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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

CHEMICAL COMMODITIES, INCORPORATED
OLATHE, JOHNSON COUNTY, KANSAS


SUMMARY

The Chemical Commodities Incorporated (CCI) site is in a largely residential area of Olathe, Kansas. From 1951 until 1989, CCI engaged in the resale of chemicals that were surplus, off-specification, recycled or had exceeded their specified shelf life. The site is now inactive. Various chemical materials were stored in sheds and trailers throughout the site and in a warehouse. Health and environmental concerns were raised during the facility's operation because of odors, contaminated rain water runoff, and fires. In 1977 the state ordered a cleanup, and a court order was issued by the city in 1987. Homes are located close to the site.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, CCI, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have conducted several investigations, removal activities, and remedial actions. Chemicals were disposed of, structures were decontaminated, and contaminated surface soil was excavated. Part of that soil is mounded on site. Subsurface contaminants were addressed using an interceptor trench for collecting shallow groundwater and treating it with air-stripping equipment. Groundwater Treatment continues. Plans have been made to remove the soil mound and a brick building.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a health evaluation in 1983, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) began its public health evaluations in 1989. Based on the available information, the brick building and the soil mound pose a public health hazard until they are removed. There are no indications that other exposures to site-related contaminants have occurred or are occurring at levels of public health concern. However, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) likely are being released from contaminated subsurface soils and groundwater. ATSDR concurs with EPA's plans to conduct additional air sampling to evaluate whether VOCs have migrated into nearby homes.


PURPOSE AND ISSUES

The the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) prepared a Site Review and Update for the Chemical Commodities Incorporated (CCI) site, Olathe, Kansas, in 1995(1). That action was taken to fulfill our mandate to evaluate public health issues at sites the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes to include on their National Priorities List (NPL). This Public Health Assessment (PHA) has been prepared by reorganizing the SRU information into a format that conforms to ATSDR's current health assessment guidance. The PHA also updates site related activities and public health issues. The principal issues are hazards posed by a brick building and soil mound, and potential migration of soil gas into nearby homes.


BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION

Site Background

The CCI site, about 1 l/2 acres, is at 300-320 South Blake Street in a largely residential area of Olathe, Kansas (Figure 1, Appendix). From 1951 until 1989, CCI engaged in the resale of chemicals that were surplus, off-specification, or recycled, or had exceeded their specified shelf life. Before 1951, an ice manufacturer used the site. The site is now inactive. The property is bordered by the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks on the east, by a vacant lot on the south, by residences on the north, and by residences across Keeler Street to the west (Figure 2) (2,3). Approximately 13,000 people live within a mile of the site; about 95 percent are Caucasian; 13 percent are children younger than 6 years of age (1).

Various materials in many types of containers were stored in sheds and trailers throughout the site and in a warehouse. The chemicals often were received in containers of poor condition, and leaks and spills occurred (2). Health and environmental concerns were raised during the facility's operation because of odors, contaminated rain water runoff, and fires (3). In 1977 the state ordered a cleanup, and the city issued a court order in 1987.

Investigations and Evaluations

Between 1977 and 1991, the EPA, CCI, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) conducted several investigations, removal activities, and remedial actions. Soil and groundwater at the site were found to be contaminated with high levels of metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and pesticides (3,4). EPA placed the site on the NPL in May, 1994.

In June 1983, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reviewed the site and found that the VOCs shown in soils, water, and sediments did not pose any immediate health concern (5). In addition, the levels of pesticides, and other organic substances shown at the site were not substantially higher than those found in normal industrial working environments. However, CDC decided that the maximum levels of arsenic, manganese and especially lead (300 ppm) shown in soil could pose a potential health hazard. The CDC recommended that contaminated soil be removed and run-off water be prevented from moving onto residential properties.

In December 1989, ATSDR prepared a health consultation (6) that addressed soil gas and air sampling data obtained by EPA (7,8). The maximum level of trichloroethylene (TCE) (0.165 mg/m3) shown in ambient air was well below levels which would be expected to cause adverse health effects. The ambient air level of l,l,l-trichloroethane (0.032 mg/m3) was also below levels that would cause adverse health effects. The highest levels of TCE (0.43 mg/m3) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (0.057 mg/m3) found in crawl spaces of three residences were higher than in ambient air. The author mentioned that commercial products used in and around homes often contain VOCs—including TCE and trichloroethane—and might be a contributing source. The health consultation recommended monitoring air and removing contaminated soil and leaking containers.

EPA prepared a removal plan in 1989 (2), and ATSDR concluded that EPA's actions should be effective in addressing contamination at the site (9). Beginning in 1991, chemicals on site were inventoried, packaged, transported, and disposed of. Structures were decontaminated, and surface soil was excavated. About 300 tons of soil were disposed of and an additional 1,200 tons were mounded on site and covered. Subsurface contaminants were addressed using an interceptor trench for collecting shallow groundwater and treating it with air-stripping equipment. Treatment of shallow groundwater is ongoing (2).

In December 1994, Mr. David Parker of ATSDR and Mr. Bruce Morrison of EPA visited the site. By that time, EPA had fenced the site to prevent public access. The site is inspected monthly. A brick building was observed to be structurally unsafe. Treated groundwater was seen being discharged to a sanitary sewer. Monitoring data showed that contaminant levels in groundwater entering the trench were 50 percent less than before the cleanup began. Mr. Parker learned that groundwater is not a source of municipal drinking water, and there are no known private well users in the community.

In 1995, EPA prepared a Baseline Risk Assessment (10), which identified the need for further response activities. In 1996, under a Unilateral Order issued by EPA, the Rocketdyne Division of the Rockwell International Corporation conducted additional sampling and drafted a Site Characterization Report that included a Baseline Risk Assessment (11). Later, it was decided that final cleanup of the site should be completed under a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). Negotiations are being conducted in 2000 between EPA and Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) regarding cleanup activities (12).

In 1996, an ATSDR health consultation (13) mentioned that Rocketdyne's Draft Site Characterization Report showed nearby residences were underlain by contaminated groundwater containing VOCs that might volatilize and migrate into overlying buildings. ATSDR's consultation concluded that inhalation of VOCs in indoor air was a potential exposure route and recommended sampling indoor air in nearby residence basements, crawlspaces, and other confined spaces. Ambient air sampling also was recommended.

ATSDR's 1996 SRU (1) included the following recommendations:

  1. monitor soil gas and ambient and indoor air in residences overlying contaminated groundwater,
  2. continue to prevent public access to the site until the mound of excavated contaminated soil and a brick building were disposed of, and
  3. continue to treat groundwater until contaminant levels are below levels of health concern.

ATSDR recently reviewed air sampling information EPA obtained in 1997 in crawl spaces of four homes (14). A few contaminants were detected at low concentrations; these do not pose a health concern for crawl space air. EPA plans to conduct residential indoor air sampling in several homes in the summer of 2000 (2). Their objective is to collect indoor air samples which will be representative of indoor exposures in homes adjacent to the site. Ambient air samples also will be collected.

Community Concerns

Nearby residents have expressed concern about intermittent chemical odors and chemical fires that occurred while the facility operated. These concerns have been addressed by plant shut down and through a series of EPA-sponsored removal activities. Two residents expressed concern about contaminated garden soil. EPA believes that site contaminants have not migrated to off-site gardens. A health problem reported by a resident was determined to be unrelated to the site because the resident (and family) moved to Olathe after the plant had ceased operations (1).

Current Site Conditions

The site is securely fenced and inspected monthly. Groundwater continues to be pumped and treated. The proposed removal of the contaminated mound of soil and brick building has not yet taken place (12).

Current Issues

VOCs may volatilize from contaminated groundwater and may migrate into overlying and nearby homes. The mound of excavated contaiminated soil and the brick building will be removed. Groundwater is being treated.


CONCLUSIONS

  1. Based on the available information, the brick building and the soil mound pose a public health hazard until they are removed. ATSDR concurs with EPA's measures to prevent public access.

  2. There are no indications that other exposures to site-related contaminants have occurred or are occurring at levels of public health concern. However, ATSDR concurs with EPA that additional sampling is warranted to evaluate indoor air quality in nearby homes.

  3. ATSDR concurs with EPA's continued groundwater treatment.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. ATSDR concurs with EPA's intent to continue to prevent public access to the site until the mound of contaminated soil and the brick building on site are disposed of.

  2. ATSDR concurs with EPA's intent to sample ambient air and also indoor air in nearby homes to determine whether air quality might be impacted by releases of VOCs from contaminated groundwater that has moved off site.

  3. ATSDR concurs with EPA's intent to continue groundwater treatment until contaminant concentrations are below levels of health concern.

CHILD HEALTH ISSUES

ATSDR's Child Health Initiative recognizes that the unique vulnerabilities of infants and children demand special emphasis in communities faced with contamination in their water, air, soil, or food. Children are at a greater risk than adults from certain kinds of exposures to hazardous substances because of their specific activities and lower body weight. Children's developing body systems are more susceptible to permanent damage by toxic exposures during critical growth stages. As part of ATSDR's Child Health Initiative, the possibility of child exposure to toxic substances and the possibility of health effects were evaluated in this public health assessment.

EPA's measures to prevent public access to the site should effectively prevent or limit child exposures to the soil mound or brick building. EPA air sampling will indicate whether children in nearby homes are being exposed to contaminants in indoor air. This exposure scenario can be evaluated as new data become available.


PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN

The data and information developed in this assessment have been evaluated to determine if follow-up actions may be indicated. Aside from EPA's plans for air sampling, preventing public access, and removing the building and soil mound, no further public health actions are indicated at this time. If additional data and information become available, ATSDR will reevaluate this site for any indicated followup.


AUTHOR

Don Gibeaut
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation


REFERENCES

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Site Review and Update, Chemical Commodities Incorporated, Olathe Kansas. December 24, 1996.

  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Draft Quality Assurance Project Plan for Sampling and Analysis of Chlorinated Compounds. March 2000.

  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Field Investigations of Uncontrolled Hazardous Waste Sites: OnSite Investigation of Chemical Commodities, Inc., Olathe, Kansas. Ecology and Environment, Inc. February 1981.

  4. Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) . Report on Environmental Investigation at Chemical Commodities, Olathe, Kansas. February 1981.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Review of Chemical Commodities Inc. site, Olathe, Kansas. June 1983

  6. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health Consultation: Chemical Commodities Site, Olathe, Kansas. December 1989.

  7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Final Report for Toxic Air Monitoring in Ambient Air at Chemical Commodities, Inc. Air monitoring Section, EMCM/ENSV. October 1989.

  8. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Final Report for Toxic Air Monitoring in Residences Near Chemical Commodities, Inc. Air Monitoring Section, UCCM/ENSV. November 1989.

  9. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health Consultation: Chemical Commodities Site, Olathe, Kansas. August 1990.

  10. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. baseline Risk assessment for Chemical Commodities, Inc., Olathe Site, Olathe, Kansas. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. April 1995.

  11. Rocketdyne, Division of Rockwell International Corporation (probable author). Site Characterization Report: Former Chemical Commodities Inc., Olathe, Kansas. Groundwater Technology, Inc. February 1996.

  12. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Remedial Project Manager's Description of Current Site Status Provided in Response to ATSDR Questions. January 27, 2000

  13. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Health Consultation: Chemical Commodities Site, Olathe, Kansas. April 1996

  14. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Data Transmittal for Activity # AMXL3. August 6, 1997

APPENDIX

Site Location Map
Figure 1. Site Location Map

Site Features - 1994
Figure 2. Site Features - 1994



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