PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
COLESVILLE MUNICIPAL LANDFILL
COLESVILLE, BROOME COUNTY, NEW YORK
The Colesville Landfill is an inactive municipal landfill which received about 68,500 gallons of drummed industrial wastes between 1973 and 1975. The 113-acre site is located in a rural region of Broome County, New York, approximately one mile north of the Hamlet of Doraville, within the Town of Colesville. In 1983, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found in drinking water supplies of homes near the landfill property. Broome County provided residents in the affected homes with carbon filtration systems and bottled water. Subsequent site investigations led to the closure of the landfill in December 1984. The Colesville Landfill was accepted to the National Priorities List in June 1986.
In 1987, New York State and the potentially responsible parties signed a Consent Order agreement to evaluate the nature and extent of contamination at the site and alternatives for cleanup. A Remedial Investigation of the landfill area was completed in 1988 and identified ground water as the primary mechanism for off-site migration of contaminants. Other migration pathways for site-related contaminants include runoff of contaminated soils and leachate migration to surface water bodies. Site-related contaminants including inorganic compounds and VOCs have been found in ground water, leachate and stream sediment. Ground water quality standards are exceeded for site-related organic compounds both on and off-site. Silver, cadmium and arsenic in on-site ground water exceed standards.
Existing and potential human exposure routes include: ingestion, inhalation and dermal absorption of VOCs in potable water; direct contact with soil, surface water and stream sediments; direct contact and inhalation of contaminants in surficial leachate seeps and ingestion of wild animals (e.g., deer and turkey) which may have been exposed to site contaminants. Ground water near the Colesville Landfill is used for drinking water and agricultural needs. Broome County has purchased several of the affected properties, which remain unoccupied, and continues to maintain and monitor the filtration systems quarterly and supply bottled water to the remaining affected residents. Currently, there is no fence around the site to restrict access to non-authorized persons.
Residents of Doraville have expressed concern about the potential for future impacts to their drinking water by site contaminants and want the County to provide an alternate water supply source. Previous sampling of Doraville residents' wells did not show any evidence of site-related contaminants.
A Record of Decision was signed in March 1991 and identified the following remedy for the site: (1) installation of a landfill cap and leachate collection system, (2) pumping and treatment of contaminated ground water, and (3) installation of a community water supply well upgradient of the site for water distribution to affected residents. Additionally, ambient air in homes near the landfill will be surveyed for methane gas and VOCs and control measures will be put in place to ensure that methane will not impact the homes in the future. Furthermore, monitoring wells downgradient of the site and between the Hamlet of Doraville should be routinely monitored to evaluate the potential for contamination of water supplies of Doraville residents.
Based on the information reviewed, the Colesville Landfill is a public health hazard because of the risk to human health from past exposures and possible future exposures to hazardous substances at concentrations that may result in adverse health impacts. The Colesville Landfill is contaminating ground water, both on- and off-site, primarily with VOCs. Homeowner wells south and southwest of the site are contaminated. Broome County purchased several of these homes which are now unoccupied. Other homeowners have water supplies treated with carbon filters or are using bottled water.
The New York State Department of Health has performed, and is planning, several public health actions at the site. Community health education for persons whose wells were contaminated has been performed. In addition, the NYS DOH is considering including residents, who were exposed to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) through the use of contaminated well water, on a registry being developed for persons exposed to VOC contaminated drinking water. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Health Activities Recommendations Panel has evaluated the site and concurs with the actions taken and planned by the NYS DOH.
The Colesville Landfill is an inactive municipal landfill and National Priorities List (NPL) site. Since 1983, it has been under investigation to identify potential impacts to the environment and human health.
The Colesville Landfill is located across from the intersection of County Route 541 and County Route 29N/64S (East Windsor Road) in the Town of Colesville, Broome County, New York (Appendix 1--Figure 1). The entrance to the landfill is immediately south of this intersection, on the east side of Route 64S. The landfill property is approximately 113 acres of rugged terrain, including steeply sloping woodlands and a large plateau area. Of the 113 acres, approximately 35 acres have been used for waste disposal, primarily on the plateau area.
