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PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

LI TUNGSTEN CORPORATION
GLEN COVE, NASSAU COUNTY, NEW YORK


SUMMARY

The Li Tungsten Site, which is on the National Priorities List, is on the North Shore of Nassau County, near Hempstead Harbor in the City of Glen Cove. A portion of the site borders Glen Cove Creek. The site presents a public health hazard because people were probably exposed to a substance or substances in the environment at concentrations that can cause adverse health effects from long term exposures. Low levels of radioactive slag are in piles throughout the site and drums of radioactive slag are in an on-site building. Trespassers have probably come in contact with on-site surface soils, waste water, and sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals. Trespassers may have also been exposed to external gamma radiation from on-site drums and piles of low level radioactive slag/ore. On-site groundwater is contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metals, but no exposures are expected because no one is using this water for any purpose. Glen Cove Creek borders part of the site to the south. People using Glen Cove Creek for recreation purposes may be exposed to VOCs and metals in its surface water. Glen Cove Creek sediments are contaminated with metals and people could be exposed to contaminants if sediments are dredged and placed where they may be available for human contact. The site is fenced and security guards are present; however, trespassing onto site properties is occurring, which may result in exposure to on-site contaminants and radionuclides. Trespassers may also come in contact with many physical hazards.

The community of Glen Cove have expressed the following health concerns regarding the Li Tungsten site:

1) Is there an excess rate of cancers in Glen Cove which might be related to the Li Tungsten site and other industrial sites?

2) Is the site adequately secured to prevent trespassers from entering onto Li Tungsten property?

3) Are former employees of Li Tungsten at an increased risk for health effects due to their work exposures?

4) Is there a potential for the off-site migration of contaminants from Li Tungsten?

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) have determined that community health education is needed to inform the public of the possible hazards associated with trespassing on-site. The site is not being considered for other follow-up health actions at this time.

Recommendations made for further action at this site include additional investigations of the soil, surface water, groundwater, and water and sediment of Glen Cove Creek to identify all potential chemical and radiological exposure pathways that may be associated with the site. Also, further investigations should include a detailed radiation survey to evaluate the site and to recommend appropriate actions for stabilization,storage, and ultimate removal of the radioactive ore and slag that is currently on-site.

The public health actions to be implemented by the NYS DOH are: (1) routine inspections of the site perimeter, (2) further evaluation of the effect of chemical emissions from the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) facilities on local ambient air, (3) evaluation of the options for maintaining site security and making recommendations to appropriate agencies, (4) written notification to nearby residents of hazards associated with trespassing on-site, (5) replacement of 24 hour site security by the US EPA, and (6) carrying out of interim remedial actions by the US EPA to reduce hazards to future remedial investigation workers.

BACKGROUND

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

All figures and tables in this preliminary public health assessment are in Appendices A and B, respectively.

The Li Tungsten site is in the City of Glen Cove, Nassau County (Figure 1). The site is in an industrial area on about 26 acres along the north bank of Glen Cove Creek.

The site consists of three separate parcels with buildings and structures on two of the three parcels. The parcels are designated as A, B and C (see Figure 2). Parcel A is the largest parcel and is bordered by Herbhill Road to the north, Garvies Point Road to the west and the Glen Cove Creek to the south. Parcel B is the smallest parcel and is a partially wooded lot that does not have any structures on it. The northern end of parcel B was used as a landfill and waste pile storage. The southern end of parcel B was used for parking. Parcel C borders Dickson Lane and Garvies Point Road to the east. This parcel was used mainly as a parking lot. The Reduction building was used for processing and the Dickson Warehouse was used for storing materials. Parcel C contains a perimeter section, labelled C' in Figure 2, that was not part of the site property during the operational period.

The Li Tungsten site was operated from the 1940's to about 1985, by a succession of different corporate entities, the last of which was the Li Tungsten Corporation. The site has nine buildings (Figure 2). The Li Tungsten site operations involved the processing of ore and scrap tungsten to make tungsten carbide powder and tungsten powder.

