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INTERIM PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

BELL LANDFILL
WYALUSING - TERRY TOWNSHIP, BRADFORD COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

In order to identify other possible facilities that could have contributed to the contamination at the Bell Landfill, ATSDR reviewed the 1987 and 1988 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), a database developed by the EPA from chemical release information provided by certain industries. The TRI did not contain any information on toxic chemical releases by this site or other sites in the same ZIP code.

A. ON-SITE CONTAMINATION

The primary contaminants detected in environmental media on-site are volatile organic compounds (VOC's) and inorganic chemicals.

Groundwater samples collected from an on-site monitoring well located north of the eastern and western landfill areas were found to be contaminated with VOC's, including methylene chloride (maximum concentration of 270 ppb), and low concentrations of acetone, 2-butanone, ethylbenzene and xylene.

Samples of leachate overflow from the on-site eastern landfill collection tank were found to be contaminated with VOC's and low concentrations of inorganic chemicals. Maximum contaminant concentrations of VOC's detected in surface water included methylene chloride (1,800 ppb), trichloroethene (200 ppb), and tetrachloroethene (50 ppb). Maximum contaminant concentrations of inorganic chemicals detected in surface water included lead (50 ppb) and arsenic (165 ppb).

B. OFF-SITE CONTAMINATION

Environmental samples of sediment and surface water collected from leachate streams flowing southeast and southwest from the site were found to be contaminated with VOC's and semivolatile organic compounds. Maximum concentrations of contaminants detected in these environmental media included methylene chloride (14,000 ppb, sediment; 2,400 ppb, leachate), trichloroethene (400 ppb, sediment; 480 ppb, leachate), tetrachloroethene (210 ppb, sediment; 100 ppb, leachate), ethyl benzene (3,200 ppb, sediment; 590 ppb, leachate), and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (1,800 ppb, sediment). Maximum concentrations of inorganic chemicals detected in the leachate included barium (4,310 ppb), cadmium (23,290 ppb), chromium (627 ppb), and lead (81 ppb).

Surface water samples were collected from the east and west unnamed tributaries at a distance of 500 feet downgradient from the site, and from the farm pond located southeast of the site. Contamination by selected inorganic compounds, including copper, zinc, chromium, cadmium, and lead, was not detected. Analysis of the samples for VOC's and semivolatile organic compounds was not conducted. Surface water samples collected from the farm pond were found to contain very low dissolved oxygen levels that were reportedly caused by discharge of oxygen-demanding wastes from the landfill.

Sampling of surface water was conducted at the confluence of the two unnamed tributaries. Contamination by VOC's, semivolatile organic compounds, and inorganic chemicals was not detected in this sample.

In 1985, the PADER collected samples of aquatic (benthic) organisms from the unnamed tributaries to Sugar Run Creek at points downgradient of leachate discharge from the site, and from the farm pond southeast of the site. The data indicated that there was a slight degradation of benthic organism communities in one sample collected from the unnamed tributary approximately 500 feet downgradient of the site. Analysis of the samples did not include biological tissue analysis for VOC's and inorganic chemicals.

Groundwater samples were collected from private residence wells located within one-fourth mile of the site. Wells were found to be contaminated by barium (maximum concentration of 291 ppb) and silver (maximum concentration of 60 ppb). A ground water sample collected from a barn (farm) well located approximately one-fourth mile east of the site was reported to be contaminated by silver (92 ppb). VOC's were not detected in the private wells.

C. QUALITY ASSURANCE AND QUALITY CONTROL

In preparing this Public Health Assessment, the ATSDR relied on the information provided in the referenced documents and assumed that adequate quality assurance and quality control measures were followed with regard to chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting. The validity of the analysis and conclusions drawn for this Public health assessment is determined by the availability and reliability of the referenced information.

D. PHYSICAL AND OTHER HAZARDS

Several physical hazards, including open, rusted drums, crushed paint cans, a rusted, empty diesel fuel tank, and exposed municipal garbage, are present at the site, in particular in the area of the east landfill. Because access to the site is not restricted, these present physical hazards to persons who may enter the site.


