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

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

MEDLEY FARMS
GAFFNEY, CHEROKEE COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA


SUMMARY

The Medley Farm site (Medley) is located in Cherokee County, near the town of Gaffney,SouthCarolina. The site consists of a 7-acre parcel of land within a 61.9 acre tract of farmland. Basedupon available information, the site was maintained as woods and pasture land prior to themid-1970s. The site was used by several industrial firms from 1973 to 1976 to dispose of avariety ofchemicals in drums and in unlined lagoons. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)conducted an emergency clean-up of the site in 1983. This involved the removal of approximately5,383 55-gallon drums and 15-gallon containers (many of which were leaking), 70,000 gallons ofcontaminated water from 6 on-site lagoons (which were backfilled after they were drained), andanundetermined amount of surface soil. The site was proposed for inclusion into the NPL in June1986 and was included in March 1989.

No public concerns have been expressed in many years. In 1983, after the site clean-up, fourlocalresidents expressed concerns about the possible contamination of their private drinking waterwellsand the possible health effects that could result from its use. Municipal water has been madeavailable to the residents.

Environmental contamination appears to be confined to the site. Contaminants identifiedas beingof concern at the Medley site include: benzene, chlorinated aliphatic compounds (CACs), and1,2,4-trichlorobenzene. Although the site is unrestricted, access is limited through the owner'sdriveway. Thus, exposures to thegeneral public are unlikely.

The site is classified as being a no apparent public health hazard because the availabledata do notindicate that humans are being exposed to levels of contamination that would be expected tocauseadverse health effects. The groundwater plume is restricted to the site,and exposures to surface soilare unlikely.

We recommend that local drinking water wells be sampled and that all possible sources ofcontamination in the area unrelated to the site be identified. SCDHEC will also restrict theissuanceof well drilling permits for drinking water wells within the area of groundwater contamination.

This public health assessment was reviewed by the ATSDR Health ActivitiesRecommendationPanel (HARP). The review recommended that the local private well owners need informationaboutthe potential for exposures to contaminants found in these wells. HARP does not recommendadditional actions at this time. ATSDR and SCDHEC will review additional data as they becomeavailable.


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 this site. SCDHEC will determine whether health effectsare possible and will recommend actions to reduce or prevent possible health effects. ATSDR, inAtlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesandis authorized by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of1980 (CERCLA) to conduct public health assessments at hazardous waste sites.

A. Site Description and History

The Medley Farm National Priorities List (NPL) site is a 7-acre section of the Medley Farm whichoccupies 61.9 acres of rural land. The site is located on Burnt Gin Road (County Road 72),approximately 5 miles south of Gaffney, South Carolina (Figure 1, Appendix A). The Medley siteis situated on top of a small hill. The site is covered with weeds, briars, and small scrub trees. Theremainder of the Medley property is hilly and consists of dense forests and pasture land. The landsurrounding the site slopes off steeply to the east and south. The site topographic features arepresented on Figure 2. Site access is unrestricted, with limited vehicular access through thepropertyowner's driveway.

Topographic maps indicate that surface drainage occurs to the northeast and east, to thesoutheast,and to the south and southwest into tributaries of Jones Creek (Figure 3). These drainage areasarefed by smaller, intermittent ravines and ditches surrounding the site. Surface drainage from theMedley Farm property eventually discharges to Jones Creek. Water level measurements indicatethat groundwater flow is primarily to the southeast towards Jones Creek. Jones Creek and itstributaries serve as zones of groundwater discharge from the site (RI/FS, December 1990).

Several industrial firms disposed of a variety of chemicals in drums and in unlined lagoons onthesite from 1973 to 1976. The former drum disposal areas and lagoons are presented in Figure 4. TheSouth Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) first became awareof the Medley site in 1981 when a firm, complying with Superfund's wastedisposal notificationclauses, reported its use of Medley Farms for the disposal of its hazardous wastes to theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA). In May 1983, an anonymous caller informed SCDHECthat barrels were being disposed of on the site.

When SCDHEC visited the site, approximately 5,383 55-gallon drums, 15-gallon containers,andsix unlined lagoons were found. Some of the drums and containers were empty; however, manycontained chemical residues and several were rusted and leaking. The six on-site lagoonscontainedapproximately 70,000 gallons of water mixed with an unknown quantity of waste materials.

At SCDHEC's request, EPA conducted an emergency clean-up of the site from June to July1983. They removed approximately 5,383 55-gallon drums and 15-gallon containers (many of whichwereleaking), 70,000 gallons of contaminated water from 6 on-site lagoons (which were backfilledafterthey were drained), and an undetermined amount of surface soil. The lagoons were drained andbackfilled with clean earth and/or graded to the surrounding site topography. All waste materialswere transported to an authorized hazardous waste disposal facility.

EPA analyses of the drums, containers, and lagoon wastes removed from the site revealedalcohols,acids, bases, industrial solvents, insoluble organic compounds such as polyesters and resins, andsmall quantities of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In January 1988, EPA and five potentiallyresponsible parties (PRPs) signed an Administrative Consent Order requiring the PRPs to conducta Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study (RI/FS). An RI/FS evaluates the nature and extent ofcontamination at the site and considers the various options for site remediation. Sirrine performedPhase I sampling of the Remedial Investigation from October 1988 to January 1990 and Phase IIfrom July to November 1990.

EPA proposed Medley for inclusion to the NPL in June 1986 and added it (to the NPL) inMarch1989. Under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), SCDHEC conducted a Preliminary Health Assessment of the site in 1988.

