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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

MODERN SANITATION LANDFILL
YORK, YORK COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

SUMMARY

The Modern Landfill, National Priorities List (NPL) site, is located adjacent to Prospect Road approximately 8 miles west of the city of York in Windsor and Lower Windsor Townships, York County, Pennsylvania. On-site and off-site groundwater were found to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds. Yorkana, a residential community with an estimated population of 300, lies about a mile northeast of the site. Within a one-quarter mile radius are a number of additional residential homes and businesses. Some of the businesses and private homes maintained wells. Nearby residents are concerned about potential exposure to contaminants through their drinking water. Modern Landfill is currently operating a waste treatment facility that treats contaminated groundwater and leachate from the site. Exposure to contaminated air represents a completed exposure pathway for on-site workers. Since the site is secured with a chain-linked fence and not readily accessible to the public, on-site exposure to contaminants by trespassers is not likely.

The site is considered no apparent public health hazard since available data do not indicate that off-site humans are being or have been exposed to levels of contaminants that could be expected to cause adverse health effects. However, chemical-specific air monitoring of the on-site breathing zone for benzene and other VOCs is necessary in order to substantiate that this site does not pose a risk to public health to on-site workers. The Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry's (ATSDR) Health Activities Recommendation Panel has evaluated this site for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. Although exposure to on-site workers may be currently occurring and probably has occurred in the past, this site is not being considered for follow-up health activities at this time because the levels and duration of exposure cannot be characterized. This site will be reevaluated when the results of on-site breathing zone air sampling results, as recommended, are available.

BACKGROUND

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

Modern Landfill is a 283-acre facility located adjacent to Prospect Road, approximately 8 miles west of the city of York in Windsor and Lower Windsor Townships, Adams County, Pennsylvania. The site where Modern Landfill is located has been used continuously for municipal waste disposal since the early 1940's. In addition to commercial and residential refuse, Modern Landfill accepted, and was in the past permitted to accept, several industrial waste streams during the operating history of the 66-acre unlined landfill, which is part of the Superfund site discussed in this health assessment. The original 66-acre unlined landfill is operated by Modern Trash Removal of York, Inc. (Modern) under a lease agreement with its owner. Modern owns additional property contiguous to the leasehold and has been operating the landfill since 1974.

Modern installed groundwater and leachate interceptor and extraction systems to collect and prevent the migration of groundwater containing leachate constituents from the landfill. These systems include lines of extraction wells both east and west of the inactive 66-acre unlined landfill and an interceptor trench west of the unlined landfill. Groundwater collected by the extraction systems and the interceptor trench along with leachate from lined landfill areas is treated in a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER) permitted wastewater treatment plant to remove inorganic and organic contaminants (Figure 1). The original 66-acre unlined landfill is also equipped with a gas-management system to control odors and to prevent landfill gas from migrating beyond Modern's property. In addition, Modern has installed surface water runoff controls including sedimentation basins to prevent potentially silt-laden runoff from reaching the nearby Kreutz Creek.

For the purposes of this Public health assessment, the 72-acre Modern landfill CERCLA site includes the unlined 66-acre landfill and all property leased by Modern from Horace Heindel up to and including monitoring wells just within the eastern and western edges of the extraction systems (Figure 1).

Following initiation of landfilling operations, Modern Landfill has undergone extensive study. In 1975, RE. Wright Associates, Inc. (REWAI) investigated the feasibility of utilizing shallow pumping wells as a primary leachate-recovery system and concluded that leachate from the landfill could be effectively collected in this manner (1).

In 1981, PADER collected groundwater samples from wells and springs in the vicinity of Modern Landfill and detected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in some of the samples.

In 1982, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region III Field Inspection Team contractor conducted a Preliminary Assessment and Site Investigation and recommended further study. Also in 1982, Applied Geotechnical and Environmental Services, Inc. (AGES) conducted a hydrogeologic study of Modern Landfill. This study included the sampling of surface water, monitoring wells, and residential drinking water wells.

In 1983, AGES evaluated the effectiveness of the western interceptor trench and determined it should be modified and upgraded. AGES also began quarterly sampling of monitoring wells during this year.

In 1984, REWAI conducted an Investigation of Leachate Collection Alternatives in the Western Perimeter Region and NUS Corporation completed a toxicological review of sampling and analysis performed at Modern Landfill by PADER, FIT Region III, and AGES Corporation.

In 1985, as a follow-up to their 1984 study, REWAI conducted a Phase I Investigation of Leachate Interception Alternatives in the Northern and Eastern Perimeter of the landfill. REWAI found organic contaminants at the eastern but not the northern border of the landfill and recommended monitoring to the north and the installation of a line of pumping wells along the eastern tributary. REWAI then installed 13 extraction wells along the eastern perimeter and evaluated the initial six months of operation of the western interceptor well system. Also, in 1985, Technos evaluated hydrogeology at Modern Landfill and summarized the results of earlier reports. Technos noted that groundwater may be flowing along bedded planes, joints, and fractures in the bedrock.

In 1986, at the direction of PADER, Ecology and Environment, Inc. prepared a draft Remedial Action Master Plan and Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study. Also, during this year, REWAI evaluated the geology underlying Modern Landfill and identified various formations and Fred C. Hart Associates conducted a geotechnical evaluations of Modern Landfill, including borings to define the subsurface conditions.

In 1987, REWAI conducted a Phase II investigation, design, and start-up of the Eastern Perimeter Groundwater Collection Well System of Modern Landfill. The draft report concluded that the eastern perimeter collection system was capturing the majority of groundwater flow; however, some flow was bypassing the system to the north.

