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PRELIMINARY PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

METROPOLITAN MIRROR AND GLASS COMPANY, INCORPORATED
FRACKVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


SUMMARY

The Metropolitan Mirror and Glass site (Metropolitan Mirror) occupies about an 8-acre tract of land at the intersection of Industrial Road and Altamount Avenue in West Mahanoy Township near Frackville in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Between 1959 and 1982, Metropolitan Mirror manufactured mirrors. The plant used a silver solution, paint strippers, paint thinners, and other solvents in making the mirrors.

Two lagoons at the site were used to hold wastewater from the manufacturing plant. This wastewater was contaminated with volatile organic compounds and metals, particularly lead. Sampling performed during the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources' (PADER) investigation, the site inspection, and the site listing did not show that these contaminants had reached the groundwater or were moving off the site.

Metropolitan Mirror allowed residents to take barrels which had contained contaminants and others still containing contaminants for their personal use. Eighteen of the barrels were found at a resident's home in northern Frackville. These drums leaked an unknown amount of contaminant that is believed to be the source of the northern plume of contamination in Frackville. A public water supply well was taken out of service until treatment was completed. The most highly contaminated private well was taken out of service and the establishment was connected to the public water supply. No adverse health effects are likely from this contamination because barrels were not taken off-site until 1982 and the well with the highest contaminant level (430 µg/L) PCE was in service less than two years.

In southern Frackville, there is groundwater contamination at low levels. This area is downgradient of the Frackville Industrial Park, but the exact source of the contamination is not known.

There are no known community health concerns other than the concern of the safety of the public water supply. The public water supply meets safe drinking water standards.

The available evidence does not indicate that persons have been exposed to levels of contamination that could cause concern for public health. However, this site is being classified as one with an indeterminate public health hazard because sampling to date has not confirmed the source of groundwater contamination in southern Frackville. The RI/FS scheduled for 1993 will determine the characterization of groundwater flow in the site area and the source of the contamination to southern Frackville.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) is recommending that all private wells be resampled for both organics and inorganics that were included in the 1987 PADER investigation. An investigation of other potential contamination sources in the Frackville Industrial Park is recommended along with a hydrogeological investigation to determine groundwater flow in the site area.

The data and information developed in the Metropolitan Mirror and Glass, Incorporated, Public Health Assessment have been evaluated for appropriate follow-up health actions. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) determined that people are not being exposed to contaminants from the site at levels that would be expected to cause illness. Therefore, no follow-up health actions are indicated at this time. ATSDR will reevaluate this site for additional follow-up public health actions if new data indicate a need to do so.

The public health action plan (PHAP) for the Metropolitan Mirror and Glass, Incorporated, site contains a description of actions to be taken by ATSDR and/or other governmental agencies at and in the vicinity of 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 PADOH and ATSDR to follow up on this plan to ensure that it is implemented.

PADOH and ATSDR will collaborate with appropriate federal, state, and local agencies to pursue the implementation of the recommendations made in this public health assessment.


BACKGROUND

In cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) evaluated the public health significance of this site. More specifically, ATSDR determined whether health effects are possible and recommended actions to reduce or prevent them. ATSDR, which is in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is authorized by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to conduct public health assessments at hazardous waste sites.

A. Site Description and History

The Metropolitan Mirror site occupies approximately an 8-acre tract of land at the intersection of Industrial Road and Altamount Avenue in West Mahanoy Township near Frackville in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania (Appendix A-Figure 1). A manufacturing building, a small building connected to the manufacturing building, a small pumphouse, a water tower, two lagoons, a stream, and two drainage ditches are on the site (See Figure 2) (1).

Prior to 1959, the site was owned by the Kimerling Estate. In 1959, a large land parcel which included the site, was sold by the Kimerling Estate to the Frackville Merchants Association. Subsequently, the parcel of property was donated to the Greater Pottsville Industrial Development Corporation (GPIDC). In 1959, Metropolitan Mirror purchased a section of the parcel from GPIDC and operated the subject facility until 1982 when the company went bankrupt. Between 1959 and 1982, Metropolitan Mirror manufactured mirrors. The plant used a silver solution, paint strippers, paint thinners, and other solvents in the manufacturing process.

The daily wastewater flow from the plant did not vary because of the continuous production line that was used. Based on 250 work days a year, Metropolitan Mirror discharged approximately 31,250,000 gallons of process wastewater to the lagoons annually (4).

The National Patent Development Corporation acquired the property after Metropolitan Mirror declared bankruptcy and, in May 1987, sold it to the St. Jude Polymer Company, a plastic bottle recycler (2). The 1990 Industrial Directory reports 74 employees work at the current facility. St. Jude Polymer Company does not use the waste water lagoons (3).

