PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
GOWANDA, CATTARAUGUS COUNTY, NEW YORK
- Based on the information reviewed, the Peter Cooper-Gowanda site, in the Village of Gowanda, Cattaraugus County, poses a public health hazard. Evidence exists that exposures have occurred, are occurring, and are likely to continue occurring in the future and the estimated long-term exposures to arsenic and the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, benzo(a)pyrene can increase the risk of adverse health effects to unauthorized visitors to the site and people that use the Cattaraugus Creek near the site for recreation. Specifically, long-term exposures to arsenic and benzo(a)pyrene could pose a low increased cancer risk.
- Completed exposure pathways are:
- Recreational users (such as fishermen) of Cattaraugus Creek near the site and unauthorized visitors to the site are exposed to leachate through direct contact and incidental ingestion. These exposures could pose a low increased cancer risk to these people.
- Unauthorized visitors to the site may be exposed to on-site surface soil which could result in a low increased cancer risk. Exposures to on-site surface water and sediments do not pose a concern.
- Unauthorized visitors to the site and recreational users of the Cattaraugus Creek near the site who are exposed to contaminated surface water adjacent to the site through direct contact or incidental ingestion may have a low increased risk of cancer. The information to date indicate that exposures to creek water downstream of the site and to creek sediments adjacent to and downstream of the site do not pose a concern.
- Unauthorized site visitors may breathe airborne volatile organic chemicals, but the levels that were measured do not pose a concern. However, it is unknown if the short-term air measurements are representative of long-term air concentrations and how concentrations would change if wastes were disturbed.
- Potential exposure pathways are:
- Although current exposures to subsurface soil and waste are unlikely, excavation into the surface material on-site and erosion of the creek bank may allow potential public exposures to contaminated subsurface material and waste, which could result in a low increased cancer risk. People that are sensitive to chromium could experience allergic reactions if they are exposed to subsurface soil or waste.
- People may eat fish that were caught in Cattaraugus Creek; however, it is unknown whether and to what extent the fish may be contaminated.
- Since people of the Seneca Nation use Cattaraugus Creek extensively for food, recreation, and livelihood, they may be exposed to site-related contaminants in Cattaraugus Creek. We do not know if or to what extent the portion of Cattaraugus Creek adjacent to the Cattaraugus Reservation is contaminated with contaminants related to the Peter Cooper-Gowanda site. However, it is unlikely that surface water or sediments at the reservation would pose a concern due to contaminants from Peter Cooper. Likewise, it is unlikely that contaminant concentrations in vegetation, fish or game near the creek would pose a concern.
- Public exposures to waste materials could be prevented through the installation of a proper cap over the landfill, stabilization of the creek shoreline, and installation of leachate and gas collection systems.
- Since people near the Peter Cooper-Gowanda site do not use groundwater for drinking water, no public exposures to groundwater are expected.
- If soil gases are migrating, people could be exposed to soil gases that have migrated off-site.
- Moench Tanning is a potential upstream source of arsenic contamination in creek sediments.
- The condition of the site buildings and the equipment that has been left on-site pose potential physical hazards.
- Data from the Remedial Investigation (RI) that the US EPA is performing will provide additional information. The RI data will be evaluated and may affect the conclusions and recommendations of this Public Health Assessment.
- To prevent public exposures, a long-term remedy to encapsulate the wastes could be implemented which may include:
- The landfill cover should be repaired to prevent further erosion and thus higher levels of contaminants from being exposed and to prevent contaminants from migrating into the Cattaraugus Creek;
- The section of shoreline along Cattaraugus Creek that has not been remediated should be stabilized to prevent any mass releases of waste into the creek;
- Leachate should be collected to prevent continued migration of contaminants to the creek; and,
- Landfill gases should be collected to prevent a build-up of potentially explosive gases and to prevent migration of contaminants through air.
- Access to the site should be restricted and condition of the site should be periodically checked so that contact with site contaminants and physical hazards is minimized. Demolition of the site building should be completed and equipment that has been abandoned on-site should be removed. Adequate fencing could restrict access to the site.