There are no buildings onsite and the only roadway entrance to the landfill property is via the entrance on East Windsor Road. Currently, a locked gate and a posted "No Trespassing" sign restricts vehicular access to the site. However, aside from the steep slopes along the landfill perimeter, there are no restrictions to site access by pedestrians.
The landfill surface slopes gently westward, steepening sharply near East Windsor Road. Site drainage is primarily westward; however, a branch-like pattern of surface water runoff has developed to the north, south and east. Subsurface soils at the site are primarily glacial deposits of sand, silt, clay and gravel. Underlying bedrock is generally shale or siltstone.
There are no distinctive markers along the property boundary, which resembles a distorted "T" on its side. Generally, the site is bounded by East Windsor Road to the west, Nabinger Hill Road to the North, Penny Hollow Road to the east, and the Hamlet of Doraville to the south. Three unnamed streams surround the landfill property to the north, east and south. The north stream flows south from Nabinger Road towards the landfill and then veers southwest along the plateau area of the landfill property boundary, prior to discharging to the Susquehanna River. The east stream originates just east of the landfill disposal area (plateau) and flows south towards East Windsor Road. South of the landfill property, there are several springs which flow south, towards the east stream.
The Town of Colesville owned the Colesville Landfill property from 1965 to 1969 and operated the landfill between 1965-1971. The Broome County Department of Public Works owned the Colesville Landfill between 1969 and 1984 and operated the site between 1971 and 1984. The Colesville Landfill was primarily used for the disposal of municipal solid waste. The landfill served an estimated 12,000 people and received approximately 9,000 tons of municipal refuse per year. The standard procedure for waste disposal at the landfill was a cut and fill trench operation. Historical aerial photographs indicate that early disposal operations occurred on the north side of the plateau area.
Between 1973 and 1975, approximately 68,500 gallons of drummed industrial wastes were disposed at the Colesville Landfill. These industrial wastes originated from the GAF Corporation's Binghamton Plant and were primarily organic solvents. Exact types and quantities of individual wastes are not known; however, paint scrapping and thinner, liquid residue from coating sensitized paper, drummed aqueous dye and metal wastes were reportedly dumped at the site during this time. Table 1, Appendix 2, describes some of these wastes.
Landfill disposal practices for drummed industrial wastes reportedly varied with the landfill operator on duty when the waste haulers arrived at the site. Drummed wastes were disposed in designated areas as well as co-disposed with municipal wastes. Site records indicate that a narrow trench, which extended for 600 feet along the south-central landfill property boundary, was designated for drum disposal. The trench was approximately 50 feet wide and excavated to an estimated depth of 30 feet. According to site personnel, the majority of drummed wastes were placed in this trench; drums were either buried intact or punctured and crushed prior to burial.
The wastes produced at the GAF plant in Binghamton included dye wastes, organic solvent mixtures, mixed chemical solvents; lead iodide, lead bromide, cadmium, ammonium salts, and other metals. Disposal of industrial wastes occurred in the south and central portions of the fill area. Approximately 468,000 cubic yards of municipal solid waste and industrial chemical wastes are estimated to have been disposed at the site. In 1974, GAF was refused permission to dispose of dye-saturated filter media at the site, and by February 1975, all dumping of GAF wastes stopped.
Because of contamination, the Colesville Landfill was closed in December 1984. In addition, the site was listed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) on the New York State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites. The site was included on the NPL in June 1986. On January 9, 1987, an Order on Consent for remediation of the Colesville Landfill was signed by the potentially responsible parties, including Broome County and the GAF Corporation.
A Remedial Investigation (RI) and Feasibility Study (FS) of the Colesville Landfill were begun in the fall of 1987. As part of the RI, monitor wells were installed and sampled; surface water and sediment samples were collected and area homeowner wells were also sampled (Appendix 1--Figure 2). In addition, a multi-phase geophysical investigation was conducted to determine the location and extent of landfilled materials in buried or waste trenches on site. The RI was completed in the spring of 1988. In 1990, confirmatory sampling was conducted by Wehran Engineering to verify conclusions of the RI.
Public comment has been solicited for all of the proposed remedial alternatives in the detailed analysis phase of the feasibility study. In Spring 1991, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) selected the preferred remedy for the Colesville Landfill which includes: (1) placement of a multi-media cap on the landfill which complies with New York State solid waste regulations; (2) installation of a leachate collection system; (3) pumping of ground water at and downgradient of the landfill, followed by treatment via air stripping prior to discharge to the North Stream or the Susquehanna River; and (4) provision of a new public water supply, to be located north of the landfill, with distribution to affected residents. Engineering design for implementation of the selected remedy was initiated in the Spring of 1991 and remediation activities are expected to begin in 1993.
The Colesville Landfill property has been inspected by local and state representatives, as well as other parties investigating the Colesville Landfill site.
In June 1983, representatives of the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and Broome County Health Department (BCHD) inspected the Colesville Landfill facility twice. During both site inspections, refuse was observed being disposed in direct contact with ground water and leachate was observed at numerous locations on the ground surface and along the slopes of the fill areas. During the second site inspection (June 30), leachate was leaving the site via a creek along the northwest side of the landfill. Water samples were collected from six residences near the site and two samples were collected from private water supplies in the Hamlet of Doraville.
On July 19, 1983, the site was inspected by the Broome County Health Department and the Broome County Department of Public Works. During this inspection, numerous leachate seeps were observed to the north, northwest and downgradient of the landfill perimeter. All of the leachate seeps had a characteristic iron staining; the surface of leachate pools along the eastern slope of the landfill had an oily sheen. Water from two springs was flowing along the south slope of the landfill, approximately 400-500 feet from the landfill perimeter. These springs also had the characteristic iron-stained leachate and were draining towards the creek which flows south along the eastern edge of the landfill disposal area. Water samples were also collected from homeowner wells near the site.
In November 1983, representatives of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, conducted a detailed assessment and documented existing environmental and public health concerns at the Colesville Landfill. Exposed piles of refuse, leaking containers, leachate seepage and discolored surface water in drainage ditches were observed. Those residents immediately adjacent to the site with private water supply wells were of primary concern.
A site visit was conducted by Claudine Jones and Susan Collamer of the NYSDOH in January 31, 1991, to assess general post-closure demographics (e.g., proximity of remaining occupied residences to the landfill) as well as current site accessibility. Currently, roadway access to the landfill disposal area is restricted at the site entrance by a locked gate; a "No Trespassing" sign is also posted on the gate. No signs of recent activity (e.g., tire tracks or footprints in the snow) around the site entrance were observed. The nearest occupied home to the landfill is approximately 50 feet to the south, on the west side of East Windsor Road; this home is currently supplied with bottled water. No evidence of recreational activities (i.e., cross-country skiing or sledding) was found within the immediate vicinity or downgradient of the landfill perimeter. The nearest livestock pastures were approximately 1/4 mile north of the site on the east side of East Windsor Road.
On December 28, 1992, the NYS DEC project manager for the site was contacted to determine if there had been any changes to the site conditions. Since the last visit by the NYS DOH in January 1991, there have been no changes to the site conditions.
C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use
The site is located in an undeveloped, rural region of Broome County. The area surrounding the landfill includes large tracts of undeveloped rolling woodlands, cultivated agricultural fields, livestock pastures and scattered single-family residences. Approximately 60 private residences (approximate population of 191) are within a one-mile radius of the site, with 367 residences (approximate population of 1,167) within a three-mile radius. The nearest homes to the landfill are to the west and southwest along East Windsor Road, with the closest home about 300 feet from the landfill perimeter. The nearest and largest grouping of residential development is the Hamlet of Doraville, approximately 1/2 mile south of the landfill. Several of the homes near the landfill perimeter were purchased by Broome County from area residents and are now unoccupied.
