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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

BATAVIA LANDFILL
BATAVIA, GENESEE COUNTY, NEW YORK

SUMMARY

The Batavia Landfill is a National Priorities List (NPL) site in a rural part of Genesee County,about three miles from Batavia, New York. Commercial and industrial wastes were accepted atthe site until operations ceased in 1980. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metals havebeen found in on-site samples of groundwater, subsurface soil, surface water and sediment. Sitecontaminants, primarily VOCs, have been found in off-site groundwater samples from privateresidential wells, a trailer park well and a municipal well. A preliminary health assessment wascompleted by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) in 1989, under acooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Exposure pathways of concern include ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact with site-relatedcontaminants in drinking water from private residential wells and municipal wells and theaccidental ingestion and/or inhalation of contaminated soil by area residents, particularlychildren, because site access is unrestricted.

Community health concerns include the potential for contamination of the Village of Oakfield'smunicipal wells and the potential health risks to local residents currently using contaminatedresidential wells.

The site poses a public health hazard because of past and continuing exposures to site specificvolatile organic chemical contaminants in drinking water including methylene chloride,trichloroethene and 1,1,1-trichloroethane. ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel(HARP) has determined that people exposed to VOCs in private water supplies should beconsidered for inclusion to the NYS DOH registry of persons exposed to VOCs in drinkingwater, which is currently being developed. There are insufficient data to determine if air iscontaminated with methane and other site-related chemicals at levels which could present apublic health hazard. The potential for methane to migrate and collect inside nearby residencesand hence present an explosive hazard should be evaluated, site access should be restricted andsampling of on-site monitoring wells and the Village of Oakfield's water supply wells shouldcontinue.

BACKGROUND

In cooperation with the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), the Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will evaluate the public health significance ofthis site. More specifically, ATSDR and NYS DOH will evaluate the potential for humanexposure to site contaminants associated with past, present and future activities at and near thesite and will recommend follow-up health actions as appropriate. ATSDR is a federal agencywithin the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Atlanta, Georgia, and is authorizedby the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of1980 to conduct public health assessments at hazardous waste sites which are listed on theNational Priorities List (NPL), also known as Superfund.

A. Site Description and History

The Batavia Landfill site occupies between 30 and 35 acres in a rural setting, about three mileswest-northwest of the City of Batavia in the Town of Batavia, Genesee County, New York (seeFigure 1, Appendix A). The site is bound to the north and portions of the east and west by theGalloway Swamp, which is a protected wetland; to the east by the Town of Batavia's sanitarylandfill; to the south by Harloff Road and the New York State Thruway; and to the west byagricultural land. The fill limits of the Batavia Landfill have not been defined and may extendbeyond the property boundaries.

The site was purchased by the Town of Batavia in 1967 for use as the town's municipal landfill. Beginning in 1968, residents of the City of Batavia, commercial and industrial facilities, andcommercial haulers were permitted to dispose of waste at the site. The records indicating thetype, quantity, and location of wastes that were disposed at the landfill during its twelve years ofoperation are limited. However, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation(NYS DEC) has indicated that the following types of industrial wastes were disposed at the site: chromium hydroxide sludge; magnesium sludge; paint and paint waste; ink; lubricating andcutting oils; and spent solvents. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA)identified seven potentially responsible parties (PRPs) as having disposed of hazardous wastes atthe site. The PRPs include the City of Batavia, the Town of Batavia, the Doehler-JarvisCorporation (a former division of NL Industries, the Unisys Corporation (formerly BurroughsCorporation), Eaton Corporation (formerly Trojan Industries), GTE Sylvania Corporation, andR.E. Chapin Industries. Other industrial wastes may have come from other undocumentedsources. In December 1979, the NYS DEC cited the Town of Batavia for violating theconditions of its operating permit for the landfill and operations ceased in 1980.

