PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
WEST KINGSTON TOWN DUMP
UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND (PLAINS RD) DISPOSAL AREA (URI)
SOUTH KINGSTON, WASHINGTON COUNTY, RHODE ISLAND
The West Kingston/URI Dump site is in South Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island. The site consists of two adjacent, inactive disposal areas that are of separate ownership. The site was finalized for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List (Update 11) in October 1992. University of Rhode Island campus buildings are within about 1/3 mile of the site. Results of limited sampling have identified a few contaminants of concern in environmental media on and off site--principally in groundwater, which is the source of potable private and public water supplies in the area. The geographic distribution of the water supply wells in which contaminants were detected suggests that more than one source of contaminants may be present in the area and that some of the contaminants may occur naturally in the groundwater.
People may have been exposed in the past to contaminated drinking water in private drinking wells. However, because of the low exposure levels of contaminants, no apparent adverse health effects are expected at this site. No other known exposure pathways associated with the site constitute a major public health concern. However, because of information gaps, exposure to hazardous chemicals may be occurring. Although exposure to aldicarb from private drinking water wells may be a public health concern, the site does not appear to be the source of aldicarb contamination. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concluded that this site is an indeterminate public health hazard because available data is insufficient to determine whether people have been exposed to site-related contaminants at concentrations of public health concern.
The ATSDR Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has
reviewed the information and data developed in the West
Kingston/URI Preliminary Public Health Assessment. The panel
determined that no follow-up activities are indicated at this
time because the period of exposure was short, the levels of
contaminants found are not likely to result in adverse health
effects, and the community has not expressed any health concerns
related to the site.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human 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. ATSDR has evaluated the public health significance of this site--more specifically, ATSDR has considered whether adverse health effects are possible and has recommended actions to reduce or prevent possible adverse health effects.
The West Kingston Town Dump (WKTD) property and the adjacent University of Rhode Island Disposal Area (URIDA) property, Washington County, Rhode Island, were finalized for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) (Update 11) as a single, combined site. The properties are on Plains Road, about one-third mile north of the University of Rhode Island (URI) campus facilities in the town of South Kingston. The site, surrounding features, and State Route 138--the nearest principal highway--are shown in Figure 1, of Appendix A.
The WKTD, which occupies the southern portion of the site, was operated by the town of South Kingston as a solid waste dump for approximately 27 years (1). The disposal area is adjacent to Plains Road and comprises approximately 6.5 acres of the town's 117-acre property. The property, which is presently under private ownership, was used as a source of gravel borrow material between the 1930s and 1960s. Wastes were initially brought to the property in the early 1950s by the towns of South Kingston and Narragansett and by URI. Some of the wastes apparently were deposited in water that ponded in the gravel excavations. An inspection by Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) personnel in 1967 showed that wastes came from industrial, residential, commercial, and institutional sources. Citizens made numerous complaints about fires and smoke during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The disposal area was closed in 1978. Closure consisted of grading the area and covering exposed refuse with a layer of soil. No removal actions have been initiated at WKTD.
The URIDA portion of the site is located immediately north of WKTD. The disposal area comprises 12 acres of an abandoned 17-acre sand and gravel excavation area, which was developed on 127 acres of property currently owned by URI. The disposal area is several hundred feet east of Plains Road--the intervening land is used for turf farming. Disposal first began in the mid 1940s, but URI initiated disposal there much later, in 1978, after the WKTD site closed (1). Access to the disposal area was unrestricted until 1981. Originally, the waste materials included predominantly building and landscaping debris, stumps, rocks, leaves, and furniture. However, an inspection in 1987 by Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) personnel disclosed that wastes included laboratory equipment, machinery, closed drums, old tanks, tires, furniture, rubber, and pallets. Wastes disposed of by URI reportedly may have included small quantities of paint cans, oil containers, and pesticide containers. Between late 1983 to mid 1985, URI operated a compactor and transfer station on the property and received waste from many commercial and institutional generators. In 1987, RIDEM asked URI to close the landfill by removing visible waste and providing a final soil cover. RIDEM inspections in 1988 and 1989 noted that some laboratory equipment, concrete, and partially filled drums were still being deposited on the property. URI officials report there are several drums on the ground some distance from where disposal activities occurred. A URI radio tower began operation on the property in 1980.
