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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

PALMETTO RECYCLING, INCORPORATED
COLUMBIA, RICHLAND COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA


SUMMARY

The Palmetto Recycling Incorporated (PRI) site consists of 1.5 acres of land on Koon StoreRoad, in a rural area approximately 8 miles north of Columbia in Richland County, SouthCarolina. PRI began to reclaim lead from batteries at the site in 1979 and continued through 1983when the company declared bankruptcy and abandoned the site. The site was added to theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) in July 1987.

The main sources of contamination appear to come from liquids and sludges generated as a resultof a lead reclamation operations. Generally, poor and illegal waste handling practices have lead tospills and on-site dumping that have impacted soils, surface water, and groundwater. Contaminants of concern were identified in on-site soils, surface water, groundwater and inoff-site soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediments. Contaminants of concern include:arsenic, iron, manganese, and lead.

The community has expressed various concerns regarding the PRI site. Particularly, someresidents are concerned about potential health effects associated with exposures to site-relatedcontaminants in soil, groundwater, and surface water. The community wants to be kept informedof site activities and the Superfund process.

A completed exposure pathway was identified for the PRI site. Contaminants were detected inon-site and off-site soil. Exposures could occur to anyone who may wander onto the site or toanyone who accidentally ingests or comes in dermal contact with contaminated soils. Potentialpathways were also identified for on-site soils, groundwater, and for off-site soil, groundwater,surface water, and sediments. Human exposures could occur in the future through ingestion,inhalation, and/or dermal contact with the contaminated media.

The PRI site is classified as a public health hazard. This classification is based on the fact that theavailable data indicate humans may be exposed to substances in on-site and off-site soil that, afterlong-term exposures, can cause adverse health effects. However, we need additional data tobetter characterize the extent of off-site contamination. Specifically, the extent of contaminationin on-site and off-site surface soil needs to be determined.

This Public Health Assessment recommends that: 1) access to the site be restricted; 2)contaminated off-site soil be removed; 3) on-site and off-site surface soil samples be collected; 4)the groundwater contaminant plume, if any, be characterized; and, 5) additional surface waterand sediment samples be collected.

In accordance with CERCLA, as amended, the data and information contained in the PalmettoRecycling, Incorporated site have been evaluated by the ATSDR Health ActivitiesRecommendation Panel for appropriate follow-up with respect to health actions. The HARPnoted that the lack of environmental sampling data prevents a complete assessment of this site;therefore, the HARP stressed the importance in implementing the recommendations of this public health assessment.

BACKGROUND

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), under acooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR),will evaluate the public health significance of this site. SCDHEC will determine whether healtheffects are possible and will recommend actions to reduce or prevent possible health effects. ATSDR, in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services and is authorized by the Comprehensive Environmental Response,Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to conduct public health assessments at hazardous waste sites.

A. Site Description and History

The Palmetto Recycling, Inc. (PRI) site is located 8 miles north of Columbia, Richland County,South Carolina (Figure 1). The geographical coordinates of the rurally located site are 340724north latitude and 810045 west longitude. The site consists of a 1.5 acre parcel of land that wasused in the operations of a battery recycling company. Other features of the site include: anabandoned office building, a 6'x 30' concrete walkway, a badly deteriorated framework shed, aconcrete tank saddle, and a covered pit (previously a weigh station). The site is located betweenUS Routes 321 and 21 on the north side of Koon Store Road (State Road S-40-61). PRI isbounded by Koon Store Road to the south, an unnamed dirt road to the east, an unnamedtributary of Dry Fork Creek to the north, and a privately owned residence to the west (Figure 2).

In 1979, PRI purchased the facility to operate battery recycling activities; PRI reclaimed lead frombatteries at the site from 1979 to 1983. The facility pumped wastewater contaminated withsulfuric acid to a collection sump that consisted of a fiberglass tank within an unlined pit. Specificneutralization process details are not known, but at some point, the facility started dischargingwastewater of unknown composition to the local sewer system. A former PRI employee statedthat the facility also dumped liquid wastes outside of the northern site boundary.

The facility continued discharging wastewater to the local sewer system and eventually applied foran NPDES discharge permit in 1981. The South Carolina Department of Health andEnvironmental Control (SCDHEC) denied the permit request. As a result, PRI shipped some ofthe waste liquids to an acid recycler and disposed of other wastes on the site. The facility alsosold plastic battery cases and lead plates to other companies as reusable materials.

