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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

AVCO LYCOMING-WILLIAMSPORT DIVISION
WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


SUMMARY

The AVCO Lycoming (Williamsport Division) site, a National Priorities List (NPL) site, is located in the western part of Williamsport, Lycoming County. The site is an active aircraft engine production facility on approximately 28 acres adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

Contaminants of concern are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chromium in the two groundwater aquifers both on-site and in a southern direction off-site. Public water supply is available to residences in the area, and there are currently no known private well users.

The site represents no apparent public health hazard since limited available data do not indicate that humans are being or have been exposed to levels of contaminants that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. This determination was made from confirmed information that there were no private wells in the contaminant plume and presently all residents use the public water supply with the reserve supply wells remediated. As noted in the Pathways Analyses section of the report, a past completed exposure occurred through contaminated groundwater through ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact. The level of exposure is believed to be low since (1) the contaminants would have been diluted from the exposure source, and (2) the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority (WMWA) well fields, are used infrequently only as a supplemental water supply. Future exposure is possible only under hypothetical situations that are unlikely to occur, e.g. a new well is drilled into a contaminated plume. The WMWA well fields are remediated and all residents are on municipal water. Presently, no private wells are in use and it is believed that no private wells were ever in the plume of contamination.

A review of mortality outcome data (all causes of death and selected cancer sites) did not indicate an adverse outcome for Williamsport City. However, this could not address a small subset of the city in the environs of the plant. The major concern by residents of the area relates to any risk, including cancer, that may be associated with the contaminated groundwater. Past exposure to contaminants are believed to be low and present exposures are highly unlikely indicating a study of cancer in the area is not warranted.

The data and information developed in the AVCO Lycoming-Williamsport Division Public Health Assessment have been evaluated for appropriate follow-up health actions. The ATSDR Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) determined that no follow-up public health actions are indicated. ATSDR will reevaluate this site and conduct appropriate public health actions, if new data become available that indicate a need to do so.


BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

The AVCO Lycoming (Williamsport Division) facility (referred to in the Remedial Investigation as the Textron Lycoming facility) is located in western Williamsport in Lycoming County. The facility is on approximately 28 acres adjacent to a residential neighborhood which also contains some light industry (Figure 1).

Groundwater investigation and remediation completed by Textron Lycoming prior to the listing of the facility on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) were governed by the Consent Order and Agreement (COA), executed on November 25, 1985, between Textron Lycoming and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER). The COA directed Textron Lycoming to develop and implement a Remedial Action Plan to clean-up contaminated groundwater at and near its Williamsport facility. Textron Lycoming has successfully complied with PADER's directive by evaluating the on and off-site shallow groundwater contamination, installing and regularly sampling groundwater monitoring wells, and installing three on-site and two off-site recovery wells and associated treatment facilities (1).

The recovery systems operate under permits issued by PADER. From January 1986 to June 1988, groundwater monitoring was conducted bi-monthly at wells selected by PADER. Textron Lycoming, on August 15, 1988, submitted a quarterly progress report to PADER, recommending implementation of a quarterly groundwater monitoring and reporting program. This was approved and implemented in October 1988 and continues. Textron Lycoming signed the COA and EPA Region III on June 20, 1988 and began work on the Remedial Investigation (RI). On February 22, 1990, the Textron Lycoming Williamsport facility was promulgated to the NPL (1). A Preliminary Health Assessment for the AVCO Lycoming (Williamsport Division) site was prepared by ATSDR on January 22, 1988 (2).

The Williamsport Municipal Water Authority (WMWA) well field is located in the Susquehanna River floodplain at the convergence of Lycoming Creek and the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, south of Third Street. The well field consists of nine wells (1). Each well is approximately 30 feet deep, 26 feet in diameter, and constructed of laid masonry stone. The wells are dug into the glacial and alluvial deposits in the Lycoming Creek Valley and obtain their water from these highly transmissive, overburden deposits. In an average year, 100 to 200 million gallons are pumped from the well field, mostly in the summer when reservoir yields are low. A drought year may demand as much as 300 million gallons from the well field, and a high precipitation year significantly less. The well field was not used in 1985 or 1986 pending results of the on-going groundwater study. The wells are now remediated with air strippers and during the period from January through November 1990, 162 million gallons had been pumped from the well field (1). These fields only supplement the WMWA water system and it is estimated their use comprises only 5 to 8 percent of the system (3).

Prior to the implementation of the EPA-approved RI, a considerable amount of investigative work had been completed at the Textron Lycoming facility. In the fall of 1984, the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority (WMWA) detected the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), specifically trichloroethylene (TCE) and trans-1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE), in the groundwater at their water supply well field located south of Third Street. Expanded analyses confirmed that TCE and DCE were the primary compounds of concern at the well field.

In November 1984, Textron Lycoming was made aware of the condition by PADER. In December 1984 and January 1985, PADER conducted an investigation. In the winter of 1985, immediately after results of the PADER investigation became available, Chester Engineering (Chester), at the request of Textron, conducted an investigation of possible groundwater contamination at the plant. This investigation revealed that constituents in the overburden groundwater aquifer beneath the plant were migrating from the plant in a southerly direction.

