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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

MCADOO ASSOCIATES
MCADOO, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


SUMMARY

The McAdoo Associates site is a National Priorities List (NPL) site and includes the McAdoo-Kline Township (MKT) location and the McAdoo-Blaine Street (MBS) location. Both locations, about 3 miles apart, were operated as one facility. The MKT location is an 8-acre tract of land in Kline Township and the MBS location is about 1 acre in McAdoo Borough. The MBS area was used for storage of waste oil and hazardous wastes in underground tanks. The MKT location operated furnaces and an incinerator to reclaim metals from waste sludges. Both locations ceased operations in 1979.

Site-related contamination poses no public health hazard because there is no evidence of current or past exposures, and future exposures to contaminants at levels of public health concern are unlikely. At the MKT location, a potential pathway for young children through incidental ingestion of the river sediment contaminated with polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) could occur but is unlikely. Also, at the MBS location, a potential pathway for future construction workers exists through incidental ingestion of PAH contaminated soil at a depth of 12 feet and greater. Past remediations and the capping of the MKT location (November 1991) by EPA should significantly reduce or eliminate any further off-site migration and contamination.

No community-specific health outcome data exist to indicate the site has had an adverse impact on health. However, past, present, and future completed exposure pathways to lead, unrelated to the site, in the groundwater exists for residents near the MKT location. The level of lead (maximum 0.041 mg/L) in the private wells could be an additional source, especially for young children, for increasing the body burden of lead. Community health education should be considered for those residents whose private wells are contaminated by non-site related lead.

The data and information developed in the McAdoo Associates 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 for the site; however, non-site related lead exposure through drinking water has occurred and is occurring in some of the population near the site. Community involvement to provide information to the affected families about lead exposure is indicated. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) will provide the community with information about lead in drinking water. 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 McAdoo Associates Superfund site addressed in this public health assessment includes the McAdoo-Kline Township (MKT) location and the McAdoo-Blaine Street (MBS) location (see Appendix A, Figure 1). Because both locations were operated as one facility involving the same ownership and waste, they were combined and collectively called the McAdoo Associates site for evaluation in the Hazard Ranking System (HRS) scoring process. The McAdoo Associates site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) in September 1983.

MKT Location

The MKT location is an eight-acre tract of land located in Kline Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, approximately 1.5 miles south of McAdoo Borough on U.S. Route 309 (see Figure 2). The MKT location was a permitted metal reclamation facility that operated from 1975-1979. Prior to 1969, the site and surrounding area were extensively deep and strip mined for anthracite coal (1).

After the MKT location was acquired by McAdoo Associates, in 1975, two rotary-kiln furnaces and a vertical waste incinerator were installed and operated to reclaim metals from waste sludges, reportedly using waste solvents as fuels (2). The MKT location was ordered closed in mid 1979, at which time the site contained 6,790 drums of hazardous waste and several large storage tanks. During the period 1980-1982, a chain-linked fence was erected and all but one of the storage tanks were removed along with the incinerators and support buildings. The remaining tank was removed in November 1988 (2).

A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was conducted at the MKT location in 1984, and a Record of Decision (ROD) was issued in June 1985 that addressed remedial action of soil contamination. This ROD, however, deferred the decision regarding any remedial action of groundwater and/or surface water and related sediment pending additional evaluation. Also, further soil sampling and soil remediation were recommended and completed in 1988-1989 (3).

The 1985 ROD remedial action for soil at the MKT location included the removal of remaining tanks and debris; limited excavation of contaminated soils; the capping of the site; diversion of surface water; maintenance of diversion ditches and site cover; and long-term groundwater monitoring. All soil-related remedial measures have been completed with the exception of the construction of the site cover (2).

The shallow "aquifer" at the MKT location consists of groundwater filled mine workings and other subsurface voids beneath the MKT location, collectively called the "mine pool." The mine pool discharges at the Silverbrook discharge to the upper reaches of the Little Schuylkill River, the nearest surface water body to the MKT location (Figure 3). The Little Schuylkill River and mine pool have been severely affected by acid mind drainage from the former mining activities in the area, and there is little to no aquatic life in the upper reaches of the river as a consequence of this mine drainage (2).

Residential wells in the vicinity of the MKT location tap the deeper aquifer located within the Pottsville and Mauch Chunk Formations. There appears to be no hydrologic connection between the mine pool and deeper aquifers in the area, based on the results of the 1991 focused RI/FS and previous studies (2).

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) performed a Preliminary Health Assessment on the MKT location in February 1985. That report concluded that although environmental data were limited (RI done after 1985), there was no evidence that the health of residents around the site is, or has been, affected in such a way that it may be revealed through a health study.

MBS Location

The approximately ¼ acre MBS location is located in the Borough of McAdoo, also in Kline Township, Schuylkill County, approximately 3 miles from the MKT location (see Figure 4). The MBS location is situated near a residential area (McAdoo Borough) and mine spoil reclamation site. The MBS location is presently covered with gravel and used for vehicle storage. The nearest surface water body to the MBS location is a small unnamed drainage stream located approximately 400 feet northeast of the location. Water supply in this area is provided by surface water reservoirs and water supply wells operated by the Honeybrook Water Company. These sources are located over 1,000 feet southwest of the MBS location. The water supply wells are screened in the deep aquifer within the Mauch Chunk Formation underlying the region. Surface drainage from the MBS location is to the northeast away from these water supply areas.