PATHWAYS ANALYSES

A. ENVIRONMENTAL PATHWAYS (FATE AND TRANSPORT)

The primary sources of environmental contamination at the site include the eastern and western landfill areas and the leachate seeps (surface liquid and sediment) emanating from these areas. Environmental samples of surface leachate, sediment, and ground water were found to be contaminated by VOC's, semivolatile organic compounds, and inorganic chemicals. Other environmental media that may be contaminated as a result of migration or release from these sources include air (above the leachate seeps) and surface water (off-site).

  1. Surface Water, Leachate, and Sediments - Surface flow from the site drains south, east, and west toward two unnamed tributaries of Sugar Run Creek located east and west of the site. The confluence of these tributaries is located approximately three-fourths mile south of the site. At this point, surface water drains into Sugar Run Creek, located approximately 1 mile south of the site.

    Numerous leachate seeps have been observed emanating from the eastern and western landfills and the eastern landfill leachate collection tank. Leachate emanating from the eastern landfill and leachate collection tank flowed southeastward toward a low-lying area and farm pond on route to the eastern unnamed tributary of Sugar Run Creek. Leachate emanating from the western landfill flowed in a southwesterly direction along the western unnamed tributary of Sugar Run Creek.

    Sampling of leachate overflow from the eastern collection tank and from leachate streams flowing off-site revealed contamination by VOC's and inorganic chemicals. Limited sampling of surface water and sediment in the unnamed tributaries to Sugar Run Creek and the farm pond has been conducted. Available samples were analyzed for selected inorganic chemicals; analysis for VOC's and semivolatile organic compounds was not conducted. Contamination by VOC's, semivolatile organic compounds, or inorganic chemicals was not detected in one surface water sample collected downgradient of flow from the site at the confluence of the two unnamed tributaries.

    Additional sampling and analysis for VOC's, semivolatile organic compounds, and inorganic chemicals is needed to confirm that site-related contaminants are not migrating to the farm pond, the unnamed tributaries, and ultimately to Sugar Run Creek.

  2. Air - The high volatilization potential and low to intermediate log octanol-water partition coefficients of VOC's indicate that they are readily volatilized from surface water sources; however, environmental sampling of ambient air has not been conducted to date.
  3. Ground Water - The site and surrounding area are underlain by the Catskill Formation which is comprised of a succession of fine- to coarse-grained sandstone, siltstone, and shale. The Catskill attains a thickness of about 5,600 feet. The water-bearing zones are more or less abundant to a depth of 300 feet.

    No public water supply systems are located within 3 miles of the site. Residences within 3 miles use private sources of water, including wells, springs, and cisterns. Approximately 741 of the 764 residents living within 3 miles of the site use private wells produced from the interconnected shale and sandstone members of the Catskill Formation.

    Groundwater samples collected from the on-site monitoring well indicate contamination by VOC's and inorganic chemicals. Groundwater samples collected from nearby residential wells were found to be contaminated by inorganic chemicals, including barium and silver.

    Available information suggests that groundwater flow from the site is southeasterly toward Sugar Run Creek. The structural dip of the underlying geologic formations to the northwest may also contribute to groundwater flow to the north; however, additional hydrogeologic information is needed to accurately define local groundwater flow patterns.

  4. Food Chain Entities - Sampling of aquatic organisms in the farm pond and the unnamed tributaries indicated only a slight degradation in benthic organism communities in the eastern unnamed tributary at a distance of approximately 500 feet downgradient from the site. The low to intermediate log octanol:water partition coefficients of VOC's indicate that they have limited accumulation potential in biological organisms.

    Biological tissue analysis for VOC's and inorganic chemicals was not conducted for the available samples; however, that analysis is needed to determine whether site-related contaminants have accumulated in aquatic organisms in the farm pond, the two unnamed tributaries, and in Sugar Run Creek.

    The farm pond is used as a drinking water source for area livestock; biological sampling of the livestock has not been conducted.

B. HUMAN EXPOSURE PATHWAYS

  1. Surface Water, Leachate, and Sediment - Human exposure to contaminated leachate sediment and surface water is possible given that the site is accessible and that contamination has been documented on-site and off-site. Available information is insufficient to determine the extent of human contact with contaminants. Human exposure pathways include dermal contact with contaminated leachate surface water and sediment, and inhalation of contaminated vapors released from the leachate surface water and sediment.