Each portion of the site has an access road, which ATSDR observed has a locked gate or cable that prevents unauthorized vehicular access from Plains Road. The access road to URIDA extends eastward beyond the disposal area--almost to Old North Road. A student reported that the access road is used by cross-country athletes and other students as a running route.
In 1975, 18 monitoring wells were installed on WKTD property and to the west, toward Hundred Acre Pond, to evaluate groundwater quality (1). Resistivity measurements and analyses of water samples for several water quality indicators showed that a leachate plume existed beneath the site and was traceable 1,200 feet to the west, to Hundred Acre Pond. Later, two other assessments of groundwater quality were made for samples taken from several monitoring wells--one study focused on mercury and the other on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metals. Mercury was not detected, and the VOC/metals study did not provide the investigators with conclusive evidence that WKTD contributed to groundwater contamination. In the fall of 1987, RIDOH sampled some of the private wells in the area, detecting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a few of them.
The disposal sites are depressions, which ATSDR observed extend about 10 to 15 feet below the surrounding ground surface. Hence, runoff from waste areas is contained within those depressions where it collects in small ponds or infiltrates the soil system. Ground surface on the site perimeter is at an elevation of approximately 135 feet (National Geodetic Datum of 1929). Surface grade rises to the east to approximately 260 feet along Old North Road and slopes gently down toward the west to about 100 feet along the edge of the Chipuxet River and Hundred Acre and Thirty Acre Ponds.
ATSDR representatives--Ms. Stephanie Prausnitz, Ms. Louise House, and Mr. Don Gibeaut--visited the site area from January 22-24, 1992. They were accompanied by representatives from EPA, RIDEM, and URI. Pertinent information obtained during that visit is described in appropriate sections of this document. ATSDR has not had prior involvement with this site.
The URI campus complex is about 0.35 miles to the south and southeast of the site boundary. A URI representative reports that the campus has 6,000 students in residence and a daily combined population of about 13,000 students and staff. During the site visit, ATSDR personnel noted that the area immediately surrounding the site is sparsely populated. Property between the site and the campus is undeveloped, but is used for agricultural purposes. The closest residents live in a group of three homes, several hundred feet from the site, on the west side of Plains Road. There are several other homes north, along Plains Road within one-third mile of the site. Plains Road intersects Stoney Fork Road and Wolf Rocks Trail about one-third mile north of the site boundary. Several residences and a subdivision of 23 homes are within about three-fourths mile from the site along Stoney Fork Road, which runs eastward from Plains Road. There are a few residences along Wolf Rocks Trail, which trends westward from Plains Road. There are more houses along Old North Road, which is about seven-tenths of a mile east of the disposal areas. ATSDR also observed considerable residential development about 2,000 feet west of the site on the west side of the river system--along the west and south sides of Hundred Acre Pond. Only four residences were noted on the immediate eastern border of the pond and river in that area. Two residences are located on the east edge of Thirty Acre Pond, which is about 3,000 feet southwest of the site.
No public parks or campgrounds are in the site vicinity.
The nearest nursing home is on South County Trail, about a mile and three-quarters west of the site. There are no hospitals in the site vicinity.
Residences occupy only a small proportion of the available land in the site vicinity. Except for the campus complex area, ATSDR observed that the land is mainly used for agriculture and forestry. Turf farming and hay production take place immediately to the south and west of the disposal areas. Land to the immediate north and east of the disposal areas is forested. Land about a mile and a half west of the site and north of the site--within the Chipuxet aquifer recharge zone--has been used for potato farming. Concern about potato herbicides arose several years ago when very low levels of aldicarb compounds were detected in a few public and private water samples in the site area.
