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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
ACME SOLVENT RECLAIMING, INC.
WINNEBAGO, WINNEBAGO COUNTY, ILLINOIS


SUMMARY

Acme Solvent Reclaiming, Inc. (ACME), covers approximately 20 acres 5 miles south ofRockford on Lindenwood Road in Winnebago County. This site operated from 1960 to 1973 as adrum storage and waste disposal site for ACME's operations on 18th Avenue in Rockford. Thewastes disposed on-site included paints, oils, still-bottoms, sludges, and non-recoverable solvents. Disposal practices resulted in soils contaminated with numerous inorganic and organiccompounds including metals, volatiles, semi-volatiles, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Inaddition to the soil contamination, a contaminant plume migrating south-southwest has beenidentified in groundwater beneath and around the ACME site. In 1982, the site was proposed forplacement on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) National Priorities List (NPL). The site was placed on the NPL in September 1985.

The site is located in an area of very sparse population with land use primarily residential,recreational, and agricultural. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have contaminated nearbyprivate wells above levels of concern. In 1981, a new well was drilled to replace two of thecontaminated wells and since 1987 the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) have maintainedwhole-house carbon filters in three homes. Although sampling data assembled since 1981 showsthat the contaminant levels in the pre-treated well water have decreased to levels which arecurrently below public health concern for all contaminants except vinyl chloride, 1,1-dichloroethylene, chrysene, and benzo(a)anthracene, site-related contaminants have also appearedin wells not previously showing contamination. Soil remediation has now removed most of thecontaminated soils.

Based on available information, this site is considered to be a public health hazard because of therisk to human health resulting from past, present, and potential future exposure to groundwatercontaminated with various inorganic and organic compounds, including metals, volatiles, semi-volatiles, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), at concentrations that may result in an increasedrisk of adverse health effects. Area residents have expressed concerns about the long-term healtheffects from exposure to these compounds in groundwater, as well as a general concern about theimpact of ACME operations on local groundwater quality. As residences are connected to apublic water supply and remediation activities continue to be implemented, the potential for futureexposure to these contaminants will be diminished. Pending completion of planned remedialactions, the potential for future risk to public health will need to be re-evaluated.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has evaluated the data and information on theACME site for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. Because human exposureto site contaminants may be occurring at levels of public health concern, the site is included in theAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Trichloroethylene (TCE) Registry. As part of the ATSDR Physician Education Cooperative Agreement, IDPH conducted aworkshop in April, 1991 to inform area health professionals of the public health implicationsassociated with this site and others in the area.

BACKGROUND

A. Site Description And History

Acme Solvent Reclaiming, Inc. (ACME) is an abandoned industrial waste disposal site locatedapproximately 2 miles southeast of Morristown and about 5 miles south of Rockford onLindenwood Road near the southern edge of Winnebago County, Illinois (Figure 1). TheLindenwood Road location was a drum storage and waste disposal site for ACME's distillationfacility located in Rockford, Illinois. The ACME site covers approximately 20 acres, however,only 2 to 4 acres were actually used for disposal activities. The site began operation in 1960 andoperated until 1973 (8). In 1985 the site was place on the United States EnvironmentalProtection Agency's (USEPA) National Priorities List (NPL).

ACME's operation consisted of reclaiming spent solvents through distillation processes. Thedistillation and subsequent reclamation took place at ACME's main facility located within the cityof Rockford. The recycled solvents were returned to the generating parties while the waste wastransported to the Lindenwood Road location for disposal. According to the IllinoisEnvironmental Protection Agency (IEPA) records, ACME, during its peak operation period, wasprocessing approximately 3,000 gallons of solvent per day and producing 450 to 600 gallons ofwaste. The solvent waste was shipped in drums to the Lindenwood Road storage/disposal site. The full drums were stockpiled in one of several drum storage locations, or the contents of thedrums were emptied into one of the lagoons. In 1972, the IEPA reported seven lagoons locatedon-site, however, it appeared that only four were actually used for the disposal of wastes (14). The total quantity of waste deposited at the ACME site during its 13 years of operation isunknown.