Prior to the 1990 United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) Emergency Removal Action, the site had large quantities of laboratory reagents, hazardous materials in drums and tanks, asbestos, transformers, and gas cylinders containing compressed liquids and gases. Elemental mercury was spilled in an on-site building which has since been partially remediated. The remaining elemental mercury is confined to an area beneath a large piece of equipment. There are piles of slag emitting low level beta or gamma radiation throughout the site. Hundreds of tanks and about eight underground tanks are on the property. Hundreds of rusted drums are located throughout the site, both inside and outside the buildings. The majority of these drums contain low level radioactive, residual process ore and most are stored in the Dice Building. There are two unlined settling ponds, one lined settling pond and three concrete oil recovery sumps; also, one portion of the property was used for a landfill. The site was added to the National Priorities List in October 1992.

On April 14, 1989 the US EPA received a request from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) to perform a removal action at the Li Tungsten Facility. On April 16, 1989 the US EPA Response and Prevention Branch, with assistance from US EPA - Office of Radiation Programs, performed a preliminary assessment of the site. Subsequently, the US EPA issued an Administrative Order on Consent to the current owners of the property, Glen Cove Development Corporation (GCDC), to stabilize all potential threats to the public and the environment.

The GCDC conducted interim remedial actions at the Li Tungsten site and Fred C. Hart Associates, an environmental consulting firm, was retained by GCDC to perform the interim actions specified in the Administrative Order on Consent. A public meeting was held by the Mayor of Glen Cove on June 13, 1989. Representatives from the US EPA, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Nassau County Department of Health (NC DOH), NYS DEC, New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), and a physician from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook were present.

GCDC's consultant, Hart Environmental Management Corporation, began field activities at the site on June 16, 1989. In March, 1990 all emergency removal actions including removal of the radioactive sources in the lead vault and other high level radioactive materials were completed. Also, all drums containing waste chemicals were removed from the site. The US EPA began an investigation in March, 1990 to determine if the site qualified for inclusion on US EPA's Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The site investigation was conducted by NUS Corporation consultants and a report was completed in September 28, 1990.

The US EPA is developing a work plan for a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) which will further characterize the extent of contamination and evaluate alternatives for cleaning up the site. Public meetings were held by the US EPA in Glen Cove on March 9, and May 17, 1993. Representatives from the US EPA, NC DOH, NYS DEC, NYS DOH and Glen Cove City Council members were present at both meetings.

The US EPA is working with the community of Glen Cove to establish a citizen's task force to address the clean-up of the Li Tungsten site. Clean Sites, a not-for-profit organization is working under a cooperative agreement with the US EPA to conduct a pilot study to evaluate interactive decision making at superfund sites. Representatives of the US EPA, NYS DEC, NC DOH, NYS DOH, local community, local government, and local environmental interest groups are all part of the Li Tungsten Task Force. Clean Sites and the US EPA started development of the Task Force in May 1993. Task force public meetings are held in Glen Cove every month and began in July 1993.

B. ACTIONS IMPLEMENTED DURING THE HEALTH ASSESSMENT

The US EPA issued an Administrative Order on Consent to have site owners conduct interim emergency removal action measures. The interim remedial actions implemented from June 1989 through March 1990 were:

  1. Repairs were made to fencing where damaged. This action should reduce the potential for exposure to site related contaminants and radionuclides.
  2. Materials with elevated radioactivity readings were removed from the site. A large pile of ore slag was moved from the fenced area of the main parcel and stored in the west Dice Building. This action should reduce the potential for exposures to site related radionuclides.
  3. Field characterization, radiological screening and chemical analyses of all drums suspected of containing waste chemicals were completed. Laboratory chemicals and drums containing waste chemicals were removed from the site. This action should reduce the potential for exposure to contaminants.
  4. An inventory of 223 tanks at the site was completed. This action should identify any potential sources of contamination.
  5. Bulk samples were obtained and analyzed for asbestos; some asbestos was removed from the site, but friable asbestos remains.
  6. Transformers were identified on-site and some contained PCBs; these transformers were drained and removed from the site. This action should prevent contact with chemicals of concern.
  7. The identified spill of elemental mercury was remediated; any remaining elemental mercury is confined to an area beneath a large piece of equipment and is not easily accessible. This action should prevent contact with chemicals of concern.
  8. Twenty-four cylinders were removed for reclamation by their owner. Two unknown cylinders remain on-site. Additional materials removed from the site include anhydrous ammonia and a pint of methyl ethyl ketone peroxide. This action should prevent contact with chemicals of concern.