A resident reported a small waste-disposal area was active years ago along Plains Road, near State Route 138--and another was at the southwest edge of the campus complex.
A university staff member reported that a woolen mill, which had dying and finishing processes, once operated upstream along the Chipuxet River about a mile and three-quarters north of the property.
The state proposes to relocate State Route 138 to the north of the URI campus and to construct a connector highway to the campus. ATSDR's discussions with a RIDEM representative indicate that the new Route 138 would be well north of the site and the connector would be to the east. Construction at those locations should not impact the site or be impacted by the site.
Natural Resources Use
Groundwater is used for public and private water supply in the site area. URI reported to ATSDR that they have three supply wells about half a mile southwest of the site, which service the university population (total about 14,000) plus the four residences on Plains Road that are closest to the site. The wells are in the order of 95 feet deep and are screened in overburden. The Kingston Water District reported that their two supply wells are about a mile and a quarter southwest of the site and service a population of about 2,400. Most of those customers are south of State Route 138, which is about 1 mile south of the site, although some are a mile to the southeast along the southern portion of Old North Road. The Kingston Water District wells are about 65 feet deep and are screened in overburden. Neither URI nor Kingston Water District treats groundwater. Other water users in the site area rely on private wells, most of which are screened in overburden.
According to URI, the university will be the principal customer of a co-generation plant that will be built on six acres of university property on Plains Road, about a half mile south of the site. The university and plant owner are collaborating on design concepts. The plant will require 400,000 gallons of water per day (gpd). The plant owner has announced that secondary treated effluent from the South Kingstown Wastewater Treatment facility is expected to be used for cooling tower make-up water (300,000 gpd), and the URI potable water system will provide other plant needs (100,000 gpd). After the cogeneration plant becomes operational, water now being supplied by the URI system to the existing boiler house (100,000 gpd) will be discontinued. Therefore, the cogeneration plant will not increase the present demand on groundwater resources. Solid wastes will be transported to appropriate disposal facilities, and sanitary wastes will be discharged to the sewer system.
Hundred Acre and Thirty Acre Ponds, on the Chipuxet River, are used for recreational boating, swimming, and fishing. The nearest substantive hunting is likely to occur at the Great Swamp Wildlife Reservation, more than two miles southwest of the site.
ATSDR has identified the following state and local health data sources as potentially relevant to this site:
- Rhode Island Vital Records, and
- Cancer Incidence and Mortality Registry.
Those sources are generated through the Rhode Island State Department of Health. The Cancer Incidence and Mortality Registry holds information about different kinds of cancer. The population may be analyzed according to race, age and sex. The smallest group routinely analyzed is the census tract but smaller groups can be analyzed upon request. The Incidence Registry covers reported cases from 1986 through 1990; the Mortality Registry covers many decades.
No health studies on the population near the West Kingston\URI
site were identified when ATSDR gathered data and information for
this public health assessment.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, citizens complained about fires and smoke from the WKTD. ATSDR staff members are not aware of any specific health concerns at that time. The burning activities have ceased and no further complaints about fire and smoke have been made.
ATSDR staff are unaware of any present site-related health concerns of community members. No health concerns were expressed to ATSDR representatives at the Public Availability sessions. Furthermore, ATSDR staff contacted EPA representatives, the RI Department of Health, the RI Department of Environmental Management, the towns of North Kingstown and South Kingstown, and the University of Rhode Island. No one was aware of any site-related community health concerns.
The West Kingston Town Dump and University of Rhode Island Disposal Area public health assessment was available for public review and comment in local libraries for a 30-day period ending November 12, 1992. The public comment period was announced in local newspapers. In addition, the public health assessment was sent to several individuals or organizations. One set of commments was received. Specific comments and responses are summarized in Appendix C.