Attention was called to the facility in 1987 when contamination was found in the Frackville Public Water Supply. Tetrachloroethene (PCE) was found in Keystone Water Company wells (now Pennsylvania-American), which supply water to the Borough of Frackville. An investigation to find the source of contamination was undertaken by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER). As a result of this investigation, the Metropolitan Mirror and Glass facility and its lagoons were considered potential sources of contamination. ATSDR provided consultation to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during a site investigation in early 1988.

An extensive investigation was conducted by PADER, and based on all samples in the area, two contaminant plumes were identified: a north plume and a south plume.

PADER conducted an investigation to determine the sources of the plumes. The Metropolitan Mirror site was considered to be a possible source for the southern plume, based on samples collected in August 1987 by B.E.S. Environmental Specialties, Inc., under contract to PADER. Due to limited resources and the scope of the project, PADER requested EPA's assistance (1).

In September 1987, EPA and the Technical Assistance Team became involved and took additional samples. Based on data collected up to November 1987, it was determined by the EPA Emergency Response Section that an emergency situation did not exist at the subject site. On July 13, 1988, the NUS Field Investigation Team (FIT) conducted a preliminary assessment of the subject site. Subsequently, a listing site inspection of Metropolitan Mirror was prepared for EPA by the NUS Corporation.

Data tables presented in the public health assessment are from the Listing Site Inspection of November 7, 1989, if not otherwise indicated. Pertinent sampling results from previous field sampling may be indicated in the narrative portion describing on-site and off-site contamination.

This public health assessment will be limited to the sampling and contaminants of concern found during the investigations related to the Metropolitan Mirror site. However, PADER is involved in sampling and groundwater investigations at industries in close proximity to the NPL site. On May 17, 1990, Groundwater and Environmental Services, Inc., (GES) released a Phase II Environmental Site Audit on the Model Garment Company. This report indicates the presence at that site of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), the same compounds responsible for impacting the Frackville area groundwater. This facility is in the Industrial Park immediately upgradient of the affected wells (private residential and community supply wells) and was pinpointed as a possible source during the PADER investigation in the latter part of 1987 (5).

The GES report states that Model Garment stored and used TCA and PCE in their operation. However, it was alluded to in the GES report that Gerwain Chemical (now City Shirt) may have been the source of the TCA and PCE contamination found in the upgradient wells. Both Model Cleaners (now Sunshine Products, Inc.) and Gerwain Chemical (now City Shirt) have been investigated by PADER in their 1987 Frackville TCA-PCE investigation. EPA has been kept informed of changing developments and findings in these continuing investigations (6).

When Metropolitan Mirror was going out of business, it allowed individuals to take contaminated 55-gallon drums from the site. Recipients of the barrels and their intended use or content is not documented. However, eighteen 55-gallon drums were found at a property in northern Frackville. Thirteen of the drums leaked because of corrosion and five drums still contained product. This potential source of contamination will be discussed in the Off-Site Contamination section of this report.

The Metropolitan Mirror and Glass, Inc., site was proposed for listing on the NPL on February 7, 1992, and the final listing was October 8, 1992. A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) began in the summer of 1993, but the data were not available at the time this public health assessment was written. The data will be reviewed when they become available. In this public health assessment, the site is defined as the property boundaries of the former Metropolitan Mirror and Glass Company.

B. Site Visit

Mr. Thomas Hartman and Mr. Robert M. Stroman, with PADOH, and EPA's Remedial Program Manager for the site visited the Metropolitan Mirror site on October 8, 1992. The weather was clear and sunny with the temperature ranging between 50 and 70 degrees for the duration of the visit to the area.

The former Metropolitan Mirror facility is now an active plastic bottle recycling plant. An unpaved parking area is available for employees at the southern part of the building. The site visit team did not enter the building because the present operation has no link to previous activities at the site.

Two on-site lagoons were observed at the site. These shallow water bodies were unlined. The vegetation around the lagoons appeared healthy. Frogs were observed in the lagoon and on the bank's edge. There was a breached 3-foot fence around the lagoons and they did present a physical hazard, particularly to children if they would trespass the area. Mapped areas of the perceived location of former lagoons (used prior to 1969) could not be discerned. The southeast portion of the site had abundant trees and dense groundcover. A high bank extends to Route 81 above this area, which impedes access.

The northern side of the building was identified as the former drum storage area. The former Zapata Industries, Inc., building is approximately 300 feet northeast of the site and employed 25 persons in a bottle closure manufacturing business, according to the 1990 Pennsylvania Industrial Directory. Zapata has moved their operation to Oklahoma and the structure is currently for sale (7).

Later in the day, PADOH and EPA visited the Pennsylvania-American Water Company and spoke with the operations superintendent for Frackville. This visit was very informative.