The ACME site was first inspected by the IEPA in 1972. Prior to this inspection, ACME hadnever been licensed by the State for the disposal of industrial hazardous waste. During these earlyinspections, IEPA officials noted numerous environmental violations. These violations includedcontaminant discharge to open areas, open burning of refuse, and landfilling of hazardous wasteswithout a permit. As a result of the IEPA inspections in 1972, the Illinois Pollution ControlBoard (IPCB) ordered ACME to remove all drums and liquids from the site, excavate thecontaminated soil from the lagoons, and dispose of the contaminated materials at a licensedhazardous waste landfill. Subsequent inspections by IEPA personnel in 1973 determined thatACME was not complying with the remediation measures ordered by the IPCB. Specifically, thelagoon contents were not removed, but rather, they were covered with clean soil from other areasof the site. In addition, drums were being crushed and buried on-site instead of being removed toan off-site location. The ACME site was officially closed by the State of Illinois on April 9, 1973(14).

In 1981, the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) discovered organic chemicalcontamination in five private wells located near the ACME site (21). These wells werecontaminated with varying levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including 1,1-dichloroethane, 1,2-dichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and trichloroethylene (TCE). Of the five contaminated wells, two were private residential wells located south of the ACME siteon Lindenwood Road, two were owned by Pagel's Pit Landfill (an active municipal waste landfilllocated directly west of ACME), and the fifth well serviced a skeet shooting club on LindenwoodRoad. Whole-house carbon filter well water treatment units were eventually provided in February1987.

In 1985, a Remedial Investigation (RI) of the ACME site was completed by the E.C. JordanCompany under contract with IEPA. Results of the RI showed that the soil on-site wascontaminated with numerous inorganic and organic compounds including metals, aromatic andchlorinated hydrocarbons, semi-volatile esters and ethers, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In addition, VOCs were detected in on-site groundwater monitoring wells. The contaminantplume was found to be moving south-southwest from the site with the flow of groundwater. VOC contamination was also discovered in three additional residential wells located south of thesite on Lindenwood Road. The RI estimated that the site contained approximately 40,000 tons ofcontaminated sludge/soil waste (8).

In 1986, members of the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) organized for purposes ofvoluntarily conducting the site remediation. The PRPs contracted the environmental engineeringfirm of Harding Lawson Associates to design and implement a plan for the removal of on-sitecontaminated soils. The remedial activities began in August of 1986 and ended in December of1986. Approximately 40,000 tons of contaminated soils were removed and transported off-site toone of two licensed hazardous waste landfills. Approximately 6,800 tons of PCB contaminatedsoils were removed and transported to a licensed hazardous waste landfill in Alabama while theremainder of the contaminated soils were sent to a licensed landfill in Indiana. According to aremediation activities progress report submitted to USEPA in 1986 by Harding LawsonAssociates, the contamination was confined to seven or eight mounded areas on-site. Contaminated soils from these mounds were excavated and transported off-site. After excavationof a mound and prior to backfilling with clean soil, the sidewalls were sampled to verify that all ofthe contaminated soil had been removed. The cleanup activities concluded in December of 1986,and at that time, it was estimated that as little as 10 percent of the original contamination stillremained on-site. The remaining contamination was estimated to include 4,000 tons ofcontaminated sludge/soil and two tanks containing sludge wastes. The remedial activitiesundertaken by the PRPs were conducted without the consultation or supervision of the IEPA orUSEPA and in disregard to a Record of Decision (ROD) calling for on-site incineration ofcontaminated material as the remedy.

In February of 1987, as a condition of a December 1986 Consent Order signed by IEPA, USEPA,and 23 PRPs, the PRPs installed whole-house carbon filters in the five homes with wellscontaminated with VOCs. The locations of these homes are shown on Figure 4. To date, twofilter systems have been taken out of service because the homes are unoccupied, and the PRPscontinue to maintain the filter systems in the other three homes.

