PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
NIAGARA FALLS, NIAGARA COUNTY, NEW YORK
The 102nd Street Landfill is an inactive landfill along the Niagara River in the City of Niagara Falls, New York. The majority of the 102nd Street Landfill is owned by Occidental Chemical Corporation (OCC) and the remainder is owned by Olin Chemical Corporation (Olin). The owners and their respective predecessors disposed of industrial and hazardous waste at this site.
The surrounding area is zoned for both residential and commercial use. To the west is Griffon Park, a former municipal dump, and to the east is another landfill, known as the Belden site. The area around the site is not heavily populated due, in part, to the proximity of the Love Canal site to the north and its associated Emergency Declaration Area (EDA).
Many chemicals have been found during investigations at the 102nd Street Landfill, including underground layers of non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL), a mixture of chemicals which frequently resembles a liquid tar. Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxins (TCDDs) including 2,3,7,8-TCDD, have been found in soils off-site. This area of soil contamination has been covered with gravel to limit the possibility of contaminant migration and human exposure through direct contact.
Contamination on-site has been partially contained by the placement of a soil cover and construction of a shoreline bulkhead. Access roads were constructed to eliminate tracking of contaminated soils off-site by vehicles and rutting of the surface material which could have exposed buried wastes. Fencing limits access to the site along the three sides accessible by land.
Residents have expressed concern over their combined exposures to 102nd Street and Love Canal contaminants as well as the effectiveness of the chosen remedy.
In the past, this site posed a public health hazard because of exposures to site contaminants in on-site and off-site surface soils, on-site wastes, and airborne soil particulates. However, these past exposures cannot be characterized because of insufficient data. This site currently poses an indeterminate public health hazard because it is unknown to what extent persons may be exposed to surface soils off-site. Additionally, there has been a potential for exposures to contamination in surface water, sediments, and airborne soil particulates. The current major public health concern is ingestion of fish caught in the Niagara River or Lake Ontario that have bioaccumulated contaminants from the 102nd Street Landfill and other sources. However, there are inadequate data to assess the public health significance of past, present and potential exposures to site-related contaminants in fish. The NYS DOH has recommended that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation analyze fish caught in the upper Niagara River for organochlorines.
Exposures to site-related chemicals could cause an increased risk of cancer. Other health related problems associated with site contaminants are neurological, liver, and kidney effects.
The ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) determined that no other follow-up health actions are needed with respect to the 102nd Street site due to the follow-up activities being performed for the Love Canal site.
Remediation measures at the site will include recovery and incineration of NAPL, excavation of contaminated off-site soils and river sediments. The off-site soils and excavated sediments will be placed on-site and the wastes will be encapsulated within a slurry wall and a multi-media cap.
In cooperation with the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will evaluate the public health significance of this site. More specifically, ATSDR and NYS DOH will determine whether health effects are possible and will recommend actions to reduce or prevent possible health effects. ATSDR 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 (CERCLA) of 1980 to conduct public health assessments at hazardous waste sites.
The 102nd Street Landfill is an inactive landfill that was used for the disposal of industrial and hazardous wastes. The site is near the intersection of 102nd Street and Buffalo Avenue in the City of Niagara Falls in Niagara County, New York (Appendix A, Figure 1). Buffalo Avenue forms the northern boundary of the site and the Niagara River forms the southern site boundary. Griffon Park is directly west of the site and another landfill, the Belden site, is to the east. Both the Belden site and Griffon Park are listed on the New York State (NYS) registry of inactive hazardous waste sites.
The 102nd Street Landfill is listed on the NYS registry of inactive hazardous waste sites as two sites, separated according to ownership. Occidental Chemical Corporation (OCC) owns the western 15.6 acres and Olin owns the eastern 6.5 acres (Appendix A, Figure 2). However, due to the proximity and nature of contamination on the two properties, both companies have worked together on the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) and are working together to remediate the site.
OCC, Olin and their respective predecessors disposed of industrial and hazardous waste at this site. Ownership of different portions of the site was acquired by Oldbury Electrochemical Company in 1924, Niagara Alkali in 1945 and Hooker Electrochemical Company (Hooker) in 1947. Disposal rights were gained by Hooker for its portion in 1942, and the company began using the site in 1943. These three companies merged in 1955 to form Hooker Electrochemical, which is now known as OCC.
Mathieson Chemical Corporation, now known as Olin, acquired ownership of its portion in 1948, and begin disposing of its wastes in the same year. Both Hooker (OCC) and Olin ceased landfilling in December of 1970, as directed by the Buffalo District Army Corps of Engineers.
The wastes disposed at the site included "black cake", graphite, concrete, flyash, lime sludge, brine sludge and other mercury containing wastes, phosphorus, and chlorinated organic chemicals. An inventory of the wastes disposed by OCC and Olin is given in Appendix B, Tables 1 and 2. These wastes were disposed in bulk or in drums as solids or liquids. All of the wastes, except phosphorus, were disposed at the ground surface. Phosphorus was buried below the water table to prevent spontaneous combustion.
Some remedial activities have occurred at the site, including construction of a bulkhead along the river side of the site and installation of fencing along the site perimeter. A soil cap was installed over the entire site in 1974. A dense vegetative cover has taken root, but does not cover all areas of the site. Access roads were installed at the site to prevent compromise of the soil cover. The bulkhead was constructed under the direction of the Buffalo District Army Corps of Engineers. The primary goal of this effort was to stabilize the river bank and prevent erosion. Surface water drains were installed to divert surface water runoff back onto the site. A portion of this bulkhead was extended along the Griffon Park shoreline. The original construction was completed sometime between 1972 and 1973. Repairs and improvements were made to the Olin section of the bulkhead between 1982 to 1984.
A preliminary health assessment was completed by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in June 1989. The potential human exposure pathways identified in the preliminary health assessment to site contaminants included ingestion of contaminated fish; ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact exposure to particulates by on-site workers and exposure to contaminated air particulates by off-site receptors during site remediation activities.
Bulk fill material (soil) has been brought to the site in preparation for site remediation. Remediation of the site, as outlined in the September 1990 Record of Decision (ROD), will include excavation of contaminated off-site soils and Niagara River sediments, placement of the contaminated soils and sedimenton-site, and capping of the site. Non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) will be extracted and incinerated. Groundwater migration will be controlled by a slurry wall, a barrier to groundwater flow, and groundwater levels within the landfill will be kept lower than those outside. Contaminated off-site soils north of Buffalo Avenue have been removed as of November 1993.
NYS DOH has recommended to the NYS DEC that fish from the upper Niagara River and Lake Ontario be sampled and analyzed for organochlorine contaminants including alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane.
Fish from the Niagara River and Lake Ontario have been monitored for persistent chemicals which tend to accumulate in fish. NYS DOH has issued a health advisory for fish in the upper Niagara River which recommends that carp from this section of the river should not be eaten more than once a month and that women of childbearing age and children under 15 should not eat any fish taken from this area. The health advisory for the Niagara River below the falls and Lake Ontario is extensive (see Appendix C for complete advisory).
On October 29, 1987, a perimeter inspection was performed at the 102nd Street Landfill by New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) staff. Access to the site itself was not possible. The three land bound sides of the site are fenced and secured, and the fourth (southern edge) of the site is the Niagara River shoreline. The weather prior to the site inspection had been cold and dry, limiting the amount of standing water that may have been present.
The fence line along the western site perimeter and Griffon Park, is shrouded by scrub trees; surface water run-off from the site could accumulate in some areas along this boundary. To the north, along Buffalo Avenue, the general grade appears to be even; however, there is one low area near the entrance road to the Olin section of the site where surface water could collect. Surface water could drain to the east along a drainage swale and any intermittent flow would be to the Niagara River.
There is one residence on Buffalo Avenue, across the street from the landfill and there are several residences east of the site.
