention of the South Carolina Department of Health andEnvironmental Control (SCDHEC) in November 1980, when a former company employee and anewspaper reporter informed SCDHEC of a "dump" site. SCDHEC conducted an investigationat the site and collected random soil samples from the landfill. SCDHEC found high levels oftoxaphene, DDT and its decomposition products, BHC and its isomers, aldrin, and disulfoton.

In May 1991, SCDHEC installed two groundwater monitoring wells on the site. Samples fromthese wells were analyzed and the results indicated possible chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticidecontamination of the shallow aquifer beneath the site.

The HCC site is secured by an eight-foot-high-chain-link fence topped with three strands ofbarbed wire. The average elevation of the property varies from approximately 130 to 135 feetabove mean sea level (msl). The maximum elevation of the landfill is approximately 132 feetabove msl. The site topography slopes slightly to the north. An intermittent stream flows aroundthe west and northeast sides of the landfill and into a swampy area. A drainage ditch transects atthe north end and receives surface water runoff during heavy rainfall. The drainage ditch alsoappears to receive surface water runoff from the north of the site via a shallow depression thatparallels the CSX rail line. The drainage ditch flows parallel to the northwest direction of theproperty and is thought to run into the Dutch Creek, a tributary located northwest of the propertythat flows into the Coosawatchie River. The site is bordered to the east by a Seaboard CoastLine (SCL) railroad right-of-way, to the south by a plywood veneer plant, to the west by propertycontaining a municipal water supply and a sewer lift station, and to the north by a wooded area. The site topographic features are presented in Figure 3.

A drain pipe, which originates in the north warehouse, is suspected to have been used prior toHCC's occupancy to discharge effluent onto the ground surface in the area to the northwest of thestructure. The soil and groundwater contaminant distribution identified as part of a remedialinvestigation on the site, suggests that the principal source of contamination was from the pipedischarge and direct discharges from the liquid formulation building. The septic tank and drainsystem on the south side of the north warehouse are also considered to be the significant sourcesof contaminant releases on the site. The two former underground storage tanks located near theoffice are believed to have been another potential source of contamination on the HCC site. Themunicipal water tank that supplies potable water to approximately 2,247 people of the town ofFairfax is located 20 feet west of the site boundary.

In August 1983, the Helena Chemical Company and SCDHEC attempted to eliminate majorsources of chlorinated pesticide contamination from the site. The removal action included a majorportion of the landfill. The contaminated soil from the landfill was excavated and transported toan approved facility in Pinewood, South Carolina. Once the removal actions were completed, aclay cap was constructed (in June 1994) to prevent liquid migration through the landfill thatreduced contaminant transport from the landfill. Ensafe, an Environmental Consultant Companyand HCC analyzed samples from the remaining soil; the results indicated that DDT, DDE, DDD,and aldrin are the major constituents of chlorinated pesticides contamination of on-site soil. Thedischarge area located to the northwest of the warehouse was excavated to an approximate depthof one foot; approximately 500 cubic yards of contaminated soil was excavated and removed fromthe site.

Buried drums were discovered in a heavily wooded area north of the landfill during the soil removal activities. The drums were all found to be rusted and deteriorated and were removed and transported to an approved landfill in Pinewood, South Carolina.

In 1991, SCDHEC in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR) released a Preliminary Public Health Assessment (PPHA) for the Helena ChemicalCompany Site. Due to insufficient environmental monitoring data the site was classified as anindeterminate public health hazard. The PPHA identified data gaps for all environmental media. Based on the available data, the PPHA reported that: 1) on-site soil contamination included DDTand its decomposition products, BHC isomers, and toxaphene, and 2) on-site groundwatercontamination included BHC isomers, dieldrin and metals such as cadmium, lead, and zinc. ThePPHA stated that the detection of metals may have resulted from poor monitoring wellconstruction. At the time of the PPHA, available off-site groundwater monitoring data did notindicate contamination; however, no other off-site media was sampled.

The 1991 PPHA reported no site-specific health related complaints. The document made thefollowing recommendations: 1) installation of new monitoring wells to determine groundwaterflow; 2) periodic sampling of the municipal water supply well located near the site boundary,private drinking water wells within a 3-mile radius of the site, and of the nearby irrigation wells;3) analysis of deep soil samples in the landfill area and analysis of soil samples along a formerdrain that leads north from the north warehouse to the landfill; 4) analysis of soil and surfacewater from off-site locations; 5) that the potential for airborne contaminant migration from thesite be evaluated; and 6) that public access to the site be restricted. The Remedial Investigationconducted in 1991, addressed all of the recommendations of the PPHA with the exception ofsampling of private drinking water wells within a 3-mile radius of the site.

After the 1991 PPHA, Environmental and Safety Designs, Inc. (Ensafe) conducted a RemedialInvestigation (RI) and Feasibility Study (FS) according to the Environmental Protection Agency's(EPA) approved Project Operation Plan (POP). The final Remedial Investigation report and draftFeasibility Study were prepared and released in December 1991. The Record of Decision (ROD)was signed on September 8, 1993. A ROD is a public document that records a brief history of therespective NPL site, the results of the RI/FS, evaluation of all remedial alternatives considered forthe site remediation, and EPA's final selection for a clean-up alternative. The ROD states that anadditional 1,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil were removed from the site in April 1992, andthe soil was transported to a hazardous waste landfill. The ROD also presented the remedialactions planned for the HCC site as follows: (1) excavation and treatment of contaminated surfaceand subsurface soil, with verification sampling; (2) placement of the treated soils into on-siteexcavations; (3) site re-grading to prevent uncontrolled stormwater run-off (4) extraction,treatment, and discharge of contaminated groundwater from the shallow portion of the aquifer;(5) quarterly sampling and monitoring of groundwater and of the nearby public water supplysystem.