Since the PRPs did not supply enough documented information to the IEPA or the USEPA toverify the effectiveness of the remediation, in 1986 the USEPA ordered that a SupplementalTechnical Investigation/Endangerment Assessment be performed to assess the extent and thepotential or actual hazard to public health of the remaining on-site contamination. HardingLawson Associates conducted the Supplemental Technical Investigation between 1987 and 1989. Included in this investigation were detailed studies of the extent of contamination in groundwater,surface water, and soils. The results of the study were consistent with findings of earlier studies. The groundwater continued to show contamination with VOCs. The area of greatest VOCcontamination is at the southern edge of the site near monitoring well B4. The groundwatercontamination is confined to the upper bedrock (Galena-Platteville Dolomite) aquifer and has notmigrated to the underlying St. Peter Sandstone aquifer. In addition to VOCs, the concentration ofmetals in groundwater samples collected from downgradient monitoring wells were generallyhigher than the levels reported in background wells.

A ROD was signed by the USEPA in December of 1990 with IEPA concurrence (19). TheRemedial Design/Remedial Activities Work Plan, Sampling Plan, Pre-Design Studies Plan, andSite Access/Site Permitting Plan for the site was submitted by Harding Lawson Associates toIEPA in March of 1992. Copies of these documents were also submitted to the USEPA. Theobjectives of these remedial action activities were to identify and remediate remainingcontaminated soil and/or sludge, bedrock gas, and groundwater; remediate tank contents by off-site incineration and dispose tanks; provide an alternate water supply; install fence aroundperimeter of ACME property; construct multimedia cap; control air emissions; and implementdeed and access restrictions.

B. Site Visit

Representatives of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) have made several site visitsduring the past few years as part of the ongoing groundwater contamination investigation. TheACME site is approximately three quarters of a mile south of Baxter Road on Lindenwood Roadin a heavily wooded area with farmland to the east and south. There is a locked gate at the siteentrance, and a barbed wire fence surrounds the site. However, the site is easily accessible byfoot. The site surface soils are currently covered with a heavy growth of vegetation.

The site is bordered to the north by an active rock quarry owned and operated by RockfordBlacktop. Directly west of ACME, across Lindenwood Road, is the Pagel's Pit Landfill, an activelandfill used for the disposal of municipal wastes from Winnebago County. This particular landfillis an old rock quarry that was lined with asphalt prior to its beginning operation as a landfill. Organic chemical contamination and elevated arsenic levels were discovered in groundwatermonitoring wells surrounding Pagel's Pit, and subsequently, in 1987 the landfill was placed on theUSEPA NPL. A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study for this site was completed in March1991 and can be reviewed at the local repository for Pagel's Pit.

The most recent site visit by IDPH was on August 19, 1994. The entrance gate was open at thetime of this visit. It was also noted that the south portion of the site fence, approximately 200 feeteast of Lindenwood Road, had been removed. A parking area and small asphalt lined lagoon hadbeen constructed and two work trailers had been moved into this area. A second work area,approximately a quarter mile east of Lindenwood Road, contained: several work trailers, heavymachinery, a decontamination area, water treatment facilities, and a number of support trailers andother equipment. At the time of this visit, Westinghouse, the USEPA general contractor for thesoil remediation project, was in the process of moving some of their equipment from the site.

The work area (nearest Lindenwood Road and currently under construction) is for thegroundwater remediation project. The general contractor for this project is EnvironmentalContractors of Illinois (ECI). There were no ECI personnel on the site during this visit.

A large well and storage tank were observed on the southwest corner of Baxter and LindenwoodRoads. This well serves the residents along Lindenwood Road south of Baxter Road up toPagel's Pit (another nearby NPL hazardous waste site). Currently, the water line is beingextended south to serve the residents between Pagel's Pit and Edson Road.

C. Demographics, Land Use, And Natural Resource Use

The ACME site is located in a very sparsely populated, rural section of southern WinnebagoCounty. Land use in the area is primarily residential, recreational, and agricultural. The primarycrops grown in this area are corn and soybeans.