A waste pit area, reportedly filled with chromium hydroxide and magnesium wastes in 55 gallondrums, is on the east side of the site. Disposal records for the period between January of 1979and January of 1980, indicate that about 300 drums of chromium hydroxide and 20 drums ofmagnesium wastes were disposed in the waste pits. Additional drummed wastes may have alsobeen dumped in the pit area, but the total quantities are unknown because of the limited recordkeeping.

The other documented disposal area is in Galloway Swamp along an embankment on thenortheast side of the site. In 1982, thirty-eight 55-gallon drums were removed from this area ofthe site and the contents of some of the drums were sampled. The drums contained volatileorganic compounds (VOCs) and metals.

Additional drums were found in three other areas of the site. Several drums were found in theback of an abandoned pick-up truck and on the ground next to this truck in the center of the site. Drums were found scattered in and adjacent to Galloway Swamp along the western boundary ofthe site. Drums were also found scattered and partially covered with soil in the north central partof the site.

Environmental investigations began in 1980, with the installation of three monitoring wells andsampling of groundwater at the site by the Town of Batavia. Iron and phenols exceeded NewYork State groundwater standards at that time. Additional on-site groundwater samples werecollected from the same monitoring wells in 1982 with similar results.

The Remedial Investigation (RI) began in 1985 with the collection of on-site subsurface soil,waste, groundwater, surface water and sediment samples. Elevated levels of VOCs and metalswere detected in all media. The results of the RI are included in the draft RI report which wasissued by Goldberg-Zoino Associates of New York (GZA) in April, 1989 and revised by GZAGeo Environmental of New York in June, 1991. The environmental contamination datacollected during the remedial investigation are summarized in Appendix B, Tables 1-5.

Groundwater from off-site locations has been sampled periodically since 1982. In 1985,groundwater samples were collected by US EPA from private residential wells, from a wellserving a trailer park and from municipal wells serving the Village of Oakfield. Some of thewells had levels of iron, VOCs and total phenols which exceeded New York State groundwaterstandards in place at that time. Only one private residential well had elevated levels of VOCswhich prompted the NYS DEC to request that US EPA supply alternate potable water for theresidence (Appendix C). However, the US EPA, with concurrence from the ATSDR, respondedthat the results did not meet the criteria for a removal action under CERCLA (Appendix D). Thehomeowner proceeded to install a new well about 35 feet deeper than the contaminated well andplaced a charcoal filter unit on the new well.

The NYS DOH has collected off-site groundwater samples periodically since 1989. Groundwater samples have been collected from private wells, a trailer park and the Village ofOakfield municipal wells. The samples were analyzed for VOCs. Since 1989, only one sampletaken from a private well south of the site contained VOCs at levels exceeding NYS DOH'sdrinking water standards for public water supplies. Confirmatory samples have not shown VOCsto be present above NYS DOH drinking water standards. However, contaminant levels in at leastfourteen residential wells have been present consistently at and below New York State MaximumContaminant Level (MCLs) for VOC's.

In June 1989, a preliminary health assessment was issued for the site. It was prepared by theNYS DOH under a cooperative agreement with ATSDR.

In the spring of 1991, additional on-site groundwater and sediment samples were collected todetermine the extent of metal contamination at the site. These data are included in the reviseddraft Remedial Investigation report issued by GZA in July, 1991. Also, a surficial drum removalaction was completed in October, 1991. A total of 632 drums (mostly empty) were removedfrom the site and transported to permitted facilities for disposal.

B. Actions Implemented During the Health Assessment Process

NYS DOH has performed community health education in the past for those persons exposed tocontaminants in their drinking water. These health education activities included providing thoseresidents whose water supplies were sampled by NYS DOH with copies of the analytical resultsand an explanation of the findings as well as information about the continued use of their watersupply. Additionally, NYS DOH has performed community health education during past publicmeetings regarding use of the Village of Oakfield's public water supply.

