Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

HOOKER CHEMICAL/RUCO POLYMER
HICKSVILLE, NASSAU COUNTY, NEW YORK


SUMMARY

The Hooker Chemical/Ruco Polymer (Hooker/Ruco) site, which is onthe National Priorities List of hazardous waste sites, is onNewSouth Road, Hicksville, Nassau County. The site is an activesynthetic polymer plant on 17 acres in an industrial area. Plastics, polyesters and other synthetic polymers have beenmanufactured on site. Manufacturing of these chemicals began in1945, however, no plastics have been manufactured on-site since1982.

On-site soils at the Hooker/Ruco site are contaminated withpolychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), specifically the PCB known asAroclor 1248. This contamination is limited in area, is in alocation removed from most workers, and was the subject of aremoval action completed in August 1992. Approximately 3,000,000pounds of soil contaminated with PCBs at concentrations above10parts per million were disposed of off-site. However, based on thepast exposure byemployees of Hooker/Ruco to these PCB contaminatedsoils, the Hooker/Ruco site is considered a public healthhazard. Under current site conditions the potential for worker exposure isminimal because the entire site is fenced and patrolled by a 24-hour security force, there is littlepotential for the public to beexposed to the PCB contaminated soils on-site. Institutionalcontrols should be implemented as part of the final remedial actionplan to keep this property limited to industrial use.

Although the information presently available suggests no humanexposure to the groundwater contamination at the Hooker/Ruco siteis or will occur, the contribution of the Hooker/Ruco site to thecontamination of groundwater in this area needs to be furtherdefined. This is important since groundwater is the sole source ofpotable water in this heavily populated area. Because of the needfor additional data, the site currently presents an indeterminatehealth hazard.

The Hooker/Ruco site is one of several industrial facilities in theHicksville area that have contributed to contamination ofgroundwater. Groundwater, primarily the Magothy Aquifer, is thesole source of potable water. Bethpage, Hicksville and LevittownWater District supply wells are downgradient of the site. Thepotential effects on these wells from the Hooker/Ruco site areundetermined. One of the Bethpage Water District Supply wells hasbeen fitted with a treatment system to remove low levels ofvolatile organic chemicals.

Grumman Aerospace Corporation operates a large industrial facilityon the eastern border of the Hooker/Ruco site. Groundwaterdowngradient of the Grumman site and Hooker/Ruco is contaminated. Grumman also has production wells on-site which affect groundwaterflow and has captured contamination, some of which may haveoriginated from the Hooker/Ruco site.

Local residents have expressed concern about the affect of this site and the Grumman Aerospace Corporation site on their water supplies. These concerns have included what effect this contamination could have on their health and who will pay for remediation, if needed, of affected water supplies. All public water supplies in New York State are regulated by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and are required to demonstrate that the water provided meets New York State and federal standards.

NYS DOH has recommended that the contribution of contamination fromthe Hooker/Ruco site to the regional groundwater contamination befurther studied. This includes further monitoring of potable watersupplies located hydrogeologically downgradient of the site. Basedon the findings of this work, remedies may be needed. Additionally, further evaluation of air release from theHooker/Ruco facility is recommended. Institutional controls shouldbe implemented to restrict changes in site usage includingresidential development.

The data and information evaluated in the public health assessmentfor the Hooker Chemical/Ruco Polymer, Hicksville, New York, havebeen reviewed by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendations Panelfor appropriate follow-up with respect to health actions. Becauseof concerns of the occurrence of adverse health effects in thecommunity, the panel determined that follow-up health actions areindicated. Specifically, the panel determined that communityhealth educationis necessary to address these concerns.

The PublicHealth Action Plan calls for the Hooker/Ruco site to beincluded in a study of regional groundwater quality. Monitoring ofcommunity drinking water supplies continues as mandated by the NYSDOH. The NYS DOH has requested that the United StatesEnvironmental Protection Agency and the New York State Departmentof Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) include institutionalcontrols in the final remedial plan for the Hooker/Ruco site. NYSDOH, in conjunction with the NYS DEC, will further evaluate theeffect of chemical emissions from the TRI reporting facilities onlocal ambient air. TheNYS DOH has provided, and will provide,education to the community to address their health concerns.


BACKGROUND


In cooperation with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR)will evaluate the public health significance of this site. Morespecifically, ATSDR and NYS DOH will determine whether healtheffects are possible and will recommend actions to reduce orprevent possible health effects. ATSDR, located in Atlanta,Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Healthand Human Services and is authorized by the ComprehensiveEnvironmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Action of 1980to conduct public health assessments at hazardous waste sites.

A. Site Description and History

The Hooker/Ruco Polymer site, which is on the National Priorities List (NPL) of hazardous waste sites, is on New South Road, Hicksville, Nassau County, New York. The site is an active synthetic polymers plant on 17 acres in an industrial park area of Hicksville. The area is highly urbanized with industrial and residential areas mixed (Figure 1). All Figures and Tables for this report are in Appendix A and Appendix B, respectively.