On February 11, 1983, PRI filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the site. Wastes remaining on thesite included an unlined acid storage sump, 100 drums of caustic liquids, and an unstabilized pileof battery casing scraps. SCDHEC collected samples from the site and detected high levels ofmetals in on-site soils, in sediment samples collected from an on-site stream, and in sludge fromon-site sheds, waste piles, and drum storage areas. SCDHEC also detected elevated levels of ironand lead in groundwater samples collected next to the sump area.

In 1984, workers removing equipment from the site damaged and destroyed part of the roof overthe collection sump area. Rain water entered this area and caused flooding in the pit area whichresulted in sump water percolating through soils adjacent to the pit area. In April 1984, BrysonIndustrial Services, under contract with the PRI bankruptcy trustee, removed 10,800 gallons ofcontaminated water from the site. Later in 1984, 100 drums of liquid caustic were removed fromthe site. SCDHEC determined that additional actions were needed at the site and in 1985,authorized soil removal activities for the site. During 1985 and 1986, 365 tons of soil fromvarious on-site areas were removed.

In 1986, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contracted NUS Corporation to conduct apreliminary assessment of the site. Based on the results of this investigation, the EPA proposedthe site for inclusion to the National Priorities List (NPL). The site was added to the NPL in July 1987.

In 1988, SCDHEC under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry (ATSDR), released a preliminary public health assessment (PPHA) for the PRIsite. The site was classified as a potential public health hazard based on limited available data atthat time. The preliminary data indicated that there was limited groundwater contamination frompast operations at the site. The data did not determine the vertical or horizontal extent ofgroundwater contamination. The PPHA recommended that additional investigations (in the formof a Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study (RI/FS)) be completed to better characterize thesite classification and to assess public health concerns.

In 1992, the EPA contracted CDM Federal Programs Corporation to conduct the RI/FS. InNovember 1994, the EPA released the final version of the Remedial Investigation Report (RI) forthe site. As part of the RI, all media were sampled to determine the extent of on-site and off-sitecontamination. The RI serves as the primary source document for this public health assessment. Remedial investigation activities continue at the site.

B. Site Visit

On June 30, 1994, William Going (SCDHEC project staff member) performed a PRI site visit anddrove by the neighborhoods surrounding the site. In general, site conditions have not changedsignificantly since previous site visits. The site was very accessible; the gate at the entrance of thesite was closed but not locked and the barb wire fence that surrounds the site is not continuousand is in a deteriorated condition. The fence poses more of a physical hazard to those who try to enter the site than it serves as a site barrier.

Unlike observations made during a previous site visit in 1991: 1) an EPA identifier sign wasposted on the gate at the entrance of the site; 2) the pit located in front of the former officebuilding was filled in; and, 3) a fenced area containing approximately 320 55-gallon drums waslocated east of the former office building (the EPA states that these drums generated as part of RIactivities at the site and do not contain waste generated during operation of the PalmettoRecycling Facility). Another difference noted during the 1994 site visit was a mailbox locatednear the eastern border of the site. The mailbox was listed for "Combat USA" - an organizationthat sponsors mock war (paintball) games. During the 1991 site visit, project staff noted that thesite was used as a crossing spot for people that participated in these games; however, the site nolonger displays an entrance sign near the former office building for the games (Figure 3). No dataare available to indicate when this activity ceased.

Staff also noted similar observations as those noted during the 1991 site visit: 1) the former officebuilding still poses a physical hazard as access to the building is unrestricted (it has no doors andthe windows are broken) and it is littered with various domestic/other debris (2-liter soda bottles,mattresses, boots, insulation, ceiling tiles, and wood); 2) a partially roofed collection sump area islocated in the middle of the site; and, 3) various debris and overgrown vegetative cover pose a physical hazard on the site.

Project staff noted several middle-income residences near the site. There are approximately 50residences within a mile of the site; four of these residences are located within a tenth of a milefrom the site. The closest residence is approximately 500 feet from the southern border of thesite. Several residential yards displayed children's toys, while other areas within a 1-mile radius of the site are used for horses.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

The PRI site is located approximately eight miles north of Columbia, South Carolina. Columbiahas a 1993 census population estimate of 98,052 residents. The site is located in Richland Countywhich has a 1993 census population estimate of 285,720 people. The Remedial Investigationreports that people who live in the vicinity of the PRI site are long-term residents. Table 1presents the demographic breakdown of a 1-mile and 2-mile radius of the site.