    Surface water samples collected from the east and west unnamed tributaries and the farm pond were not found to be contaminated by inorganic compounds; however, additional sampling and analysis for VOC's, semivolatile organic compounds, and inorganic chemicals is needed to confirm that human exposures via dermal contact with surface water and inhalation of chemicals volatilized from surface water are not occurring.

  2. Ground Water - Ground water sampled from residential wells was not found to be contaminated with VOC's; however, the presence of elevated inorganic contaminant concentrations in the off-site residential wells downgradient from the site indicates that groundwater contamination at the site may have migrated. Furthermore, VOC's may migrate off-site in the future, where they could be a source of exposure to humans via ingestion, dermal contact, and inhalation. Additional hydrogeologic information and analytical data from sampling of the monitoring well (on-site) and residential wells in the area of the site are needed to determine the potential for human exposure via these pathways.
  3. Air - Ambient air monitoring (in the human breathing zone) has not been conducted at the site. The potential for human exposure via inhalation of volatilized contaminants therefore cannot be assessed.
  4. Food Chain Entities - Contaminated leachate has been observed flowing from the site towards the two unnamed tributaries of Sugar Run Creek. The Pennsylvania Fish Commission presently stocks the creek (in the area of the site) with trout, and the creek is heavily used for fishing and waterfowl hunting. The two unnamed tributaries flowing from the site are not used for recreation or fishing. The farm pond located off-site is used as a drinking water source by area livestock.

    Biological sampling and analysis for VOC's and inorganic chemicals has not been conducted for livestock using the farm pond and for aquatic organisms in Sugar Run Creek. These data are needed to confirm that human exposures are not occurring via ingestion of contaminated food chain entities.

    A state game area is located within 1 mile north of the site. Because the site is readily accessible and contaminated leachate is present, there is a potential for animals to enter the site and contact environmental contaminants. However, visual inspection of the site did not reveal specific features that would attract animals to the area. The physical and chemical properties of the site-related contaminants do not suggest a potential for contaminant accumulation in biological tissues. Human ingestion of contaminated game animals is not considered to be an important pathway of human exposure for the site.


PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

Human exposure to contaminant vapors released from leachate is of greatest concern at the site. Elevated concentrations of VOC's (methylene chloride, trichloroethylene) and low concentrations of inorganic chemicals (barium, cadmium, chromium, lead) were detected in on-site and off-site leachate samples. Because the site is readily accessible, children and teenagers may play near the site or in the farm pond and become exposed to contaminated vapors via inhalation or to contaminated leachate surface water and sediment via dermal contact. Additional sampling, such as real-time air monitoring (in the human breathing zone), is needed to assess potential air exposures.

Dermal contact with methylene chloride and trichloroethene, and inorganic barium, cadmium, chromium, and lead is not considered an important route of exposure into the human body. Human and animal exposures to these contaminants have not been observed to cause significant health effects (e.g., central nervous system toxicity, hepatotoxicity, renal toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, carcinogenicity) when exposure is by the dermal route. Human dermal contact exposure to contaminants in the leachate streams is therefore not considered to be of public health concern.

There is a potential for human exposure via ingestion of and dermal contact with VOC contaminated ground water, and via inhalation of vapors released from VOC contaminated ground water. No public water supplies are located within 3 miles of the site, and local residents use private wells, springs, and cisterns for drinking water and domestic purposes. Groundwater VOC contamination has been documented on-site and may migrate off-site to nearby residential wells.

Ground water sampled from residential wells was found to be contaminated by barium chemicals at levels below the National Primary Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 1 mg/L (1,000 ppb) promulgated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for drinking water supplies. From the available data, human exposure to barium from ground water in these wells is not of public health concern.

Ground water sampled from residential wells was found to be contaminated by silver at levels below the National Proposed Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (PSMCL) of 0.09 mg/L (90 ppb). Secondary standards are based on aesthetic concerns. From the available data, human exposure to silver contamination in ground water in these wells is not of public health concern.

Because sampling data and information are limited regarding the extent of ground water contamination off-site and the location and use of private wells relative to the site, these data and information may be collected to confirm that human exposure via these pathways is not of public health concern.


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