The Hooker/Ruco site is part of a large commercially zoned areasurrounded by residential areas in Hicksville, Town of Oyster Bay. Adjacent to the eastern and southern border of the site is a largeindustrial complex owned and operated by the Grumman AerospaceCorporation and the United States Navy, to the west within 500 feetare residential neighborhoods and the Long Island Railroad, and tothe north are smaller commercial properties.

The Hooker/Ruco site was developed first by Rubber Corporation ofAmerica, which is a small privately held company. Operations atthe site began in 1945 and included handling and storage of naturalrubber latex. In 1950, small volumes of plasticizers were producedon-site. In 1956, a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant was built andPVC was produced on-site until 1975. Hooker Chemical CompanyCorporation purchased the facility in 1965, and operated thefacility as the Ruco Division. Hooker Chemical Company is nowknown as Occidental Chemical Company. In 1982, the plant wasbought by employees of Ruco Polymer Corporation and it is operatedas a private corporation under the name Ruco Polymer Corporation.

On-site disposal of liquid waste through sand sumps occurred from 1951 to 1975. Wastes from on-site manufacturing processes were disposed in the sand sumps. Two main groups of sumps were used, one group of three sumps for Plant 1 and another group of three sumps for Plant 2 (see Figure 2). Additionally, accidental releases of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contaminated oils from Pilot Plant 1 to on-site soils occurred. PCBs from the contaminated soils then travelled with rainwater into the sand sumps.

The Plant 1 sumps which are numbered 1 and 2, formerly receivedwaste water containing mixed glycols and alcohols. The waste wateralso included tetrachloroethene, methanol, and organic acids suchas adipic, trimellitic, maleic, and phthalic. These sumps were inoperation from 1951 to 1975, though the total amounts of wastedischarged are unknown. The Plant 2 sumps are number 4, 5 and 6. Sumps 5 and 6 have been backfilled and no longer exist.

Currently, only non-contact cooling water is discharged in sump 4. From 1975 to the Spring of 1990, a concrete settling basin has been used to store ester wastes prior to being incinerated on-site. Since 1990, process wastewater is now stored in permitted, above-ground storage tanks. Hazardous wastes are stored in drums on-site until they are disposed at a permitted, off-site, facility.

A pilot plant located between Plant 1 and 2 used a heat transfer fluid which contained PCBs. During the operation of the facility, PCBs were released to the soil next to the pilot plant. Some of this contaminated soil was spread to surrounding areas by surface water runoff and truck traffic.

In 1979, 700 drums of wastes were stored on-site near Plant 1. These drums contained miscellaneous chemical wastes and were allmoved off-site in 1979 for proper disposal. This area is a stagingarea for wastes being disposed off-site.

The site was placed on the NPL in 1984. Initially, negotiations by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) failed to reach a settlement with the potentially responsible parties (Occidental Chemical Corporation and Ruco Polymer) to conduct a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for the site. Therefore, US EPA had Ebasco Services, Inc., prepare a work plan for the RI/FS. In September 1988, after the work plan was finalized, Occidental Chemical Corporation, the previous owner of the site, agreed to perform the work. In September 1989, RI/FS field work started and was completed in February 1990; a draft RI report was submitted in April 1990. A FS report specific to the PCB contaminated soils was submitted in June 1990. A Record of Decision (ROD) specific to the PCB soil contamination near the Pilot Plant was issued in September 1990. The excavation of the PCB contaminated soil was completed in August of 1992.

In June 1988, a Preliminary Health Assessment was issued for thesite; it was prepared by the NYS DOH under a cooperative agreementwith the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Regional Environmental Investigations

Groundwater contamination by solvents near the Hooker/Ruco site hasbeen investigated extensively. The Bethpage, Levittown andHicksville Water Districts, use wells that are hydrogeologicallydowngradient of the Hooker/Ruco, Navy Weapons Industrial ReservePlant (NWIRP), and Grumman Aerospace sites. In 1986, a cooperativestudy of the Bethpage area was done by the Nassau County Departmentof Health (NC DOH) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Organic chemicals were found in the shallow aquifer (Upper Glacial)and deep aquifer (Magothy) beneath the Grumman site. Thecontaminants arechlorinated solvents, especially trichloroethene.

An initial assessment study of the Navy Weapons Industrial ReservePlant in Bethpage was conducted in 1986. Three areas wereidentified as a potential threat to human health and/or theenvironment. In May 1992 a final RI report was prepared whichrecommended that groundwater contamination be investigated further.

Grumman Aerospace Corporation has sampled groundwater in the areasince the late 1970's. In 1992, Grumman Corporation submitted anRI to the NYS DEC. The field work for the RI was conducted in1991. Grumman Aerospace installed two air-stripper treatmentsystems, one on a production well on-site and one at Bethpage WaterDistrict Supply Plant Number 6. Grumman is funding a thirdtreatment system, which will be installed at Bethpage WaterDistrict Supply Plant Number 4. Grumman Aerospace Corporation isinstalling a system of groundwater monitoring wells for use as awarning system for the Bethpage Water District Supply Plants 4 and5.