Land Use

The Remedial Investigation reports that land use within a 1-mile radius of the site is primarilyresidential, commercial, and agricultural. Commercial facilities include a container manufacturer,a nursing home, and an auto repair facility.

TABLE 1
PALMETTO RECYCLING SITE DEMOGRAPHICS


A*.Demographics for 1-mile radius
Total Population329
(Census)


B*.Demographics for 2-mile radius
Total Population2161
(Census)


Percent
White
Percent
Black
Percent
Other
Percent
<10 yrs
Percent
65+yrs
Percent
Rental
Units
<$200/
month
Percent
Houses
<$50,000
Percent
Renter-
Occupied
A* 47530191231619
B* 43561186341612
*Percentage includes all rentals; some subsidized housing includes those who pay no cash rent.

C. Richland County

      Total Population 285,720

Natural Resource Use

The EPA-generated Community Relations Plan (CRP) indicates that almost all residences andbusinesses within a 3-mile radius of the site obtain drinking water from private wells that drawfrom one aquifer. A few homes in the vicinity of the site, a trailer park, the state prison, and thestate mental hospital are connected to the Columbia public water system.

The RI states that some of the area residents receive potable water from the Broad River and/orLake Murray. These water intakes are located more than three miles from the site. A privatedrinking water well survey was conducted as part of the RI to determine water use patterns in thearea. The results of the survey identified 52 private wells in the area; at least 35 of these wells arelocated within a 1-mile radius of the site. Twenty of these wells are used for drinking waterpurposes and the remainder are used for irrigation or household purposes or not used at all.

D. Health Outcome Data

No health outcome data are available for review for the Palmetto Recycling site or for thecommunities near the site as of June 1994. We contacted the Richland County HealthDepartment, the SCDHEC Environmental Quality Control District Office, and the SCDHECCentral Office for information on health outcome data relevant to the site area. These offices andthe State Health Office had no health outcome data.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

In August 1994, project staff contacted the SCDHEC Central Office, the SCDHEC PalmettoDistrict Office, and the Central Midlands District office for community health concerns relevant tothe site area. The district offices did not have information on any health concerns expressed bythe community. The 1988 Preliminary Public Health Assessment did not list community health concerns.

In June 1992, EPA representatives interviewed members of the community to gather communityhealth concerns. Concerns included: 1) potential health risks presented by the unrestricted site; 2)lack of information regarding the Superfund process; 3) health risks associated with exposures towaste materials from the site; and, 4) completeness of the information provided to them to date. Community members were also concerned that the old abandoned scale pit is filled with water andposes a physical hazard to people who may wander onto the site. Residents requested that theEPA fence off the area to prevent access to the site and that they post a sign identifying the area as a hazardous waste site.

Community members were also concerned about the quality of their private drinking water wells;in particular, what health effects could be anticipated from exposures to site-related contaminantsand whether they could reduce their risks of experiencing health effects if they discontinued use ofthese wells. Many residents that live downstream from the site were concerned that their wellshave not been tested. Residents also informed EPA representatives that the creek that runsbehind the site is used for sport fishing and for watering livestock; therefore, the residents wantedto know if eating the fish or the livestock would be harmful to their health.

As part of the August 1992 site visit, project staff attended an EPA-sponsored public meeting andspoke with the community about their concerns. A resident was concerned that children who waitfor school bus in front of the site may be exposed to site-related contamination in off-site soils orfrom airborne particulates. She was particularly concerned about health effects associated withexposures to lead. Residents were also concerned about how site-related contaminants may affectcows, deer, and other animals who may access the site or drink water potentially contaminatedwith site-related contaminants. Residents also wanted information about whether site-relatedcontaminants have migrated and impacted the area fishing ponds.

The Palmetto Recycling, Incorporated Public Health Assessment was available for review andpublic comment from June 26, 1995 through July 21, 1995. Copies of the public healthassessment were available to the community/interested parties at the Northeast Regional Library(7490 Parklane Road, Columbia), the Richland County Library Public Library (Main Branch,1431 Assembly Street, Columbia), and at SCDHECs Division of Health Hazard Evaluation(Mills/Jarrett Building, 1751 Calhoun Street, Columbia). Additionally, news releases were sent toall weekly and daily papers in the state, all television networks in the state, the Associated Press,and the South Carolina Radio Network. The comment period was intended to give the publicand/or interested parties an opportunity to voice additional concerns or to make commentspertaining to the Palmetto Recycling, Inc. Public Health Assessment. The office of Health HazardEvaluation of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control did not receive comments during the public comment period.



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