- Contaminant levels in Cattaraugus Creek should be periodically monitored until the site is remediated or monitoring is deemed unnecessary. If contaminant levels increase to a level of public health concern, fish from the Cattaraugus Creek should be sampled to determine if people could be exposed to contaminants in fish at a level of public concern.
- If future data warrant, the environmental contamination at the Seneca Nation should be investigated and evaluated.
- Soil gas surveys, both on and off-site, should be initiated to determine the extent of landfill gas migration. Additional actions will be based on the results of the surveys.
- Additional air sampling should be performed.
- Data from the US EPA's Remedial Investigation should be evaluated when it becomes available.
- The NYS DOH should continue to respond to community concerns regarding the Peter Cooper Gowanda site.
Alternatively, another remedy that will prevent public exposures could be implemented.
The Public Health Action Plan for the Peter Cooper-Gowanda site contains a description of the actions to be taken by the US EPA, ATSDR, and/or the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) at or near the site subsequent to the completion of this public health assessment. The purpose of the PHAP is to ensure that this public 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 exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Included, is a commitment on the part of the ATSDR/NYS DOH to follow-up on this plan to ensure that it is implemented. The public health actions to be implemented are as follow:
- ATSDR and the NYS DOH will coordinate with the appropriate environmental agencies to implement the recommendations in this public health assessment.
- ATSDR will provide follow-up to this PHAP as necessary, outlining the actions completed and those in progress. The follow-up report will be placed in repositories that contain copies of this public health assessment, and will be provided to persons who request it.
- The NYS DOH will continue to conduct community health education as appropriate.
- The cancer study being done by NYS DOH for the Village of Gowanda, the Cattaraugus Reservation and the Towns of Perrysburg, Persia, Dayton, New Albion and Otto will be made available to the communities involved in the study.
- The NYS DOH will evaluate data from the US EPA's Remedial Investigation for potential health concerns.
ATSDR will reevaluate and expand the Public Health Actions Plan 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.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1993a. Toxicological Profile for Arsenic. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1993b. Toxicological Profile for Chromium. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1995. Toxicological Profile for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1997. Toxicological Profile for Benzene (Update). Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1998. Toxicological Profile for Toluene (Update). Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Clarke, L., C. Hudson, G. Laccetti, W. Stone and B. Ungerman. 1985. Study of metal concentrations in soil and surface sand of seven New York counties. Albany, New York: New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment.
Connor, J., N.F. Shimp and J.F. Tedrow. 1957. A spectrographic study of the distribution of trace elements in some podzolic soils. Soil Science. 83:65-73.
Edwards, N.T. 1983. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the terrestrial environment - a review. J. Environ. Qual. 12:427-441.
McGovern, E.C. 1988. Background concentrations of 20 elements in soils with special regard for New York State. Albany, New York: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
NYS Department of Health (NYS DOH), Bureau of Environmental Exposure Investigation (BEEI). Project Files: Peter Cooper Corporation, Gowanda - Cattaraugus County (Site Number 905003A).
O'Brien and Gere Engineering, Inc., P.C.. January 1989. Remedial Investigation Study, Peter Cooper Corporation, Gowanda, New York. (Site Number 905003A).
Roy F. Weston, Inc.. December, 1996. Final Site Inspection Prioritization Report, Peter Cooper Site, Village of Gowanda, New York. Vol. 1 and 2.
Shacklette, H.T. and J.G. Boerngen. 1984. Element concentrations in soil and other surficial materials of the conterminous United States. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1270. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1991 and 1992. 1990 Census of population and housing summary tape files 1B and 3A. U.S. Department of Commerce.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). 1993. Provisional Guidance for Quantitative Risk Assessment of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Washington, D.C. EPA/60/R-93/089.
Dawn E. Hettrick
Assistant Sanitary Engineer
Bureau of Environmental Exposure Investigation
New York State Department of Health
Bureau of Toxic Substances Assessment
New York State Department of Health
ATSDR Regional Representative
Senior Regional Representative
Office of Regional Operations
ATSDR Technical Project Officer
Gregory V. Ulirsch
Environmental Health Engineer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
The Public Health Assessment for the Peter Cooper-Gowanda 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 V. 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.
Sven E. Rodenbeck
Acting Chief, SSAB, DHAC, ATSDR