In 1989, a Preliminary Health Assessment was prepared for the site by the ATSDR's Office of Health Assessment (2).

B. SITE VISIT

On June 6, 1990, a site visit was conducted by Pennsylvania Department of Health's (PADOH) Health Assessment Team members and personnel from PADER, ATSDR Region III, and EPA. Areas of interest were the eastern and western groundwater extraction systems, the gas extraction system, sedimentation basins, the groundwater and leachate treatment facility, the western groundwater interceptor trench, nearby waterways and surrounding agricultural, residential, and business areas.

The day of the site visit, the temperature was approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the winds were moving in a northeasterly direction. The landfill was observed to be partially covered with grass. Groundwater extraction systems were observed and functioning. Gases were observed being burnt off at the gas extraction system. No off-site odors were noticed. Heavy equipment was observed moving domestic trash and soil in the active area of the site; however, there was no visual evidence of fugitive dust migrating off-site as a result of this activity. With the exception of hardhats, no personnel protection equipment was observed being used by on-site workers. Sedimentation basins and the wastewater treatment facility were also observed. A tanker truck immediately outside the wastewater treatment facility was observed spraying liquid onto the dirt road. A strong, pungent odor was noticeable following the application of the liquid to the road. Access to the site was partially restricted by a chain-linked, barbed-wire fence which had been installed along the perimeter of the property. Three entrances to the facility along Prospect Road were observed. Two of the entrances allow for direct, unmonitored access by the public. The third area, the main entrance, includes a weigh-in station and was heavily monitored. All three entrances had security gates that were open at the time of the site visit. The interceptor trench was also observed. There was no visual evidence of water or leachate in the interceptor trench. Cattle were observed grazing on a farm adjacent to the landfill. Nearby waterways, residential homes, and businesses were also observed.

The U.S. EPA Remedial Project Manager (RPM) was contacted on March 27, 1992 to determine the current site status in relation to the observations made during the April, 1990 site visit. The RPM indicated that with the exception of the addition of two monitoring wells, the current status of the site is believed to be the same as observed during the 1990 site visit.

C. DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

The site is located in a semi-rural area and surrounding land is used for agricultural and residential purposes. Modern Landfill is an active facility with approximately 40 employees.

The landfill is bordered on the north by an automobile junkyard. Approximately one-quarter mile northeast of the site is the town of Yorkana. Yorkana has an estimated population of 300 (Figure 2). The Kreutz Creek is also located north of the site.

The southern edge of the landfill is bordered by the former Druck and Brown properties and two former residences. Both residences have been demolished. The town of Red Lion is also located approximately 4 miles south of the landfill. Red Lion has an estimated population of 6,000.

A transformer substation, farm land, and the eastern tributary to the Kreutz Creek are located east of the landfill. Approximately 5 miles further east is the community of East Prospect. East Prospect has an estimated population of 500.

The western tributary to the Kreutz Creek is located west of the landfill. Approximately 8 miles further west is York, the nearest city to the landfill.

The site is bounded on the east, north and west by two tributaries which are referred to as the eastern and western tributaries. The tributaries are fed by springs and runoff. The flow from these springs has been greatly reduced by the groundwater extraction systems, which are currently operating along the eastern and western perimeters of the site. The two tributaries flow northward and discharge into Kreutz Creek, which then flows northwards and eastwards, 11 stream miles, into the Susquehanna River. Kreutz Creek does not supply water to any downstream inhabitants or municipalities.

Away from the immediate vicinity of the Modern Landfill, the land is used predominantly for farming with some pasture land. Several woodland areas and small apple orchards are also located in the area. There are no major wetlands adjacent to the site.

Approximately 800 people live within a mile radius of Modern Landfill. There are about 200 buildings within this area. Within a 3-mile radius of Modern Landfill, approximately 3,100 people use private wells. The nearest municipal services are the York Water Supply Company to the west, and the Red Lion Municipal Authority to the south. Private wells downgradient of the site have been replaced by a municipal water supply.

Two wells, which have served as public water sources, are located within 3 miles of the CERCLA site. These wells served the Yorkana Mobile Home Park, approximately 1.5 miles northeast of the CERCLA site, and the Hillside Mobile Home Park located approximately 0.5 mile northwest of the site. Currently, the Yorkana Mobile Home Park is receiving municipal water.

Most residential wells are used strictly for domestic purposes. In general, well water is not used for irrigation but may be used for watering gardens. Two wells on the property owned by Horace Heindel adjacent to the west side of the existing 66-acre unlined landfill were used to water 300 head of dairy cattle. It is understood that the cattle have been relocated and Modern will be decommissioning these wells.

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 Modern Landfill site is presented in the Public Health Implications section.

PADOH maintains vital records of live births, fetal deaths and reports of induced termination of pregnancy; however, with the exception of live births, 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 vitality 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

A citizens group called Save and Conserve Resources and Environment Around Modern (S.C.R.E.A.M.), formed in 1987, was actively interested in the operation of Modern Landfill for several years. The group's main concerns were groundwater and private water supply contamination. The lead residents of the group have moved out of the area and S.C.R.E.A.M. has disbanded. Since then, two other citizens action groups with similar concerns, the Environmental Justice Coalition and People Against Contamination, were formed. The following is the health-related concern:

  1. What is the likelihood of my private well becoming contaminated from off-site migration of contaminants from the Modern Landfill site and when will municipal water be available?

The PADOH placed a notice in The York Dispatch newspaper, York, Pennsylvania, informing the public of the availability of this public health assessment report for Delta Quarries/Stotler Landfill site, Blair County. During the public comment period, between May 13 and June 19, 1992, the PADOH did not recieve any comments.


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