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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

ALBION-SHERIDAN TOWNSHIP LANDFILL
SHERIDAN TOWNSHIP, CALHOUN COUNTY, MICHIGAN


SUMMARY

The Albion-Sheridan Township Landfill site was placed on the Environmental ProtectionAgency's National Priorities List on October 4, 1989. The site is an inactive landfill 1 mileeast ofthe city of Albion, Michigan. The site was originally mined for gravel, with some unauthorizedand uncontrolled dumping of waste. The landfill officially operated from 1966 to 1981, acceptingboth municipal and industrial wastes. After the landfill was closed in 1981, it was covered withlocal surface materials, primarily sand and gravel. Between 1981 and 1985, part of the landfillproperty was used as a waste transfer station. The waste transfer station area is not consideredpart of the Superfundsite.

Barrels of wastes were found on the surface of the closed landfill in 1986. The contents ofthesebarrels included hazardous chemicals and flammable or explosive materials. In 1990, thepotentially responsible parties for the site removed 46 barrels from the site for off-site disposal. The site was partially fenced in 1990 and later completed in 1992. Apparently abandonedmachinery, construction debris, and other trash litter the site.

The groundwater and surface soil at the site are contaminated with various metals and organicchemicals. No contamination associated with the site has reached nearby residential wells. Residents of a community near the landfill have expressed concerns about a perceived increasedincidence of cancer and other illness in their community. Investigation of these accounts has notto date identified the source for the concerns, and available cancer incidence data do not indicatean elevated incidence of cancer in the site area.

Under current conditions, the site does not pose any apparent public healthhazard. The site didpose a public health hazard in the past while it was still accessible because trespassers werepossibly exposed to the metals in the surface soil. A potential public health hazard exists forchildren subject to pica behavior; these children might ingest enough metals from the soil around aresidence on former landfill property south of the landfill to incur a slight risk of adverse healtheffects. No children are currently living in this residence, although future occupants might includechildren. This public health assessment recommends that the remediation of the site provideforthe control of off-site migration of contaminants and thatresidential and monitoring wells near thesite be regularly sampled to detect migration of the contaminant plume. The Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry, the Michigan Department of Community Health, and countyhealth departments will develop a program of health education toaddress the health concernsexpressed by the community around the site.

BACKGROUND

The Albion-Sheridan Township Landfill (ASTL) site was placed on the EnvironmentalProtectionAgency's (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) on October 4, 1989.

A. Site Description and History

The ASTL site is an inactive landfill in a 30-acre parcel 1 mile east of the city of Albion. Thesiteis between Michigan Avenue (M-99) and Erie Road, on the Calhoun County side of theCalhoun-Jackson County Line (Figure 1). Before 1966, the site was used as a gravel borrow pitand as anuncontrolled dump. In 1966, the owner obtained a state license to operate a landfill on the site,which accepted municipal refuse and industrial wastes from Albion and nearby SheridanTownship. In the early 1970s, the owner received approval from the Michigan Department ofNatural Resources (MDNR) to accept metal plating sludges described as insoluble hydroxides andcarbonates. Some sources estimate as much as 6,000 cubic yards of sludges were accepted. Inaddition to these metallic sludges, materials believed to have been disposed of at the landfillinclude paint wastes and thinners, consisting of dried paint residues and waste thinner similar to"turpoline"; oil and grease; and dust, sands, and soil, containing fly ash and casting sands from anearby foundry. The landfill was closed in 1981, and the property was divided for sale as shownin Figure 2 (taken from Reference 1, Figure 2). Records and aerial photographs examined by theEPA's remedial investigation (RI) contractors indicate that the landfill was initially centered inParcel C in Figure 2 and eventually spread into Parcels A and E, covering 18 acres of the 30-acreproperty. Parcel B was used as a waste transfer station between 1981 and 1985. The area of thewaste transfer station is not considered part of the Superfund site, and any environmentalcontamination found there will be addressed separately.

