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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

PORT WASHINGTON LANDFILL
NORTH HEMPSTEAD, NASSAU COUNTY, NEW YORK


CONCLUSIONS

  1. Based on ATSDR's present public health hazard category classification (Appendix E), the Port Washington Landfill posed a public health hazard because of past exposures to site-related contamination in soil gas and ambient air. Previous exposures to contaminated soil gas have been documented in the residential areas to the west of the landfill. These exposures were from inhalation of volatile organic compounds in indoor air. Exposures, especially to vinyl chloride and benzene, were at levels that could result in an increased risk of adverse health effects. Nearby residents have been exposed to landfill contaminants in the ambient air. Past exposures, especially to vinyl chloride and hydrogen sulfide, were at levels that could result in an increased risk of adverse health effects. The site currently poses a no apparent public health concern.
  2. Installation and operation of the active soil gas venting system has reduced or eliminated this exposure. However, at times the system has been interrupted, resulting in some subsurface landfill gas migrating off-site.
  3. The L4 section of the landfill is contaminating groundwater. Degradation of groundwater resources on Manhasset Neck can, at a future point in time, affect the aquifers being used for drinking water.
  4. Poor operation of the closed L4 section, as well as past problems with the operation of the L5 section, are the focus of community concerns. Short-term health effects from hydrogen sulfide exposure have occurred in the community surrounding the landfill. Remedial measures performed by the Town of North Hempstead in February and March of 1991 have reduced this exposure to hydrogen sulfide to less than 10 ppb which has resulted in a considerable decrease in the number of illness complaints (Table 8). However, the source of the generation and release of hydrogen sulfide, which is the landfill's most recently used cell (L5 Field 3), still exists. Therefore, any interruption in the gas control system that collects hydrogen sulfide could result in the resumed release of high levels of this gas and health complaints.
  5. The reported increase of brain cancer incidence in the community to the northwest of the landfill is unexplained.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. An operation and maintenance plan for the landfill gas withdrawal system must be developed to improve the operation of the system. Gas emissions to ambient air from the landfill should continue to be monitored to ensure that the landfill gas control systems are operating properly.
  2. Remediation should address the landfill's role as an on-going source of contamination to the groundwater. Groundwater treatment should be conducted to remove existing contamination so that the aquifer can be restored to drinking water quality.
  3. Because exposures have occurred and may be continuing from both the L4 and L5 sections of the landfill, additional health studies and follow-up activities should be undertaken.

HEALTH ACTIVITIES RECOMMENDATION PANEL (HARP) RECOMMENDATIONS

The data and information evaluated in the public health assessment for the Port Washington Landfill, North Hempstead, Nassau County, New York, has been reviewed by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. The panel agreed that fact sheets and public meetings should continue to be used by county, state and federal agencies to provide health information. Health professional education is also indicated. The panel also determined that a review of health statistics is indicated. This will be performed by the NYS DOH through a multi-site study grant from the ATSDR. In addition, the panel determined that the site will be considered by the NYS DOH for inclusion in the state VOC Registry.

PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN

The Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the Port Washington Landfill site contains a description of actions to be taken by the US EPA, ATSDR and/or the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) at and 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 follows:

  1. The US EPA Record of Decision includes the construction of a permanent landfill cap on the L4 section and extension of the existing gas venting system around the entire perimeter of the L4 section. Rehabilitation of the existing active gas venting system is also planned. Capping will prevent direct contact exposure to any contaminated soils and leachate seeps. This action will also reduce potential human exposure due to migration of contaminants from the site into soil gas and groundwater. The potential for exposures in the future to groundwater contamination will be further reduced through groundwater pumping and treatment as proposed in the Record of Decision.
  2. The US EPA Record of Decision includes the construction of a groundwater treatment facility at the Southport public drinking water supply well in order to return the well to use as a potable water supply.
  3. The NYS DOH is conducting a study of cancer incidence near a number of New York State landfills (ATSDR Grant #H75/ATH298290-01). This study will examine characteristics of each site and levels of organic chemicals in soil gas and ambient air to determine potential effects. The NYS DOH has included the Port Washington Landfill site in the study.
  4. The selected clean-up remedy for the site will include long term monitoring of the groundwater and soil gas to determine the effectiveness of the remedy. Also, to increase the reliability of the landfill gas withdrawal system and prevent off-site gas migration, an operation and maintenance plan will be developed and carried out by the Town of North Hempstead.
  5. Persons exposed in the past to volatile organic compounds in their drinking water as a result of the Port Washington Landfill will be considered for inclusion in the VOC Registry which is being developed by the NYS DOH.
  6. Fact sheets and public meetings should be used by county, state and federal agencies to provide health information. Additionally, the NYS DOH will provide this public health assessment to interested members of the community.
  7. The ATSDR and the NYS DOH will coordinate with the appropriate agencies regarding actions to be taken in response to those recommendations provided in this public health assessment for which no plan of action has yet been developed.
  8. The ATSDR will provide follow-up to the 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.

CERTIFICATION

The Public Health Assessment for the Port Washington 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 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.


Richard Gillig
for Division Director, DHAC, ATSDR


PREPARERS OF THE REPORT

Maureen E. Schuck
Public Health Specialist II
Bureau of Environmental Exposure Investigation
New York State Department of Health

Lloyd R. Wilson
Program Research Specialist III
Bureau of Environmental Exposure Investigation
New York State Department of Health

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

Arthur Block
ATSDR Regional Representative
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Greg Ulirsch
Technical Project Officer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Remedial Programs Branch


REFERENCES

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  7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1989g. Toxicological Profile for Ethylbenzene. Draft. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Public Health Service.
  8. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1989h. Toxicological Profile for 1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane. ATSDR/TP-89/22. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Public Health Service.
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  10. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1989j. Toxicological Profile for 1,1,2-Trichloroethane. ATSDR/TP-89/24. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Public Health Service.
  11. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1990a. Toxicological Profile for 2-Butanone. Draft. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Public Health Service.
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  14. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1990d. Toxicological Profile for Manganese. Draft. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Public Health Service.
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