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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

JOHNSTOWN CITY LANDFILL
JOHNSTOWN, FULTON COUNTY, NEW YORK


CONCLUSIONS

  • Because of past, present and possible future human exposure to contaminants in drinking water and potential (past, present and future) human exposure to contaminants in fish and surface water, the Johnstown City Landfill poses a public health hazard.

  • Low levels of VOCs have been detected in water supply samples collected from private homes near the site between 1979 and 1991. Only one residential water supply was found to be contaminated with vinyl chloride, benzene, toluene, xylenes, methylene chloride and trans-1,2-dichloroethene at levels which exceeded NYS DOH MCLs. For an undetermined period of time (less than 43 years), residential water supplies near the Johnstown City Landfill may have been contaminated with low levels of VOCs.

  • Past sampling activities have shown evidence of off-site migration of methane from the landfill to nearby residential properties northeast of the site. The public health concerns associated with methane include the potential for explosive levels of methane to accumulate in closed buildings. Methane may also "carry" VOCs that may be present in soil gas.

  • People could have been exposed to on-site wastes and leachate in the past.

  • The proposed measures for remediation of the site include capping, fencing, long-term monitoring excavation of sediments from LaGrange Gravel Pit and extension of public water to private homes near the landfill. The provisions for capping include measures to control and monitor methane migration.

  • Once the preferred remedy for the site is in place, the following potential exposures will be controlled or eliminated:

    • exposure to on-site wastes;

    • Exposure to leachate;

    • exposure to contaminated sediments in the LaGrange gravel pit;

    • exposure to contaminants in surface water;

    • exposure to contaminants in on-site groundwater; and

    • exposure to contaminants in drinking water for those residents who begin use of public water.

  • The potential for exposure to contaminants in LaGrange Gravel Pit will be eliminated once the proposed remedial measure has been implemented. The selected remedial alternative will control and reduce leachate generation. Residual contaminant levels in nearby surface water bodies including Hulbert's Pond and Mathew Creek should decrease over time.

  • No surface soil samples were collected at or near the site during the RI and the public health significance of possible exposure to contaminants in surface soils, if any, was not evaluated as part of this public health assessment. The proposed remedy for the site includes capping which will eliminate human exposure to on-site surface soils, once it is implemented.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Residents who were exposed in the past to VOC contaminants in drinking water, will be considered for inclusion to the NYS DOH registry of VOC exposures in drinking water, which is currently being developed.

  • The proposed measures for remediation of the Johnstown City Landfill should be carried out to eliminate the potential for human exposure to contaminants at and near the landfill.

  • Public water should be extended to all those affected and potentially affected residences with private water supplies since initial groundwater remediation for this site does not include pumping and treating of groundwater.

HEALTH ACTIVITIES RECOMMENDATION PANEL (HARP)
RECOMMENDATIONS

The data and information developed in the Public Health Assessment for the Johnstown City Landfill, Johnstown, New York, has been reviewed by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendations Panel to determine appropriate follow-up actions. Because of past exposure to contaminated drinking water the panel recommended this site for follow-up health activities. Specifically, those persons exposed in the past should be considered for inclusion in the NYS DOH's registry being developed for VOC exposures. The HARP also determined that community health education was needed. The NYS DOH, however, has educated the community regarding their past exposures to contaminated drinking water. No other follow-up activities were recommended by HARP at this time.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the Johnstown City Landfill contains a description of actions to be taken by ATSDR and/or the NYS DOH following completion of this public health assessment. For those actions already taken at the site, please refer to the Background section of this public health assessment. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this health assessment not only identifies public health hazards, but provides a plan of action designed to mitigate and prevent adverse human health effects resulting from past, present and/or future exposures to hazardous substances at or near the site. Included, is a commitment on the part of ATSDR and/or the NYS DOH to follow up on this plan to ensure that it is implemented. The public health actions to be implemented by ATSDR and/or the NYS DOH are as follows:

  1. ATSDR and NYS DOH will coordinate with the appropriate environmental agencies to develop plans to implement the recommendations contained in this public health assessment.

  2. ATSDR will provide follow up to this PHAP, outlining the actions completed and those in progress. This report will be placed in repositories that contain copies of this public health assessment, and will be provided to persons who request it.

  3. Residents who were exposed in the past to VOCs in drinking water will be considered for inclusion to the NYS DOH registry of VOC exposures in drinking water, which is currently being developed.

ATSDR will reevaluate and expand the PHAP when needed. New environmental, toxicological, or health outcome data, or the results of implementing the above proposed actions may determine the need for additional actions at this site.

CERTIFICATION

The Public Health Assessment for the Johnstown City Landfill site was prepared by the New York State Department of Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was initiated.

Gregory Ulirsch
Technical Project Officer, SPS, SSAB, DHAC

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC), ATSDR, has reviewed this Public Health Assessment and concurs with its findings.

Richard Gillig for
Division Director, DHAC, ATSDR



PREPARERS OF REPORT

Claudine Jones Rafferty
Environmental Health Specialist II
Bureau of Environmental Exposure Investigation
New York State Department of Health

and

Joel Kaplan
Research Scientist I
Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment
New York State Department of Health

ATSDR Regional Representative:

Arthur Block
Regional Services
Office of the Assistant Administrator

ATSDR Technical Project Officer:

Greg Ulirsch
Remedial Programs Branch
Division of Health Assessment & Consultation

REFERENCES

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Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1989b. Toxicological Profile for 3,3'-Dichlorobenzidine. ATSDR/TP-89/09. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Public Health Service.

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Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1990c. Toxicological Profile for cis and trans-1,2-Dichloroethene. ATSDR/TP-90/13. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Public Health Service.

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