Successive visits since 1987, have shown little change in site conditions. The last site visit was made by Dawn Hettrick of the NYS DOH in October of 1993.
The 102nd Street Landfill site lies within census tract 220, and census tract 224.01 lies just to the north. The total area these tracts cover is about 1.5 square miles. The 1990 population for this area was 5,583, of which 5.7% are under 5 years old, 18.2% are between the ages of 5 year and 19 years, 55.8% are 20 to 64 years of age, and 20.4% are 65 years or older. The ethnic distributions are 97.6% white, 1.3% black, and 1.1% other races. The mean household income in 1979 was $19,444, with 8.2% of families below the poverty level.
Between 1979 and 1989, the population decreased by about one third because of the permanent relocation of residents from the Love Canal area in 1980. The local population is expected to increase somewhat as the Love Canal area is reinhabitated.
The area near the site is a mixture of residential and commercial properties. Many residences in the nearby community are vacant due to the evacuation of the nearby Love Canal site in 1980. Griffon Park, which is owned by the City of Niagara Falls, borders the site to the west and the Belden Landfill site is to the east. Both Griffon Park and the Belden Landfill site are on the NYS Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites.
Griffon Park is listed on the hazardous site registry because it was used as a municipal landfill from 1949 until 1953. Branches and other landscaping wastes were also disposed and burned at this site intermittently between 1943 and 1963, when the site was converted to a public park. Griffon Park was host to many activities including Little League baseball until 1986. Currently, only the boat launching facilities are active.
The Belden Landfill was used for the disposal of industrial fill and rubble and received thiazole polymer blends from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Household refuse and demolition debris are also evident.
Cayuga Island is a well developed, residential area and is situated west of the site across the Little Niagara River.
A water main, a gas main, a storm sewer and telephone lines parallel the site along Buffalo Avenue. A section of the 100th Street storm sewer runs through the site, discharging into the Niagara River.
The Love Canal site is about 1,000 feet north of the 102nd Street Landfill. Homes adjacent to the Love Canal were evacuated beginning in 1978; in 1980, more than 500 families from residential properties on 232 acres surrounding the Canal (called the Emergency Declaration Area or EDA) were permanently relocated. In 1988, areas of the EDA north of Colvin Boulevard and west of the Love Canal were declared habitable. Areas south and east of the Love Canal did not meet the criteria for normal residential use without remediation of contaminated soil. One area of the EDA borders the 102nd Street Landfill, across Buffalo Avenue, to the north.
Natural Resource Use
The Niagara River, which borders the site to the south, is used for many purposes. Boating and fishing are the primary recreational uses; the river water downstream from this site is used as a drinking water supply for the City of Niagara Falls.
The NYS DOH 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, vital records (birth and death certificates), and hospital discharge information.
Numerous investigations of various health indicators have been studied among residents of the Love Canal Emergency Declaration Area (EDA). However, no health studies specific to the 102nd Street Landfill site have been conducted.
Concerns have been expressed by the residents along Buffalo Avenue regarding their exposure to airborne particulates during the operational years of the landfill. Residents of the adjacent Love Canal EDA are worried about their combined exposures to contaminants from the 102nd Street and Love Canal sites. One of these concerns is about possible first and second generation birth defects.
There have been concerns over contamination of the water and sediments of the Little Niagara River, in particular, what effect this would have on swimmers, waders and fish consumers. Some area residents would like the Little Niagara River to be dredged, so the channel can be used, but some residents have expressed concerns about the effects of disturbing contaminated sediments.
At the August 15, 1990, public meeting, the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP) for the 102nd Street site was presented and several concerns were voiced about the effectiveness and implementation of the remedial alternatives. The main concern dealt with encapsulation of the wastes. Residents want to be assured that site contaminants and contaminated groundwater will not "escape" from the site after remediation and that long term monitoring will occur to monitor the effectiveness of the alternative. One resident at the meeting was opposed to incineration of the Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (NAPL) and heavily contaminated sediments. Another resident was worried about incineration of material contaminated with mercury and subsequent mercury emissions.