The 1980 census tract data for the Town of Colesville indicate that the local population (approximately 4,965 persons) is primarily of English and European descent, approximately 80% of which were born in Broome County. The median age of Colesville residents is approximately 29 years. About 57.1% of the population over 25 years of age are high school graduates and 7% have completed 4 or more years of college. Approximately 70% of the working population aged 16 years or older are private wage and salary workers, approximately 20% are government employees and about 9% are self-employed.
A Delaware-Hudson railway service line runs north-south, generally along the Susquehanna River, west of the landfill property. The only known public gathering place within a one-mile radius of the landfill, is the Doraville Methodist Church, approximately 1/2 mile south of the landfill perimeter, in the Hamlet of Doraville. However, this building appears unused.
The Susquehanna River near the Colesville Landfill may be used for recreation (e.g., fishing and swimming) and fish propagation. The unnamed tributaries to the north and south of the landfill could also be used for fishing, fish propagation and recreation.
The only known or registered state wetland area near the site is approximately 1.5 miles to the northwest, upgradient and west of Center Village. No known federal wetlands are in the site vicinity. Some areas along the banks of the Susquehanna River have been mined for natural gravel deposits; however, none of these areas are near the Colesville Landfill.
Ground water near the Colesville Landfill is used for drinking water and agricultural needs. Generally, ground water for these purposes is obtained from the unconsolidated glacial outwash deposits. Ground water in the site area also recharges local streams and the Susquehanna River.
The New York State Health Department maintains several health outcome data bases which could be used to generate site specific data if warranted. These data bases include the cancer registry, the congenital malformations registry, the heavy metals registry, the occupational lung disease registry, the pesticide poisoning registry, vital records (birth and death certificates) and hospital discharge information.
The Broome County Health Department (BCHD) conducted a study of cancer incidence in areas of the County where organic chemical contamination of water supplies had occurred or where there was public perception that contamination had occurred. The Town of Colesville was one of the areas studied. The results of this study are presented in a 1986 BCHD report entitled, "Cancer Occurrence by Common Drinking Water Source-Broome County, NY: 1976-1980" and are outlined in the Public Health Implications section.
Between 1983 and 1985, the NYSDOH received several letters from residents living near the Colesville Landfill, as well as copies of letters directed to public officials. In these letters, citizens expressed concern for their health and well-being because of potential exposure to chemicals that may have migrated from the landfill. Several of the letters listed specific family and community illnesses including reproductive, central nervous system and carcinogenic effects, as well as dermal, gastric and urinary tract irritations.
In November 1990, the NYSDOH surveyed homeowners on East Windsor Road, whose wells had been impacted by previous waste disposal activities at the Colesville Landfill, to determine their preference for remediation of their water supplies. The two proposed remedial action alternatives presented to the homeowners were (1) upgrading the existing filter systems or (2) a new water supply. The majority of impacted homeowners preferred a new water supply.
On January 30, 1991, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), in conjunction with the NYSDEC, held a public meeting to inform the public of EPA's and NYSDEC's preferred remedy and solicited public comments on all the remedial alternatives, as well as the preferred alternative. NYSDOH attended this meeting to address health-related questions posed by the public.
The only health-based concern raised at this meeting was asked by a representative of a citizen's action group for the Hamlet of Doraville, who questioned the basis for excluding residents of Doraville from the proposed water supply. The response was that previous sampling of Doraville residents' wells did not show any site-related contaminants. The representative for the Citizens Action of New York cited that one Doraville resident had been supplied with a carbon filter and ultra-violet light system for water treatment and thus, warranted inclusion within the new water supply distribution. The citizen's action group representative also stated that one Doraville resident tested her water supply and the results differ from those of the county. The residents of Doraville would like to access the new water supply.
Between April 17 and June 9, 1992, the NYS DOH conducted a public comment period for the public health assessment for the Colesville Landfill site. The NYS DOH sent 62 copies of the public health assessment to persons on the mailing list for the Colesville Landfill site. The responses to comments received during the public comment period are shown in Appendix 3.