The investigations and remedial action program completed by Chester resulted in the installation of 47 groundwater monitoring wells. In addition, three on-site and two off-site recovery wells and associated treatment facilities were installed and remain in operation.

Chester's investigations also included six cores of the bedrock, 11 test borings, 13 soil samples analyzed for VOCs, packer testing of one well, aquifer testing for recovery well installation, computer simulations of the overburden aquifer, and extensive groundwater sampling and analysis that provided a comprehensive database depicting distribution of VOCs of concern in the groundwater system (1).

AVCO Lycoming is still operating as an aircraft engine production facility. It has been in operation for more than 50 years. The plant includes a still for the reclamation of petroleum solvents and, since 1950, a waste treatment facility. The main plant area is surrounded by an eight-foot high chain-linked fence, and access to the plant is controlled and monitored by a full-time security force.

On June 28, 1991, EPA issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the AVCO Lycoming Site Operable Unit #1. The remedial action plan in the ROD is presented as the permanent remedy for continuing, recovery and treating the on-site groundwater contamination at the site, as well as providing additional protection by implementing institutional controls of limiting future property use. The off-site contaminated groundwater, including the private wells in the plume area, will be addressed in a separate operable unit and future ROD.

B. Site Visit

On March 29, 1991, a four-hour site visit was conducted at the AVCO Lycoming site. James M. Fox, M.D., Kandiah Sivarajah, Ph.D., and Frank Bertovich represented the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH). Paul Racette represented the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). In addition, EPA, PADER, and company representatives participated in the site visit. Areas of interest included the main plant area and the active on-site recovery wells, the nearby old wastewater treatment plant, the proximity of nearby residents, the two public parks south and southwest of the plant, and the WMWA south of the plant.

The site was observed to be totally secured by a chain-linked fence and the presence of a full-time security force. Post remediation activity was evident in that there were three functioning air strippers and only portions of the wastewater treatment building were still standing. Only a small area of soil was visible with the majority of the surface being covered with concrete or macadam. Macadam is a roadway material made of broken stone with a bituminous binder.

Even though the plant was closed on the day of our visit, the site was a typical industrial plant. There was no evidence of trespass. Homes were in close proximity to the site fence. We visited the following off-site locations: local parks, stripping towers, the Lycoming Creek, the Susquehanna River, and the WMWA well field. We also toured the on-site plant facilities.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The site is located in the western part of the city of Williamsport in a primarily residential neighborhood. Some light industry is also present in the area (1). According to the 1990 Census, about 31,933 people reside in the city (4). About 100 people live within 1,000 feet of the site with some homes adjacent to the property line (2). All residents within three miles of the site are supplied water through the city water system (3). The company employs about 1,000 persons (1).

Located north and northwest of the site are two cemeteries. South and southwest of the facility are two public parks, Memorial Park and Elm Park. The southern boundary of the park area is marked by the Conrail Railroad track which runs east-west across Lycoming Creek. Lycoming Creek flows south and is located about 2,000 feet southwest of the site. The creek drains into the Susquehanna River which is about 5,000 feet south of the site. Both the creek and the river are used for recreational purposes. The WMWA well field is about 3,000 feet south of the site (1). Two schools, Williamsport Area Community College and the Daniel Webster School, are located southeast and southwest, respectively of the site (see Figure 1).

Surface water drainage, including that from the site, is controlled by two storm sewers which drain either into the Lycoming Creek or into the Susquehanna River. Flood control levees extend along both banks of the Lycoming Creek, essentially to the river.

D. Health Outcome Data

Using state health data bases, special studies or other relevant health outcome data bases, it may be possible to determine whether certain health effects are higher than expected in areas surrounding hazardous waste sites. This section introduces these data bases and discusses their limitations. An evaluation of the usefulness of this health data as it relates to the AVCO Lycoming site is presented in the Public Health Implications section.

PADOH maintains vital records of live births, resident deaths (including infant and fetal deaths), and reports of induced termination of pregnancy; however, with the exception of births and deaths, the use of this data for geographic areas smaller than the county level is difficult because recordings of exact place of residence are not as accurate as mortality and natality records. The Pennsylvania Cancer Registry collects cancer data for all areas of Pennsylvania. Field representatives interact with local hospitals to audit the accuracy of all reporting. However, the mobility of the patients, the variance in compliance rates among hospitals, and the newness of the program create difficulty in analyses of geographic areas smaller than the county level. The most recent report, published in September 1991, is entitled Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Pennsylvania, 1988. The report only presents data applicable at the county level (smallest geographic area). PADOH is unaware of the existence of any special studies or other relevant health outcome data bases associated with this site.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Concerns related to the health of the local citizens were gathered by the PADOH North Central District Environmental Health Specialist. EPA's Remedial Program Manager also confirmed these concerns. The citizen's major health-related concerns of the area are:

  1. Has there been any risk from consuming the contaminated water?
  2. Has there been any epidemiologic evaluation of cancer risks in the site area?

A public comment period for this document began on February 25, 1993 to April 4, 1993. No comments were received.


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