Approximately 24 homes are located within a 1/2-mile radius around the site. The distance fromthe site boundary to the nearest home is approximately one-quarter of a mile. The total residentialpopulation is estimated to be between 60-70 people, with middle class, caucasian families makingup the majority of the population. However, at least two of the homes are owned by oldercouples. Approximately 400 people live within 2 miles of the site.

The homes in the area rely on private wells for their water supply. In February of 1987, the PRPsinstalled whole-house carbon filters in the five homes with wells contaminated with VOCs. Thelocations of these homes are shown on Figure 4. To date, two filter systems have been taken outof service because the homes are unoccupied, and the PRPs continue to maintain the filter systemsin the other three homes.

An intermittent stream runs across and to the south of the site. The stream is a tributary toKillbuck Creek, which drains to the Kishwaukee River, then the Rock River. With the exceptionof the Rock River, surface waters downstream of the site are not used for public water supply. Killbuck Creek runs north to south, passing within 1 mile of the ACME site boundary. The Creekis shallow and impassible to boating in the vicinity of the site. However, the Killbuck Creek isused for sport fishing further downstream. The Creek is not used as a source of water forlivestock or irrigation of agricultural fields. Access to the Creek is generally limited. However,the Trailside Forest Preserve, a local area for recreation, is located approximately 2 milesnorthwest of ACME along the Killbuck Creek.

The ACME site is located in the Rock River Hill Country of the Till Plains Section of the CentralLowland Physiographic Province. This area is characterized by broad, rolling uplands exhibiting10 to 200 feet of relief, and is drained by the southwest flowing Rock River and its tributaries. Soils in the area are part of the Hononegah series. These soils are the result of glacial depositionand are described as dark brown, loamy, course sands with a characteristically high permeability. These soils are of neutral to medium acidity and have a low organic matter content.

The ACME site is located in an area of relatively shallow and exposed bedrock. E.C. Jordan(1985) reports that this bedrock, the Galena-Platteville Dolomite, is deeply weathered, and whereexposed, extremely fractured. Test borings done during their 1984 RI showed that the deeperdolomites exhibited the same characteristics, weathered and highly fractured. The bedrock on-siteis overlain by gravelly sands. A diagram showing the distribution of soils on and around ACME,along with the potential infiltration rate of those soils, is shown on Figure 2.

Groundwater in the area is contained in four geological formations, the overlaying soils, theGalena-Platteville Dolomite, the Glenwood-St. Peter Sandstone, and the deeper Mt. SimonSandstone. The Galena-Platteville formation is the primary source of water for residential wells inthe area. The underlying Glenwood-St. Peter and Mt. Simon formations provide sources of waterfor higher yielding irrigation and municipal wells. According to the Jordan RI, groundwater flowat the ACME site is generally east to west (Figure 2). However, localized groundwater moundingon-site creates steep vertical and north-south flow components near the ACME site. KillbuckCreek receives some discharge from the shallow aquifer, however, it appears that the primaryflow pattern is horizontal, beneath the creek.

The annual precipitation rate in the area is approximately 38 inches, two-thirds of which occurs inthe spring and summer months. The prevailing winds are from the west to northwest.

D. Health Outcome Data

Based on the evaluations performed as part of this health assessment, it is known that humanshave been exposed to site-related contaminants. In addition, community health concerns relatedto the site have been reported. In response to the contamination and concerns, members of theACME area community are participating in ATSDR's TCE Exposure Registry and are beingcontacted at yearly intervals concerning their health status. Future health assessments that areprepared for the site will include an evaluation of this health outcome data.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

In 1981, residents in the area filed complaints with WCHD and regional offices of the IEPA andIDPH which expressed concern over the affect of both ACME and the Pagel's Pit Landfill on localgroundwater quality. In particular, those residents whose wells are contaminated with VOCs areconcerned about the long-term health effects from exposure to these compounds in groundwater.


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