C. Site Visit

On October 17, 1985, a site visit was conducted by William Gilday of NYS DOH and arepresentative of the Genesee County Department of Health (GC DOH). The findings from thesite visit are:

  1. The site was not fenced and was readily accessible to the general public. Operators of the Town of Batavia's sanitary landfill, refuse collectors and other individuals were on the site at the time of the visit. There was a gate to restrict vehicular access to the site.
  2. The landfill was not completely covered and exposed waste was visible on the landfill face.
  3. Ponding of surface water was evident on the north side of the site and surface runoff drained to the Galloway Swamp.
  4. There were 55 gallon drums scattered on the west side of the site and construction debris disposed on the northwest surface of the site.
  5. The nearest residences with private wells were located less than one-half mile from the site.
  6. Monitoring wells were observed on-site.

Additional visits to the site area to collect groundwater samples were performed by NYS DOH inMay 1989, August 1991, October 1991, and January 1992. Other than the removal of about 632drums from the landfill surface in October of 1991, no significant changes to the site conditionshave occurred since the 1985 site visit.

D. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The Batavia Landfill is in a rural part of the Town of Batavia, Genesee County, about three mileswest-northwest of the City of Batavia. NYS DOH has estimated, from the 1990 Census, that 300people live within 1 mile of the Batavia Landfill. The population within 1 mile of the site is 96percent white and 4 percent black. The site is located within census tract 9504.00 in which 6.6percent of the population is under 5 years of age, 23.8 percent is 5-19 year of age, 56.6 percent is20-64 years of age and 13.0 percent is 65 years or older. The median household income in 1989for this census tract was $29,374 with 4.8 percent of the families having income below thepoverty level.

About 85 percent of the land in the Town of Batavia is used for agricultural purposes or isoccupied by woodlands, water and wetlands. The remaining 15 percent is used for public,residential or commercial/industrial purposes. The Galloway Swamp, a protected wetland,borders the north and portions of the east and west sides of the site. The Town of Batavia'ssanitary landfill is to the east of the site and active agricultural land is to the west. Harloff Roadand the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) border the site to the south.

Groundwater is used as a source of drinking water by the Village of Oakfield, City of Batavia andprivate residences near the site. The Village of Oakfield municipal wells which supply potablewater for 2,000 people, are about one mile northwest of the landfill. The City of Bataviamunicipal wells are 4.5 miles southeast of the landfill and serve 16,700 people. All residentsnear the site, including the nearby trailer park, use groundwater as their drinking water source. The Tonawanda Creek is about one mile south of the landfill and, at that location, can be used forfishing, fish propagation and swimming.

E. Health Outcome Data

NYS DOH has not evaluated health outcome data specific for the Batavia Landfill site or theTown of Batavia. However, NYS DOH maintains several health outcome data bases whichcould be used to generate site specific data if warranted. These data bases include the cancerregistry, the heavy metals registry, the congenital malformations registry, the occupational lungdisease registry, vital records (birth and death certificates), and hospital discharge information.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

In a public meeting held on July 21, 1987, regarding the Village of Oakfield's public watersupply, community residents expressed the following concerns:

  1. The municipal wells may be contaminated by chemicals migrating from the Batavia Landfill and evidence should be provided to show that contaminants from the site have not affected the municipal water supply;
  2. The public water supply is not suitable for consumption by sensitive populations, such as newborns, young children and the elderly; and
  3. A new source of drinking water should be found for the community and the new source shouldbe further away from the landfill.

During the private well sampling by NYS DOH in 1991 and 1992, local residents expressedconcern about the quality of the groundwater which they use for drinking, cooking and bathing. Specifically, they were concerned about the type of contamination and the concentrations in off-site groundwater, the potential health risks associated with exposure to the contaminants, and thepossibility of being supplied with public water. These concerns will be addressed in the PublicHealth Implications (Community Health Concerns Evaluation) section of this public healthassessment (PHA).



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