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INTERIM PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

BELL LANDFILL
WYALUSING - TERRY TOWNSHIP, BRADFORD COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


SUMMARY

The Bell Landfill site is located in Wyalusing, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, and is comprised of two aboveground landfills. The site was proposed for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List (Update 7) in June 1988. Results of sampling of environmental media at the site revealed contamination by volatile organic compounds and inorganic chemicals. Contaminated leachate streams emanating from the landfills are readily accessible to humans and may result in exposures via inhalation of volatilized chemicals; however, sampling of ambient air at the site has not been conducted. Ground water on the site has been shown to be contaminated with organic and inorganic chemicals. Residential wells off the site have been shown to be contaminated with low levels of inorganic compounds. Residents in the area use ground water from private wells for drinking and domestic purposes. Periodic sampling of ground water from residential wells is recommended to confirm that human ingestion and inhalation exposures to site-related contaminants in ground water are not occurring. Based on the information reviewed, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concluded that this site is an indeterminate public health hazard because limited data available do not indicate whether humans are being exposed to hazardous substances at concentrations that may result in adverse health effects. Since available information is insufficient to determine whether exposure of residents to contaminants occurs at levels of public health concern, ATSDR has concluded that no follow-up health activities should be pursued at this time.


BACKGROUND

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

The Bell Landfill covers 33 acres northeast of New Albany in Terry Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania (Attachment 1). The site is comprised of two landfills, an unpermitted landfill on the eastern portion of the site and a previously permitted landfill on the western portion of the site (Attachment 2). Both landfills are constructed as aboveground mounds approximately 30 feet high. During the 1970's, the eastern landfill was operated by the Terry Township and received municipal wastes until the late 1970's. The landfill was sold to a private individual and received various types of municipal and industrial wastes.

Between 1978 and 1979, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER) required that the western landfill be asphalt-lined and that an underground leachate collection tank be installed. The landfill accepted ferric hydroxide sludge from the GTE Sylvania Products Corporation. An underground leachate collection tank was also installed for the eastern landfill during this time. During the period from 1979 to 1981, the western landfill received approximately 8,226 tons of sludge from GTE Sylvania. After numerous permit violations due to improper cover material and inadequate maintenance of the leachate collection tanks, the PADER closed the site in 1982. The site was proposed for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List (Update 7) in June 1988.

B. SITE VISIT

Personnel from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) visited the Bell Landfill site in March 1989. During the site visit, numerous physical hazards, including rusted, open drums, paint cans, and municipal garbage were noted at the moderately vegetated site. Numerous large, dark, oily leachate seeps were readily visible on the eastern and southern portions of the site flowing southeast from the unpermitted landfill area. Leachate overflow from the underground leachate collection tank of the eastern landfill is visibly flowing from an exposed pipe along the northern side of Parker Road, and can be traced flowing for several hundred feet southeastward to a low-lying area adjacent to the Masters farm pond. Leachate seeps emanating from the western landfill area are smaller and less frequent. Vegetation in the immediate area of the leachate seeps is markedly stressed or absent. An inconspicuous sign is posted on a tree near the farm pond and warns against fishing, hunting, and trespassing in the area. Access to the site is unrestricted.

In July 1991, ATSDR representatives contacted members of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the US Environmental Protection Agency. The following recent site-related activities were discussed:

    *EPA representatives last visited the site in June 1991.

    *The Principle Responsible Party signed a Consent Order in January 1991.

    *The EPA is developing a work plan.

    *No concerns have been voiced by any community member over the past two years.

C. COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

A local activist group, the Citizens for a Cleaner Environment, had raised a concern several years ago that the site has affected the health of some children who live in the area, and that farm animals have died as a result of drinking water from a stream near the site. Biological sampling data and medical information related to these concerns were not provided to ATSDR. As of July 1991, State Health Department representatives have not heard from citizens in over two years and conclude that the public has withdrawn its concern.

D. STATE AND LOCAL HEALTH DATA

Based on the evaluations performed as part of this interim preliminary public health assessment, there are indications that humans may have been exposed to site related contaminants. In addition, community health concerns related to the site have been reported in the past. No follow-up health actions have been proposed by the ATSDR Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) because available information is insufficient to determine whether exposure of residents to contaminants occurs at levels of public health concern and because State Health Department representatives conclude that the public has withdrawn its concern. Therefore, an evaluation of available health outcome data is not indicated at this time. However, an evaluation of health outcome data may be conducted in future public health assessments of the site.


DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

The Bell Landfill is situated in a rural area, which is sparsely populated with single-family homes and farms that are located predominantly north and east of the site. The total number of persons residing within 1, 2, and 3 miles of the site is 99, 422, and 764 persons, respectively. The residence closest to the site is approximately one-fourth mile to the southeast. The areas west and south of the site are lightly to heavily wooded. State game lands are located 1 mile north of the site. Demographic information obtained from the U.S. Bureau of the Census regarding the race and ethnicity of persons residing in the same ZIP Code area as the site indicates that greater than 99 percent are White, and less than 0.01 percent are African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Aleut/Eskimo, or are of Spanish origin.


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