Tests conducted in 1980 indicated that the sludges contained high levels of chromium,cadmium,lead, nickel, and cyanide. During an inspection in March 1986, EPA found approximately 40drums at the site. Some drums were leaking and appeared to be filled with oil and grease wastes. An empty tank of approximately 8,000-gallon capacity was also observed on the site (2)1. Thenature of the former contents of the tank is not known. Waste deposits in the landfill were foundto be 15 to 35 feet deep in wells drilled during the EPA contractors' field work for the RI in 1992(1). The landfill is covered with between 1 and 2 feet of sand and gravel (based on measurementsmade during the RI in 1992 [3] and on MDNR test-pitting activities in 1994 [4]), and indicationsof burning are evident on the site. Vegetation, very dense in some places, is growing on thelandfill cover.

An EPA technical assistance team investigated the site on October 12, 1989, at therequest of theAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Resultsof the samples taken fromfour barrels during that visit tentatively identified ignitable hazardous waste (flash point less than75F) in three barrels and five volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the other barrelsample (5). In the summer of 1990, two potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for the site, under a unilateraladministrative order from EPA, removed 22 full and 24 empty drums from the site, and installedfencing at several entrances to the site (6). The work plan for the remedial investigation/feasibilitystudy (RI/FS) for this site was prepared in August 1992 (7). Field work for the RI was carriedout in the fall of 1992 through the spring of 1993. The final RI report was released in April 1994(1). As part of the RI field work, a fence was installed around most of the site, except for ParcelD (see Figure 2) and a portion of Parcel C. The latter portion, which includes a segment of thelandfill, had recently been sold to the owner of Parcel D, who refused to grant an easement acrosshis property (8).

In July 1994, EPA's RI contractors issued a presumptive remedy risk assessment (PRRA) forthesite. In the PRRA, the contractors calculated the risks assuming that the landfill would beproperly capped to eliminate any contact with contaminated surface material on the site. Theyconcluded that the residents of the site area who used existing residential wells would not incurany significant risk of noncancer adverse health effects. The residents would incur an increasedcancer risk below the EPA acceptable risk level of 1 in 10,000, although the increased risk wouldexceed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)2 acceptable risk level of 1 in100,000, primarily because of arsenic in the surface soil. The arsenic concentrations in thesoilnear the site were comparable to background levels(9).

To estimate the risk from the maximum possible exposure to contaminantsat the site, the PRRAcontractors calculated the risk assuming a new residential well drew water from the contaminantplume on or near the site. A person who uses water from such a well might incur a significantrisk of noncancer adverse health effects and an increased cancer risk in excess of the EPA andMDEQ acceptable risk levels from the arsenic, antimony, thallium, and1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane in the groundwater (9). In September 1994, EPA's RI contractorsissued thefeasibility study report for the site (10).

In October and November 1993, MDNR conducted a magnetometer survey of the landfill. Thesurvey identified several magnetic anomalies, indicating possible buried metal. MDNR personnelalso noted an area of visible, partially buried drums on the landfill, coinciding with one of themagnetic anomalies. In January 1994, MDNR and EPA were negotiating the removal of thesedrums (11). In June 1994, MDNR excavated test pits in the landfill and concluded that 200 to 400 drums could also be buried in the landfill (4).

On March 28, 1995, EPA signed a record of decision (ROD) for the remediation of the ASTLsite. The remedy includes removing approximately 200 drums of hazardous liquid wastes foroff-site disposal, constructing a cap including a gas treatment system for the landfill, consolidatingthewaste away from private homes, monitoring the groundwater contamination through monitoringand residential wells, and issuing a temporary advisory against use of the contaminatedgroundwater. EPA expects natural processes to reduce the contamination in the groundwater. Ifthe contaminant concentrations have not decreased after 5 years, a groundwater treatment systemwill be constructed and implemented (12).

Two aquifers are beneath the site. The upper aquifer consists of unconsolidated glacialdeposits. These deposits of sand and gravel range in thickness from 41 to 90 feet. Underlying the glacialdeposits is the Marshall Formation, a sandstone bedrock. Both of these aquifer units are used asdrinking water sources. A noncontinuous clay layer is between the two units. These two aquifersare believed to be hydraulically connected. The top 5 to 30 feet (depending upon location) of thesandstone shows signs of weathering. The EPA's RI contractors described the groundwater at thesite as occurring in three units: the shallow glacial, the weathered bedrock, and the deeperbedrock. The water table in the upper aquifer is found at 10 feet below the surface. Groundwaterin all three units flows in a south to southwesterly direction, toward and discharging into theKalamazoo River. The groundwater flow in the shallow glacial aquifer is strongly affected by thisriver. Under the landfill, the flow is southwestward, turning southward as it nears the river.

The Michigan Department of Public Health (MDPH),3under a cooperative agreement withATSDR, prepared a preliminary health assessment for this site on September 10, 1990. Thepreparers of the preliminary health assessment concluded that the site was of potential publichealth concern because of possible past and future exposure to the contaminants through directcontact, incidental ingestion, and inhalation of contaminatedsurface material. Restricting siteaccess, removing drums from the site, monitoring groundwater near the site, and sampling surfacewater and sediment were recommended. Further health studies of residents in the vicinity of thesite were not recommended; although possible past and present human exposure to contaminantswas indicated, no evidence supported that exposure had actually occurred (13).

B. Site Visits

MDPH staff visited the site in February 1989. Brendan Boyle of MDPH, Calhoun CountyHealthDepartment personnel, and personnel from an EPA contractor toured the site in October 1989. During the October visit, it was noted that warning signs had been placed at the front and backroad entrances to the site, but the site remained otherwise unrestricted to public access.

Brendan Boyle and John Filpus of MDPH visited the site on November 10, 1992, meetingwithMDNR, Calhoun County Health Department, EPA, and contractor personnel at the site. Theytoured the site on foot, walking around the perimeter inside the recently installed fence. One ofthe monitoring wells for the RI was being installed at the northeast corner of the site. The landfillwas well vegetated. Demolition materials covered a large area in the northeast corner of thelandfill proper. A steam shovel, apparently abandoned after the landfill was closed, was in a pit inthe middle of the site. A concrete loading dock, constructed for the transfer station operation,was observed in the northern part of the landfill property. The proximity to the landfill of thehouse on the southern part of the site was noted. Boyle and Filpus also toured, by car, theAmberton Village subdivision east of the site. They noted that the westernmost row of plots inthe subdivision, on the west side of Olympia Street, was not developed and covered by heavywoods, screening the landfill from the subdivision. A pile of trash was in the cul-de-sac at the south end of Olympia Street (Figure 2).

On June 12, 1997, MDCH staff talked with Kim Sakowski, the site manager for the MDEQ,to obtain information on the status of the site. She stated that other than the subsequent installationof two monitoring wells the site was in the same condition as it was when we last visited it. Shesaid the PRPs have completed pre-design field investigations of the site and submitted the 95%design plan for the remediation of the site to the MDEQ. The PRPs expect to begin constructinga new cap for the landfill in September 1997 (14).

Other observations and information acquired during these visits are included in theappropriate sections of this assessment.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural ResourceUse

The ASTL site is located in the east ½ of the southeast quadrant of Section 36 ofSheridanTownship (T. 2 S., R. 4 W.) in Calhoun County, Michigan. Sheridan and three other townshipsmeet at the southeast corner of the Section, approximately 300 feet south of the southeast cornerof the ASTL site. Parma Township, Jackson County, is to the east of Sheridan Township, and theeastern boundary of the site is on the boundary between Sheridan and Parma townships andbetween Calhoun and Jackson counties. Albion Township is south of Sheridan Township, andConcord Township in Jackson County is south of Parma Township. The populations of thesefour townships and of the city of Albion from the 1990 Census are listed in Table 1. Albion citylimits are 1 mile west of the ASTL, and the Albion city center is approximately 1.5 miles west ofthe site. According to 1990 Census data, the people in Calhoun and Jackson counties were 89%white, 9.2% African-American, 0.6% Asian or Pacific Islanders, 0.5% Native American, 0.7%other race, and 1.7% of Hispanic descent. Census data indicate that 26.2% of the population ofthe two counties were under 18 years of age and that 12.8% were over 65 (15).

A residential subdivision, Amberton Village, is located directly east of the landfill. Land use surrounding the site is both rural residential and commercial/industrial. No land is used for agricultural purposes, and land irrigation does not occur within 3 miles of the site. Thepopulation within 1 mile of the site is approximately 1,200 people. A total of about 13,000people within a 3-mile radius of the site use groundwater for drinking water, including some10,000 people served by the Albion municipal water system, the residents of Amberton Villagewho have their own community water system, and another 2,300 people who rely on private wellsfor their water supply.

The service area for the Albion municipal water system includes the city and extends alongMichigan Avenue east to Newburg Road (also known as 29½ Mile Road), approximately0.5miles west of the ASTL site. The system's source is groundwater from seven wells within thecity. Three of Albion's municipal wells are located approximately 1 mile west of the ASTL site inthe Clark Street Wellfield (shown in Figure 1), and four of the city's wells are located about 2.5miles west of the site in the Brownswood and Albion Street wellfields. The Clark Street wells arecompleted into the Marshall Sandstone with total depths ranging from 254 to 260 feet. Two ofthese wells are cased to a depth of 76 feet, with the third well cased to a depth of 58 feet. TheBrownswood wells are currently used to supplement other wellfields duringseasonal peakdemand.

The Amberton Village subdivision, east of the landfill, has its own water supply system,ownedand operated by Parma Township, Jackson County. The system uses two wells locatedapproximately 1,300 feet northeast of the center of the landfill (Figure 2). Both of these wells arecompleted into the Marshall Sandstone Formation at an approximate depth of 350 feet and casedto a depth of 95 feet.

The landfill owner/operator formerly occupied a residence in the southwest corner of the siteandreportedly used a 108-foot-deep well for drinking water. In 1983, the landfill owner/operatorsold the parcel that includes the residence (Parcel D in Figure 2), and the new owners occupy theresidence. No information is available on the current status of the 108-foot-deep well (7, 16). The contractors carrying out the RI sampled a well serving this residence, citing a depth of 80 feet (3).

Another NPL site, the McGraw-Edison facility, is located 1 mile west of the ASTL site. TheBrooks Foundry industrial site, the scene of an EPA emergency removal action, is approximately0.5 mile west of the ASTL site. Both of these sites are shown in Figure 1. Approximately 30private wells in the surrounding neighborhood were sampled in September 1989 in conjunctionwith the investigations of these two sites.

D. Health Outcome Data

The available information does not indicate that significant exposure to site-relatedcontaminantshas occurred at the ASTL site. As mentioned in the following section, community residents haveexpressed concern about a perceived increased incidence of disease, particularly cancer, in theAmberton Village subdivision. The assessors have consulted with the Jackson and CalhounCounty Health Departments about this concern.

In response to the reported community concern about cancer incidence, the assessorsobtainedcancer incidence data from the MDCH Office of the State Registrar and Center for HealthStatistics. The evaluation of these data will be discussed in a later section of this assessment.


COMMUNITYHEALTH CONCERNS

During a telephone conversation with health assessment personnel from the MichiganDepartmentof Community Health (MDCH) on December 9, 1992, Calhoun County Health Departmentpersonnel reported that a Calhoun County Board of Health member had mentioned that residentsof the Amberton Village subdivision had expressed concerns about a high incidence of illness,especially cancer, among them and their neighbors (17). MDCH spoke with the Calhoun CountyBoard of Health again on June 16, 1997. No additional health concerns or questions related tothis site have been received since the previous inquiry.


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