B. Site Visit

On November 23, 1992, SCDHEC project staff consisting of Lovyst L. Howell and William T.Going conducted a site visit inspection of the HCC facility and surrounding communities. Ingeneral, conditions at the site have not changed significantly from the observations noted in the previous site visit of March 16, 1989.

Access to the site is restricted through the front gate during the hours of company's operations;however, there are no guards at the gate to prevent outsiders from wandering onto the site atother times. No EPA NPL identifier signs or other warning signs were noted around theperimeter of the site. The landfill area is generally well covered by vegetation; however, access to the landfill is not restricted.

Project staff noted several areas of standing water on the landfill and in other areas around thesite. This could be attributed to the heavy rains that occurred for several days prior to the sitevisit. Small fish were noted swimming in a swampy area bordering the landfill to the north. Inaddition, several fire ant mounds were observed throughout the surface of the landfill and onother areas of the site. The remains of five rusted drums were noted on the landfill.

An operational warehouse is located south of the landfill area and adjacent to the eastern borderof the site. Several pools of standing water were observed between the warehouse and thelandfill. The warehouse manager stated that areas around this warehouse had been excavatedduring the previous summer in an effort to remove contaminated soil, that the removed soil wasincinerated, and the excavated areas of the site were filled with dirt from the property as needed.

During an inspection of the area surrounding the site, project staff noted two mobile homes, ahouse, and another building across from the facility on U.S. Highway 321. They also noted amobile home approximately 10 feet from the northwestern boundary of the site, adjacent to themunicipal water supply system. There was a bicycle, swing set, and other toys in the yard.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

The town of Fairfax is one of the two principal towns in Allendale County. Fairfax and the townof Allendale comprise approximately 43.5 % of the total county population. According to the1990 census, Allendale County has an estimated 11,722 total population, while the town ofFairfax has an estimated 2,317 residents.

The HCC site is located in a light industrial area. Private homes are visible from the site. There isa small neighborhood located approximately four-tenths of a mile north of the site. The homesconsist of low income single-family homes. A large warehouse was noted in this area. Approximately six-tenths of a mile north of the site, there are more low income dwellings andmobile homes. Middle class homes and a neighborhood park with tennis courts are locatedapproximately at eight-tenths of a mile north of the site.

Table 1.

Helena Chemical Company Site Demographics
%White%Black%<10Yrs%65+Yrs%
Owner
Occupied
%
Renter
Occupied
%
Rental
Units
<$150/
month
+
% Houses
<$30,000
A*
4


96

16

11

73

27

65

22
B*
34


66

17

14

67

33

70

20

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

A* Total Population for 1-mile radius: 787
B* Total Population for 2-mile radius: 2,339

    *1994 Census

Land Use

Although the area consists of numerous small businesses and a few small industries, land use ispredominately agricultural. Equipment used to apply pesticides were noted in many of theagricultural areas. Project staff noted large commercial firms and residential vegetable gardenswithin the areas surrounding the site. An elementary school is located approximately 1 milenortheast of the site. There is a baseball field approximately three-tenths of a mile south of thesite and a plant nursery (greenhouse) just beyond the 1-mile radius of the site. An unlined waterlagoon is located behind a small fertilizer plant located less than 0.5 miles south of HCC. The lagoon was designed to accept rainwater runoff.

Natural Resource Use

Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water in the Fairfax area. One public supply wellfor the town of Fairfax is located less than 200 feet west of the site. The well is 344 feet deep andis screened in the Tertiary Limestone, a major deep aquifer in the area. Twenty one additionalwells have been identified within a 4-mile radius of the site; including 5 public supply wells, 5domestic wells, 4 recreation wells, 1 irrigation wells, and 1 observation well. Two of the publicsupply wells, including the system located west of the site serve the town of Fairfax; the remaining3 public wells serve the town of Brunson.

D. Health Outcome Data

No health outcome data are available for review for the Helena Chemical Company site or for the community of Fairfax as of May 1994. We have contacted the SCDHEC Environmental QualityControl and Health District Offices for information on health outcome data relevant to the sitearea. These offices do not report any information on health outcome data or public healthconcerns relevant to the site.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

We contacted the SCDHEC Lower Savannah District Office for information regardingcommunity health concerns related to the site. No information about any site-related communityhealth concerns was available. The Preliminary Public Health Assessment prepared by SCDHECand ATSDR in 1991 did not list any community health concerns.

In December 1989, the EPA conducted a community relations plan and interviewed localresidents to gather community health concerns. The report does not contain records of anycommunity health concerns for this site. The plan indicated that the community expressedconcerns about the site in 1980 and want to be informed about the current issues and/or actions at the site.

The Helena Chemical site Public Health Assessment was available for review and public commentfrom December 1, 1994 to December 30, 1994. Copies of the public health assessment (PHA)were available to the community/interested parties at the Fairfax City Hall, the Allendale CountyLibrary, and the Division of Health Hazard Evaluation at SCDHEC in Columbia. Additionally,news releases were sent to all the weekly and daily newspapers in the state, all television networksin the state, the Associated Press, and the South Carolina Radio network. This comment periodwas intended to give the public and/or interested parties an opportunity to voice additionalconcerns or make comments pertaining to the Helena Chemical site PHA. The office of HealthHazard Evaluation of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control didnot receive comments during this public comment period.



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