B. Actions Implemented During the Public HealthAssessment Process

Bethpage Water District is continuing a monitoring program of itswellfields downgradient of the site. One Bethpage Water Districtwellfield has been fitted with a treatment system because of lowlevels of trichloroethene contamination.

C. Site Visit

The Hooker/Ruco site has been visited by local, state and federalgovernment representatives investigating the site. In 1985, 1990and June 1992, New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) staffvisited the Hooker/Ruco site. Lloyd Wilson and Mark VanValkenburgvisited the site in June 1992 to prepare this public healthassessment.

The area surrounding the Hooker/Ruco site is comprised of an industrial corridor and residential developments. There are many small industries, commercial operations, residential areas, utilities, transportation corridors, and storm water basins in the area. Grumman Aerospace Corporation's Bethpage manufacturing facility, which is a very large industrial facility, is on the eastern border of the Hooker/Ruco Polymer site. Figures 1 and 2 show area-wide and site-specific features.

About 100 employees work on-site and site access is restricted. The entire perimeter of the site is fenced and access to the siteis through a gate which is maintained by a 24-hour security force.

At the time of the June 1992 visit, PCB contaminated soils next tothe Pilot Plant were being excavated and staged on-site prior toproper off-site disposal.

D. Demographics, Land Use and Natural ResourceUse

The Hooker/Ruco site is on a 17-acre tract of land off of New SouthRoad in Hicksville, a portion of the Town of Oyster Bay. Borderingto the south are tracks of the Long Island Railroad. East of thesite is the 700 acre Grumman Aerospace facility, of which 100 acresis owned and operated by the U.S. Navy and is known as the NavyWeapons Industrial Reserve Plant (NWIRP). Commercial andindustrial facilities are north of the site. A residential area iswest of the site across New South Road. The site is relativelyflat with a gentle slope towards the south.

The population within one-mile of the site, based on 1980 censusdata, is about 22,000 people. The site is on a commercial corridorrunning from the northwest to the southeast, roughly following theLong Island Railroad tracks. Residential areas surround thisindustrial corridor.

The 1980 median agefor Hicksville is 32.1 years for males and 35.4years for females; this is above the national average by about 3 to4 years. Census data for Hicksville have projected an agingpopulation with the medium ages for males and females to be 35 and39 for 1989, 37 to 40 for 1994, respectively. Census estimates for1989 predict 55 percent of the population to be within 15 to 54years with an equal sex distribution.

The industrial characteristics for the Hicksville area are chieflymanufacturing, trade, and service related industries. Prior landuse planning on Long Island placed commercial and industrialfacilities in the mid-island area near transportation networks. The sole source aquifers are recharged in this area where a largenumber of contaminant sources associated with past and presentindustrial activities are likely contributing to the degradation ofgroundwater resources.

The nearest public water supply wells for the Hicksville WaterDistrict are 900 meters west; wells for the Bethpage Water Districtare 3,100 meters southeast. Grumman Aerospace maintains a numberof non-potable production wells for non-contact cooling and otherindustrial purposes. Summer use by Grumman has been as high as 14million gallons per day while winter use is about 3 million gallonsper day.

Groundwater on a regional basis is described as flowing in a south-southeast direction at thissite. However, the cones of influencefrom the various public water supply wells and privately ownedproduction wells, especially production wells at Grumman Aerospace,affect local groundwater flow. This effect will vary according tothe seasonal rates of pumpage for these supply wells.

The Upper Glacial formation on-site exists from the land surface toabout 50 feet below land surface and is not saturated with water. The Magothy Aquifer is from about 50 feet below ground surface toover 600 feet below ground surface. In general, the municipalwater supply wells in the area of Hooker/Ruco draw water from thedeeper regions (>500 feet below ground surface) of the MagothyAquifer.

E. Health Outcome Data

The New York State Department of Health maintains several healthoutcome data bases which could be used to generate site specificdata if warranted. These data bases include the cancer registry,congenital malformations registry, heavy metals registry,occupational lung disease registry, birth and death certificates,and hospital discharge records. To date NYS DOH has not evaluatedhealth outcome data specific for the Hooker/Ruco site.

A community health survey specific to the Hooker/Ruco Polymer sitehas not been conducted. However, in 1989, NYS DOH completed astudy on the incidence of breast cancer for residents of LongIsland, New York. The results of this study are discussed in theHealth Outcome Data Evaluation section of this report.


COMMUNITY HEALTHCONCERNS

During public meetings held in December 1990 and June 1992 for theremedial investigations at the NWIRP and Grumman sites, citizensexpressed concerns about potential health effects of these twosites and the Hooker/Ruco site. Their concern was focused on threeissues: the contamination of groundwater, PCB as a causative agentfor breast cancer, and odors. Citizens immediately west ofHooker/Ruco have complained about odors which they attributed tothe site. The community health concerns are addressed in theCommunity Health concerns section of this report.

The public was invited to review the public health assessment during a public comment period between March 31, 1993 to May 3, 1993. The response to comments received are presented in Appendix C.

Next Section      Table of Contents

  
 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #