PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
FIRST PIEDMONT ROCK QUARRY
BEAVER PARK, VIRGINIA
First Piedmont Rock Quarry (FPRQ) is an abandoned rock quarry which was subsequently used to dispose of wastes from several industries. The site is adjacent to the unincorporated community of Beaver Park, which is 6 miles north of Danville, Virginia. An estimated 450 individuals live within a one-mile radius of the site. Community concern has been expressed over the present and future quality of drinking water. Local residents depend on private wells to supply their water needs. Even though the private wells are upgradient of the site, local health department staff held a meeting with citizens in 1985 and subsequently tested drinking water from private wells at the request of citizens. Elevated levels of lead and iron were found in one well and manganese and iron were found in another, but the contamination is not likely site-related. Groundwater from the site flows away from private wells, and those contaminants are often present in private well water as a result of home plumbing or naturally occurring sources. The most recent round of sampling (October 1993) did not indicate the presence of lead or manganese at levels of health concern in any private wells. Iron was elevated in one well.
Although on-site environmental media have relatively elevated contaminant concentrations, site access is restricted, although occasional trespassing may have occurred in the past. Groundwater at the site is contaminated, but the groundwater does not flow toward any drinking water wells. Therefore, the site poses no apparent public health hazard. Periodic sampling of private wells in the vicinity of the site is recommended because of community concern.
To determine if Public Health Actions are needed, ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) evaluated the data and information developed in the First Piedmont Rock Quarry Public Health Assessment. Site trespassers, if any, may have been exposed to contaminants. If trespassers have been exposed, those exposures may have been at levels that could cause illness or disease, but the duration of the possible exposure is not known. One private well was contaminated with lead at levels that may cause illness or injury, although the contamination does not appear to be site-related. Therefore, HARP determined that community health education is needed.
A public health action plan (PHAP) for the site contains a description of actions to be taken (or that have been taken) by ATSDR and/or other governmental agencies to ensure public health safety. Actions that have been taken include installation of a fence to restrict site access, periodic monitoring of private wells, and signing of a Record of Decision that describes a plan to remediate the site. Actions that are planned include education efforts from involved agencies that will be coordinated with the Pittsylvania/Danville Health District, who in turn will assess public reaction and requirements for further educational efforts. Also, the Pittsylvania/Danville Health District will assist in collecting samples for residential wells within the site vicinity in coordination with other monitoring efforts. Should the monitoring reveal any change in the information already gathered, ATSDR and EPA will be made aware of the findings so that actions to prevent human exposure can be taken.
The First Piedmont Rock Quarry (FPRQ) site is located approximately 6 miles north of Danville, Pittsylvania County, Virginia (Figure 1). The unincorporated community of Beaver Park is southeast of the site and Lawless Creek is about 1,200 feet west of the site (Figure 2). The site is immediately north of Route 719 and approximately 1,000 feet northwest of its intersection with Route 360.
The FPRQ site is a 4-acre abandoned rock quarry (landfill portion covers approximately 2 acres) located on a topographically high ridge. The quarrying operation resulted in a 65-foot deep pit bounded on three sides by the quarry's high walls. Subsequent filling of the quarry with waste has eliminated the exposed high walls except for an approximately 30-foot high section of the wall on the south side of the quarry.
There is sparse vegetation in the quarry area, but dense wooded areas surround the quarry. Ponds of water have formed adjacent to the exposed quarry wall on the south side of the site, and seepage and a pond of water exist on the north side of the site. These are referred to, respectively, as the South Pond and North Pond (Figure 3). Drainage from the site flows into Lawless Creek, which is a tributary to Fall Creek that flows into the Dan River. A chain-link fence separates the site from State Route 719 but does not completely encircle the site; therefore, site access is not completely restricted.
The geology of the site is characterized by saprolitic soils overlying an irregular bedrock subsurface. The bedrock is a massive, moderately fractured granitic gneiss. The saprolitic soils are silty sands to silty clays, which are a result of in-place weathering of the granitic gneiss.
Groundwater in the vicinity of the site occurs in the lower saprolitic soils and the upper fractured bedrock, generally within 30 feet of the surface. Groundwater tends to flow in a direction which follows the topography. Groundwater gradients indicate that flow for both the shallow and deep (bedrock) groundwater is to the northwest toward Lawless Creek.
Areas of site-related contamination include all waste materials, soil, and water within the quarry; and the Waste Pile and Carbon Black Pile located adjacent to the quarry (Figure 3). The Old Disposal Area, about 100 feet southwest of the Carbon Black Pile, was created prior to the quarry operations and is not considered to be part of the site. Most of the wastes in the quarry consist of industrial materials including tires, glass, tobacco products, and general waste material (i.e., pallets, lumber, etc.).
Waste materials exposed at the surface are mainly tires, glass, drums filled with solid waste, and household debris disposed illegally after the quarry was closed. The waste pile, located southwest of the quarry, covers approximately 300 square feet, and is about 0.5 to 1.0 foot in depth. Its contents include scrap rubber, nylon cord, steel wire, pallets, and glass. The carbon black pile, located west of the quarry, encompasses an area of approximately 1,200 square feet, a depth of 2 feet, and a volume of approximately 90 cubic yards.
The site was leased from a local private landowner by First Piedmont Corporation (FPC) from March 1970 to July 1972 and used to dispose of 15,000 gallons of liquid waste. These wastes consisted of solvents, carbon black, and detergents generated during floor cleaning operations by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. Additional wastes were contributed by Corning Glass Works and Universal Leaf Tobacco Company. A 1972 fire, believed to be a result of spontaneous combustion of the wastes, resulted in an order for closure issued by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Disposal operations were terminated in July 1972, and the site was subsequently covered with 1 to 2 feet of clayey soils. In June 1981, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company notified FPC that some of the wastes that had been deposited in the quarry were hazardous substances as defined by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)(1).
The site was first proposed for inclusion on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) in April 1985. In November 1985, an initial Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Potentially Responsible Parties (PRP) identified in the Remedial Investigation (RI) included Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Corning Glass Works, and First Piedmont Corporation (13). The Record of Decision (ROD) for the site was signed by EPA on June 28, 1991. The selected remedies include:
- Excavation and off-site disposal of the Carbon Black, Waste Pile and the
Northern Drainage soils and sediments.
- A RCRA Subtitle C cap on the landfill.
- Collection of leachate with treatment at a publicly owned treatment works.
- Washing and off-site disposal of surface debris.
- Groundwater monitoring.
- Institutional controls including deed restrictions and site access restrictions.
Currently, the Remedial Design for site remediation is underway. The Remedial Design phase is expected to be complete by the summer of 1994.
Personnel from EPA, ATSDR, the Virginia Department of Waste Management, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Westinghouse Environmental and Geotechnical Services, Inc., and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) staff (Gerald C. Llewellyn, Ph.D.; Peter C. Sherertz, Ph.D.; Stan Orchel, Jr.; Sanjay Thirunagari; and Connie K. Webb) conducted a site visit to the First Piedmont Rock Quarry (FPRQ) on August 14, 1990.
The layout of the rock quarry is similar to a large tilted bowl. The Seepage Area, North Pond, and upper Northern Drainage are all connected. Soil staining indicates, that during high water flow periods, some surface water drains from the seepage area southwestward to the Southern Drainage. The South Pond has no direct surface connection with the other major on-site surface water areas. Access to the site was not completely restricted at the time of the site visit. Children at play, as well as others such as hunters, may occasionally trespass on site.
The following observations were made during this visit:
- Waste materials such as rubber, glass, and broken drums were exposed at
the surface of the landfill. Household dumping was evident.
- Stagnant water was observed in the North and South ponds.