The NYS DOH has requested the US EPA take additional measures to improve present security at the Li Tungsten site. In February 1992, the site owners hired a new security company to replace the previous security company which was apparently ineffective in providing adequate security. In July 1992, the US EPA posted hazard warning signs at various appropriate locations on the site perimeter to warn potential intruders of the possible exposure hazards and to deter unauthorized entry. These actions were expected to deter unauthorized entry to the site.

C. SITE VISIT

M. Reynolds and D. Miles, of the NYS DOH, inspected the site in January 1992. Nassau County Department of Health (NC DOH) staff accompanied NYS DOH staff. William Condon also of the NYS DOH and Robert Theesfeld of the NC DOH visited the site on June 14, 1989 to obtain soil samples to analyze for radionuclides. The main office and labs were on the south side of Herb Hill Road (Figure 2). The former landfill area is a strip of land between Herb Hill Road and a road named "The Place". There are no buildings in the former landfill area.

All portions of the site were fenced except where Glen Cove Creek borders the southern boundary. A security guard, hired by the owners of the site, was on-duty. With the exception of a gate leading into the Dickson Warehouse, all entrance gates were locked at the time of the NYS DOH site visit. However, during the 1992 inspection, we observed evidence of recent trespassing on site; the security company appeared ineffective. No signs or warning placards were evident on any of the site's fences. Locks to gates were being cut as observed on the open gate leading to the Dickson Warehouse and as reported by the NC DOH. Trespassers were driving vehicles onto the site to dispose of household debris. This assumption was made after seeing tire tracks on-site near a large amount of household debris. A wooded area of the site had a basketball hoop attached to a tree. The basketball hoop is on a portion of property that was not used during any manufacturing. It is fenced from the rest of the site. The basketball hoop was most likely used by neighborhood children.

Many physical hazards are present on the site. All the buildings on site are in disrepair and deteriorating. There are many empty rusty drums, machinery and tanks throughout the site. The Dice Building contains thousands of drums containing tungsten slag and ore that are stacked three to four high.

A representative of the NC DOH visited the site in May 1992 at the request of the NYS DOH to inspect the site perimeter and check the effectiveness of the site security. All locks and site fences were secure at the time of the visit. The site security guard was present.

M. Schuck of the NYS DOH inspected the site perimeter in February 1993. Although a security guard was present and warning signs were present, fences were broken in two areas leading to parcel C. Both areas allow easy access for persons to enter the site. A discussion with the site security guard indicates that the fences were broken four weeks before the February, 1993 site visit. M. Schuck inspected the site again in May, 1993 and one fence remained broken.

L. Wilson of the NYS DOH inspected the site perimeter in September 1993. The wooden fence on the south end of parcel C remained broken down. Also, a gate was broken on the east side of parcel A. A security guard was not present at the time of the visit.

M. Schuck inspected the site perimeter in November, 1993. The wooden fence on the south end of parcel C remained broken. A security guard was not present at the time of the visit.

L. Lutzker of the NC DOH inspected the site perimeter in December, 1993. The wooden fence on the south end of the parcel C remained broken. A security guard was not present at the time of the visit.

D. DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

Demographics

The Li Tungsten site employed about 1,000 persons from the early 1950's until the plant closed. There are currently three persons working as security guards at the site. Each guard works an eight hour shift. The security guards patrol the outside perimeter fences only and do not patrol on-site.

The Li Tungsten site is in the City of Glen Cove about one-half mile west of the downtown section of Glen Cove, New York. The population is about 9,900 persons within a one-mile radius of the site, 35,400 persons within two miles, and 67,900 persons within four miles.

The Li Tungsten Site lies within census tract 5171.01, an area covering 1.2 square miles within the Town of Glen Cove. The 1990 population for this census tract was estimated at 4,636 of which 7.1 percent of the population is under 5 years of age, 17.9 percent is 5-19 years of age, 61.5 percent is 20-64 years of age and 13.5 percent is 65 years or older. The 1990 census estimated that 86.3 percent of the population is white, 8.5 percent is black and 5.2 percent is comprised of other races. The median household income in 1979 for census tract 5171 was $23,646 with 1.9 percent of the families with income below the poverty level.

Land Use

The site consists of three parcels and the main gate is located on the south side of Herb Hill Road. The southern property line borders Glen Cove Creek. The site is an industrial area with some commercial activity. Residential properties are located north of the site. The nearest residence is about 75 feet from the northern end of parcel B on the north side of "The Place".

After the site was closed, the Li Tungsten site was to be a residential development as was other nearby property. The construction of a condominium project near the site was halted due to the discovery of radiation and hazardous waste in the area. This site is currently on New York State's Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste sites and is listed as Garvies Point (Captain's Cove Condominiums) site.

Garvies Point Preserve is an undeveloped, nature-preserve park that is about 1,000 feet to the northwest. Recreational use of the preserve is limited to nature trails. The Glen Cove City public ballfields are located about 1,300 feet southwest of the site, south of Glen Cove Creek. Five other sites in the area are listed on the New York State list of inactive hazardous waste sites; Mattiace Petrochemical is adjacent to Edmos Corporation and both are about 1,000 feet to the southwest; Powers Chemco is 700 feet northeast of the main gate, Crown Dykman is adjacent to the east side of Parcel B, and Captain's Cove Condominiums are about 1,700 feet southwest of the main gate on Garvies Point Road. In 1989, radioactive soils believed to have originated at the Li Tungsten site were found at the Captain's Cove site during a radiological survey. The Captain's Cove condominiums are still unfinished and therefore uninhabitable. The site was added to the New York State list of inactive hazardous waste sites.

The southern property boundary of the Li Tungsten site is adjacent to Glen Cove Creek. The creek is tidal in this area and leads to Hempstead Harbor about 3,500 feet west of the site. Hempstead Harbor is a side arm of Long Island Sound. A park and a marina are at the mouth of the creek where it enters Hempstead Harbor, about 2,500 feet southwest of the site.

Glen Cove Creek contains a dredged shipping channel. The United States Congress authorized the Unites States Army Corps of Engineers (US ACE) to maintain Glen Cove Creek in 1925. The channel was last dredged in 1965, where 6,300 cubic yards were dredged and the material was disposed at the Captain's Cove Condominium site located on Garvies Point Road. It is not known if analytical data exists for dredged sediments. The NYS DOH will obtain data if available.

Natural Resource Use

The tidal portion of the creek is located in an industrial area and access to the water by the public is limited. Recreational use is concentrated at the Hempstead Harbor end of the creek. The creek is an access point for recreational boating and fishing in Hempstead Harbor and Long Island Sound. Some fishing may occur in Glen Cove Creek. Shellfishing is closed because of bacterial contamination. Swimming and wading in the creek does not occur due to the industrial nature of the creek and because a public beach is located on Hempstead Harbor at the end of Garvies Point Road.

The area around the site is served by public water. Public water supply wells are within 3/4-mile of the site. Ground water flow is to the south-southwest towards Glen Cove Creek, away from any public water supplies. A water supply well drilled on-site for Wah Chang Trading Corporation was used for production purposes. The water supply well is not in use. It has not been determined if this well still exists.

E. HEALTH OUTCOME DATA

The New York State Department of Health 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. The NYS DOH reviewed cancer incidence in the City of Glen Cove using data from the New York State Cancer Registry, from the years 1978-1987. The Health Outcome Data evaluation of this study will be discussed in the Public Health Implications section.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

The community of Glen Cove has expressed concern about this site and the five other inactive hazardous waste sites in this area. Local officials of the City of Glen Cove have had an active role in initiating and overseeing investigations at these sites through public meetings and direct contact with State and federal officials. The Mayor of Glen Cove requested a cancer study be done in the area of the five hazardous waste sites. The public has raised concerns to the NC DOH and the NYS DOH about present site conditions, prior conditions which might have affected former employees of the facility, and the potential for off-site migration of contaminants, via the groundwater, Glen Cove Creek, and the ambient air. These concerns will be addressed in the Public Health Implications section.

On December 23, 1992, the NYS DOH sent copies of the Preliminary Public Health Assessment for the Li Tungsten site to all known interested parties requesting concerns and comments on the report by January 22, 1993. The responses to the public comments received by the NYS DOH are included in Appendix C.



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