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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT ADDENDUM

SULLIVAN'S LEDGE
NEW BEDFORD, BRISTOL COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS


SUMMARY

The Sullivan's Ledge site is located in New Bedford, Massachusetts and was previously a granite quarry utilized as an industrial landfill from around 1940 until the 1970's. This addendum focuses on the second operable unit of the Sullivan's Ledge Site, namely, the Middle Marsh Study Area located on Hathaway Road across the street from the granite quarries. The study area, consisting of the Middle Marsh, golf course, and the unnamed stream, was sampled to determine the extent of contamination. The primary contaminant detected on-site was the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), Aroclor 1254, in the sediment/soil, pore water, surface water, and biota. PCB concentrations were generally less than 30 parts per million (ppm) with the highest concentrations detected in the top six inches of sediment/soil.

A descriptive epidemiologic study was conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) as part of this addendum. Available cancer incidence data were examined for New Bedford and Dartmouth and for the census tracts within a one-mile radius of the site. Incidence rates were calculated for cancers of the bladder and liver, as well as leukemia. The 1982-1988 cancer incidence in New Bedford and Dartmouth was about what would be expected based on the statewide cancer experience. Slight elevations were observed in New Bedford for leukemia and liver cancer incidence. However, these elevations were not statistically significant and no new cases of liver cancer were reported between 1986 and 1988.

Populations potentially exposed to contaminants from the study area include workers at the golf course, individuals utilizing the golf course, and children accessing the study area. Exposure pathways of potential concern are: (1) ingestion of sediment/soil or surface water; (2) dermal absorption due to contact with sediment/soil or surface water; and (3) inhalation of fugitive dusts. Although individuals have contacted and continue to contact the sediment/soil and surface water at the golf course, Middle Marsh, and unnamed stream, adverse health effects are unlikely due to the low concentrations detected in the study area. Based on the available information, the Middle Marsh Study Area represents no apparent public health hazard. However, as stated in the 1988 health assessment, the Sullivan's Ledge site, as a whole, is considered a public health hazard because of the risk to human health resulting from probable exposure to hazardous substances at concentrations that may result in health effects.

ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendations Panel has evaluated the site for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. Although completed exposure pathways exist at the Middle Marsh Study Area, the panel determined that no follow-up health activities are indicated at this time because the levels of contaminants in the environmental media at the Middle Marsh Study Area are below those that would be expected to result in injury or illness. These conclusions apply only to the area of the Sullivan's Ledge site known as the Middle Marsh Study Area. The remainder of the site has been considered separately. Cancer incidence in New Bedford will continue to be monitored by the Community Assessment Unit of the MDPH, Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment (BEHA) through the Massachusetts Cancer Registry.


BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and Reason for Addendum

The Sullivan's Ledge National Priority List (NPL) site is a former granite quarry used as an industrial landfill from around 1940 until the 1970's. The site is located within the City of New Bedford, Massachusetts (Figure A-1), and has been owned by the City of New Bedford since 1935. For a complete description of the site and study area, refer to the previous health assessment and addendum located in Appendix E.

This addendum to the health assessment is a result of the release of the (1) "Middle Marsh Investigation, Final Report, Sullivan's Ledge Site, New Bedford, Massachusetts", (2) "Final Remedial Investigation, Additional Studies of the Middle Marsh", and (3) the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed remedial action [4,5,7]. Information obtained from these reports consisted of sediment/soil (0-6 inches) data, subsurface sediment/soil data, surface water data, and shallow groundwater (pore water) data. The "Middle Marsh Investigation" was primarily an ecological exposure assessment detailing the effects of contaminants on the flora and fauna in the study area with only limited environmental sampling.

This addendum to the health assessment will focus on the second operable unit (OU II) of the Sullivan's Ledge site referred to as the Middle Marsh Study Area. This study area, located across the street from the granite quarry, includes the Middle Marsh, adjacent wetland areas, and selected areas of the golf course and unnamed stream. The Middle Marsh Study Area is reported to have received contaminated runoff from the granite quarry area of the site via the unnamed stream. For the purpose of this health assessment, OU II (Middle Marsh Study Area) will be referred to as the study area, the granite quarries will be referred to as the disposal area, and both of these areas will be referred to as the site (Figure A-2).

B. Site Visit

An Environmental Analyst and the Director (Anne Fox and Suzanne Condon, respectively) of the Bureau of Environmental Health Assessment (BEHA), MDPH, visited the site on August 1, 1991. The primary focus of the site visit was the Middle Marsh Study Area. During the site visit, the following were observed:

  • Areas of the unnamed stream had a slight oil sheen on the surface and the water, sediment, and rocks were a deep reddish-brown color. Also, a slight petroleum odor was present in this area.
  • The stream water level was low and relatively stagnant.
  • The Middle Marsh and wetland areas appeared dry, possibly due to the lack of rain and excessive heat during July.
  • There were no signs posted to inform individuals at the golf course of the contamination present in sections of the study area (Middle Marsh and the adjacent wetland).

The site vicinity is a mixture of residential and light commercial areas. During the site visit for the previous addendum (April 1989), development was occurring in several areas around the site. This development was completed at the time of the current site visit and includes: (1) an extended care facility for the elderly about 1,500 feet west of the disposal area, (2) duplexes to the west of the extended care facility, (3) an expansion of the Days Inn, less than 100 feet to the west of the disposal area, and (4) another residential development consisting of duplexes approximately 1,000 feet to the east of the disposal area.

No appreciable changes to site conditions have occurred since the 1991 site visit by MDPH.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

As previously mentioned, significant development has occurred to the east and west of the site. The demographic composition of the recent residential developments is unknown. Therefore, it is difficult to determine what impact, if any, the site might have on the new developments (i.e. children playing on the property, or future development of playgrounds, schools, or residences near the study area).

Currently, land use in the study area is similar to that expressed in the original health assessment. Historically, concern was expressed over possible development of the study area. However, future development seems unlikely because (1) the City of New Bedford has stated the intention of changing the zoning of the site from residential to recreation/conservation, and (2) the Middle Marsh Study Area is in a wetland [4,10]. Recreation/conservation zoning could include the following uses: public and institutional facilities, public/semi-public outdoor recreational facilities, and agricultural uses.

For detailed information on demographics, land use, and natural resource use, please refer to the previous health assessment and addendum located in Appendix E.

D. Health Outcome Data

Health outcome data reported in this addendum were obtained from the Massachusetts Cancer Registry. Cancer incidence data for the years 1982-1988 included types of cancer determined to be of concern based upon the available scientific literature and the original health assessment. Analyses were made at the city wide and census tract levels. Population data (1980) were obtained from the Region I Office of the U.S. Census. Three previous studies were conducted in New Bedford between 1984 and 1990. The health outcome data from these reports will be presented in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation section of this health assessment.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Communication with the EPA and New Bedford Health Department did not reveal any new information regarding community health concerns in relation to the study area [8,10]. According to the EPA, residents in the area and adults accessing the golf course are aware of the disposal area and study area but are not concerned about adverse health effects.

On October 8, 1993, in the New Bedford Standard Times, the MDPH invited public comments on the public health assessment addendum for the Sullivan's Ledge site. During the public comment period from October 9, 1993 until November 8, 1993, no comments were received.



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