The Preliminary Health Assessment conducted in 1988 was written before the RemedialInvestigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was finalized. At that time the Preliminary HealthAssessment classified the site as "being of potential health concern because of the possibility ofhuman exposure to hazardous substances at concentrations whichmay result in adverse healtheffects". In 1988, we could not determine the extent of contamination nor could we define theexposure pathways. We recommended that a RI/FS be conducted to provide additionalgroundwater, surface water, sediment, and soil sampling data.

The RI/FS was completed in 1991. This Public Health Assessment will further characterizethepublic health impact from this site using the data generated by the RI/FS.

B. Site Visit

SCDHEC staff, consisting of Edward Gregory, Doug Blansit, Yanqing Mo, and AngelaGorman,conducted a site visit in June 1988. At that time they noted an open field covered with briars,weeds, and scrub trees. The property is surrounded by forest to the north, east, and south.

SCDHEC staff, consisting of Charles Lewis and Lovyst Howell, conducted a site visit inJanuary1992. The property is located in an isolated area and is surrounded by forest. We did notperforma complete site inspection at this time. The site is not readily available to the public as access islimited through the property owner's driveway. We noted that municipal water is available alongthe length of Burnt Gin Road (Figure 3).

Prior surface soil clean-up activities appear to have removed any obvious signs ofcontamination,although we noted small discolored areas on the surface soil during our site visit. On the southsideof the site, there was a purple-colored patch of surface soil (substance unknown) approximately 3feet in diameter. We also noted small patches of a resin-like dust scattered throughout the site.

There was no evidence of trespassers even though the site is not restricted. However, the sitedoesnot appear to be readily accessible to the public since it is adjacent to the property owner's houseandbordered by forest on the other three sides.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and NaturalResource Use

Demographics

At the time of the 1990 Census, an estimated 1,000 persons lived within a 2-mile radius of thesite. Approximately 212 people lived within 1 mile. The property owners live approximately 100 feetwest of the site. Census data for the area within the 1-mile and 2-mile radius of the site are foundin Table 1 (Appendix B).

The city of Gaffney, with a 1990 population of 13,145, is located 5 miles to the north. Therearea few new homes in the Medley area but no signs of large-scale population growth were noted. Current Census figures for the population of Cherokee County are 44,506.

The area within the 2-mile radius is predominantly rural except for a small section on theoutskirtsof Gaffney. Residential housing consists almost entirely of single-family units. About 7% ofowner-occupied housing units in the area were worth less than $25,000 in 1980 (state median was$61,100), while some 53% of renter-occupied units were under $150 per month (state median was $276 per month). These figures are indicative of middle income households.

TABLE 1

MEDLEY FARMS DEMOGRAPHICS

A*. Demographics for 1-mile radius
Total Population: 212
Median Age: 33

B*. Demographics for 2-mile radius
Total Population: 1,003
Median Age: 35

%
White
%
Black
%
Other
%
<10
yrs
%
65+
yrs
%
Rental
Units
<$150/
month
**
%
Houses
<$25,000
%
Renter-
Occupied
A* 95 4 1 13 8 43 6 8
B* 95 4 1 13 9 53 7 12
** Percentage include all rentals; some subsidized housing includes those who pay not cashrent.

C. Cherokee County
Total Population: 44,506

Land Use

Land use in the vicinity of the site is primarily agricultural with scattered residents. SCDHECstaffconducted a drive-through visit of the area surrounding the site to determine local land-usepatterns. We saw no factories or industrial facilities within a 4-mile radius of the site. A few servicestationsand convenience stores were noted. Two elementary schools are located approximately 2 milesfromthe site, one to the north and one to the west. Many homes have gardens and some livestock, butthere was little evidence of commercial agricultural activity. We saw people fishing in ThickettyCreek, approximately 1.5 mile from the site (see Figure 1). We also found empty shotgun shellsnearthe site, which could indicate hunting in the area.

Natural Resource Use

Residents in the vicinity of the Medley Farms site use groundwater for drinking and otherdomesticpurposes. There are six private residential drinking water wells located within a 1-mile radius ofMedley Farms; these are wells 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 (Figure 3). Figure 3 also presents theapproximatelocations of the municipal water supply lines in this area.

Jones Creek is located approximately 500 to 1,000 feet downgradient of the former disposalarea. It is not large enough to sustain fishing and is the only source of perennial surface water withintheproximity of the site.

D. Health Outcome Data

No health outcome data for the Medley Farms site is available for review as of August, 1991. Wecontacted the Cherokee County Health Department, the Environmental Quality Control DistrictOffice, and the Appalachia III District Office for information on health outcome data relevant tothesite area. These offices and the State Health Office had no health outcome data for the immediatesite area.


COMMUNITYHEALTH CONCERNS

After the 1983 site clean up, four local residents with private drinking wells contactedSCDHEC. They were concerned about possible contamination of their private wells and the health effects totheir families that could incur from this contamination. SCDHEC responded by sampling thesewellsin 1984; the results will be discussed further in the Environmental Contamination Section of thisdocument. Additional monitoring of these wells has not been performed since 1984. Whilemunicipalwater supply lines are accessible, there are still some homes that are using private wells.

The Medley Farm Site Public Health Assessment was available for review and public comment fromOctober 15, 1992 to November 16, 1992. Copies of the public health assessment were availabletothe community/interested parties at the Cherokee County Library, Gaffney City Hall, and theDivisionof Health Hazard Evaluation at SCDHEC in Columbia. Additionally, news releases were sent toallof the weekly and daily newspapers in the state, all television networks in the state, the AssociatedPress, and the South Carolina Radio network. This comment period was intended to give thepublicand/or interested parties an opportunity to voice additional concerns or make commentspertainingto the Medley Farm Site Public Health Assessment. The office of Health Hazard Evaluation oftheSouth Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control did not receive commentsduring this period.



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. #