The superintendent discussed maps of the Frackville area water system and provided PADOH with both information regarding the contamination and names of persons who would be able to provide water quality information. Following the discussion, a contaminated well was observed. This well is in the northern area of Frackville and approximately a mile from Metropolitan Mirror. The well is online, and the water is treated by an air stripper. The balance of the borough wells are near the Pennsylvania-American Water Company office on Laurel Street. Their proximity to the building was depicted on maps, and their direction and distance were described by the superintendent; however, they were not observed firsthand.

Mr. Thomas Hartman and J.E. Godfrey, of PADOH, met with three representatives of PADER and conducted a site visit and hydrogeological field investigation of the Frackville area on October 26, 1992. J.E. Godfrey, PADOH hydrogeologist, and the PADER hydrogeologist concurred that Metropolitan Mirror may not be a primary source for groundwater contamination to the southern plume of contamination in Frackville because of upgradient contamination sources and a suspected groundwater divide at the Metropolitan Mirror site.

The nearest homes to the site were visited during the field work, and a discussion of and/or literature about the public health assessment process was provided to the residents.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

There are no residents on the site. Metropolitan Mirror employed approximately 200 persons with 100 workers on two eight-hour shifts per day. St. Jude Polymer Company employed 74 persons in 1990. Table 1 in Appendix B indicates the population distribution selected distances from the site (1). The closest residence and residential well is approximately 1,250 feet north of the site.

The site is located in West Mahanoy Township, just outside of Frackville Borough in Schuylkill County. Schuylkill County saw a 5 percent reduction in population between 1980 and 1990 while Frackville Borough had a 11.5 percent decrease in population. Conversely, West Mahanoy Township had a 15.4 percent increase in population between censuses. Frackville Borough is over 99 percent White. Table 2 in Appendix B indicates selected demographic parameters for Pennsylvania, Schuylkill County, West Mahanoy Township and Frackville Borough (8).

The closest nursing home and schools are within one to two miles of the site (9,10). There is no hospital within five miles of the site (11).

Land Use

The site is located in a small industrial park near Interstate Route 81 and the exit ramp to Route 61. The site is bordered by the Zapata Industries property to the northeast. North of the site is a wood lot and several commercial establishments. There are also several commercial establishments west of the site. South of the site lie Interstate 81 and the Frackville Prison. A small park is located approximately 3,500 feet northwest of the site (1). Frackville Borough lies approximately one-half mile north of the site and represents the closest population area.

Natural Resources Use

Two municipal water companies use groundwater solely as their potable source within a four-mile radius. The Pennsylvania-American Water Company uses five wells. These wells are located in the Borough of Frackville. Information on the well locations, depths, and well yields can be found in Appendix B - Table 3. Pennsylvania-American supplies a population of approximately 6,876 people serving Frackville Borough and parts of West Mahanoy Township, Butler Township, and New Castle Township (1).

Morea Citizens Water Company also solely uses groundwater for its drinking water. Morea uses one well, which is located approximately two miles northeast of the site and supplies a population of approximately 355 people in the town of Morea. No water quality problems have been reported (1).

Two water authorities, the Ashland Borough Water Works and the Schuylkill Municipal Authority, use primarily surface water not impacted by the site for their water supply source but do maintain back-up wells within the four-mile radius of the site in case of an emergency. The Ashland Borough Water Works' two back-up wells are located between one and two miles west of the site near Mud Run Reservoir. The Ashland Water System services approximately 5,000 people. The Schuylkill Municipal Authority has a back-up well located near Eisenhuth Reservoir, between two and three miles from the site. The Schuylkill Municipal Authority services approximately 33,000 people (1).

The total population using groundwater from municipal and domestic sources is summarized in Table 4 in Appendix B. An on-site well is used for production purposes. Zapata Industries, located just east of the site, also has three wells. One is used to fill a storage tank for fire protection; the other two wells are not currently in use. The closest identified domestic well for potable use is located approximately 1,250 feet north of the site (1). All residences and businesses in Frackville Borough have accessibility to the Pennsylvania-American Water Company.

Stoney Creek runs through the site, but the creek is not accessible at the site. No other surface water bodies are influenced by site contaminants.

D. Health Outcome Data

Health outcome data bases were not reviewed for the Metropolitan Mirror site for reasons discussed in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation section.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Only three residences are located immediately downgradient of the NPL site and use well water for potable purposes. PADER tested these wells in 1987 and visited the homes. Several other residential wells sampled in the southern plume of contamination more distant from the site had low-level contamination. The resident in the northern plume whose water well had the highest contamination did not have any health concerns. Several households were revisited by PADOH during site visits. The only question raised by the community was as follows:

    Are there any health risks in drinking the water from the public supply wells?

This question will be addressed in the Community Health Concerns Evaluation section.


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