The MBS location was used for the storage of waste oil and hazardous waste in five underground tanks prior to incineration at the MKT facility previously discussed. Activities at the MBS location were discontinued in 1979. Based on subsequent investigations of the tanks and tank contents, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a ROD for Interim Remedial Measures (IRM) on June 5, 1984, calling for cleaning and removal of underground tanks, the removal of contaminated soil, and the sampling of subsurface soil. The remedial work was completed by EPA in 1985. It should be noted that the MBS location 1984 IRM ROD included provisions that a supplemental ROD would be prepared after the remedial action was complete to include recommendations for further site action, if any.

Because of the outstanding issues related to the McAdoo site, a supplemental focused RI/FS was conducted by EPA during 1990/1991 to further evaluate the groundwater, surface water, and sediment at the MKT location, and to evaluate the remedial action performed at the related MBS location.

B. Site Visit

On December 13, 1990, a site visit was conducted by Mr. Gary Schultz, Mr. Thomas Hartman, and Dr. James Fox of PADOH. Since that time, some deep soil samples have been collected, but as of September 8, 1993, the physical characteristics of the site have not changed from the following description. Also in attendance at the site were personnel from EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER), a state senator and a local citizen. After our inspection of the site, the PADOH personnel had discussions with several citizens from both McAdoo locations.

The MKT location appeared to be covered with gravel and was locked and enclosed by a chain-linked fence. The surface sloped from the northeast portion of the site to the southwest corner of the site. A wooded area could be seen to the north, mounds of mine spoils to the east and industry (cogenerator) to the northeast. The nearest homes that could be seen were north of the site on Spring Mountain with the nearest home being approximately 1,000 feet from the site (Figure 3). No tanks, debris or other objects were on site. There was no evidence of trespassing.

The MBS location (Figure 4) in the Borough of McAdoo is near a residential area and is currently covered with gravel and stone. No tanks or other debris were seen. Some automobiles were parked on the lot. The site is not fenced and is accessible to the public. The nearest home is within several hundred feet of the site on North Harrison Street.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The MKT location lies approximately 1.5 miles south of McAdoo Borough on U.S. Route 309. Land use in the vicinity is industrial or abandoned or reclaimed mine areas (2). Limited residential areas are located approximately 1,000 feet north of the site (about 50 people) and over 1 mile south (about 100 people) of the MKT location. These two residential areas use wells in the deeper aquifer for their water supply. Data from a residential well survey indicate that the wells surveyed were installed between 1950 and 1979. The wells service established homes. No state gamelands or parks are located within a 2-mile radius of the site. Little Schuylkill River lies south of the site (Figure 3). The river is aesthetically unappealing because of the acidic conditions and is not likely to attract children as a recreational area. However, there is a possibility that children could play in the river. The area is basically wooded, with the exception of the site and sparse vegetation at the mine spoil areas.

Approximately 1,500 feet south of the MKT location, groundwater discharges from the Silverbrook Discharge and becomes the greatest single contributor to the upstream reach of the Little Schuylkill River. The Silverbrook Discharge is the discharge point of groundwater that has collected in the "mine pool" located in the subsurface at the vicinity of the MKT location. The mine pool is fed by precipitation percolating from the surface into old mine workings and fill areas (3). The upper limits of the Little Schuylkill River does not support fish life due to the acid mine drainage (2).

The MBS location is in the Borough of McAdoo which has a population of approximately 2,500 (1990 Census) (3). The homes in this area are supplied with municipal water. The Honeybrook Water Company wells lie 1,000 feet southwest of the MBS location (Figure 1) and are within the deeper (Mauch Chunk) formation (2,3).

D. Health Outcome Data

Using state health data bases, special studies, or other relevant data bases, it may be possible to compare health outcome in areas around hazardous waste sites in Pennsylvania with the state as a whole. This section introduces these data bases. An evaluation of the health data as it relates to the McAdoo site is presented in the Public Health Implications section.

PADOH has maintained death records since 1903. There have been long-standing programs which allow mortality data to be collected at the minor civil division (MCD) level with an acceptable degree of accuracy.

The Pennsylvania Cancer Registry has collected cancer data for all areas of Pennsylvania only since 1984. The newness of the program and mobility of the patients during treatment (treatment could be received at multiple locations) make the collection of accurate data reporting below the county level difficult. The most recent report, published in September 1991, is entitled Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Pennsylvania, 1988. This report only represents data applicable at the county level.

Previous analysis of cancer mortality have been undertaken for the McAdoo area. The outcome of these studies will be discussed in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation section.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Through conversations with citizens and meetings with State and Federal officials, the following concerns were identified in the community:

  1. Are the citizens' private wells near the MKT location contaminated from the site, and has the Honeybrook Water Corporation's water supply been contaminated by the MBS location?
  2. Are the odors that can be occasionally smelled coming from the MKT location a health hazard?
  3. Will a health survey be conducted?
  4. Is there an increase in the number of cancers in the population around the McAdoo site?

A Public Comment period from March 12 through April 14, 1993, did not elicit any additional public concerns about the site or this document.


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