- Evidence of runoff erosion was observed on the southwest side of the landfill.
- Vegetation on the landfill was sparse.
- The nearest homes were located on the south side of the site.
- Approximately 100 drums, containing waste generated during the RI (13), were present in a fenced area on-site.
On February 8, 1994, ATSDR contacted EPA to determine current site conditions. The site was fenced in the spring of 1993. Additionally all drums that contained waste generated during the RI have been removed from the site.
VDH estimates that approximately 450 individuals live within a 1-mile radius of the site and use groundwater as their drinking water source. Beaver Park, a community of approximately 260 people, is located southeast of the site. The community of Blairs is located about 2 miles northwest of the site. Since these communities are unincorporated, there are no further demographic data available.
FPRQ is situated approximately 1,200 feet east of Lawless Creek. Lawless Creek flows southwesterly and discharges into Fall Creek, which is the main drainage basin for the area. Eventually, Fall Creek drains into the Dan River, approximately 12 miles southeast of the site. The Dan River is used as a municipal water supply through the Danville Water Department.
Groundwater is used as a potable water source for local residents along State Route 719 in the Beaver Park community south and southeast of the site. The nearest residence and private well is located approximately 110 feet southwest of the site. The wells in that area are reported to have an average depth of 40 feet.
Lawless and Fall Creeks are classified as warm water streams and are inhabited by a variety of fish species which include sunfish, bluegills, catfish, and possibly white suckers. They are not state-stocked trout streams; however, they are used for recreational fishing. Lawless Creek is used for recreational activities (children wade and play in the creek) within 1 mile downstream of the site. Because site access is not fully restricted, children playing in the area or other people, such as hunters, could wonder onto the site.
Aerial photographs and records indicate farmland, forests, and residential areas exist in the vicinity of the site. Some land is used for crop production of tobacco and corn. Land along Lawless Creek includes pastures for grazing animals, including beef cattle.
Following consultations with state and local health officials, VDH determined that no site-specific health data are available for the FPRQ site.
Nearby residents first became aware that the site posed a potential threat to their water supply when the site was proposed for inclusion on the NPL in April 1985. The Danville Health Department organized a public meeting at that time in anticipation of citizen concerns or questions. Approximately 40 residents attended and were shown a map of the site. Local officials present described how contamination could move through groundwater, and residents were told that they might have to use an alternative water supply if testing indicated contamination of private wells. The health department announced that it would sample 15 randomly-chosen residential wells. According to a health department official and local news reporters, public reaction to the meeting was positive. Results of the health department testing were announced in June 1985. Residents received letters from the health department stating that their water met state and federal drinking water quality standards and that an alternative water supply would not be necessary. On June 20, 1985, EPA sampled the drinking water again and announced that there was no immediate risk to area residents.
The community members around FPRQ are concerned about their current and future water quality. Because of the earlier actions of the local health department, residents are relying on local government to effectively deal with the problem. In a meeting on April 16, 1991, with staff from the Virginia Department of Waste Management, Mr. William Sleeper, Pittsylvania County Administrator, identified two environmental groups that may be interested in the site (Southside Concerned Citizens and Pittsylvania Environmental Awareness). A public meeting held on that date to discuss the proposed option for remediation attracted approximately 50 people from the surrounding area. Many issues other than health concerns were raised; however, the question asked most frequently was "How do we know that contaminated groundwater is not flowing into private wells?" At a March 11, 1993, workshop, approximately 60 people attended to voice a request that a public water line be installed for residents.
The initial draft of this document was released for public comment from March 1 through March 31, 1993. Copies of the initial draft were available to the public at the Pittsylvania County Public Library, 24 Military Drive, Chatham, VA; Danville City Health Department, 326 Taylor Drive, Danville, VA; and with the Pittsylvania County Administrator, 21 North Main Street, Chatham, VA. The comments received and a response to the comments are located in Appendix C.
1 Terms in bold are defined in the glossary.