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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

BYRON SALVAGE YARD
(a/k/a BYRON JOHNSON)
BYRON, OGLE COUNTY, ILLINOIS


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

The attached tables list the contaminants of interest for this site. These contaminants will befurther evaluated to determine if they pose a threat to public health. The listing of a contaminantin the tables does not necessarily mean that the contaminant poses a threat to public health. Theselection of these contaminants is based on the following factors:

  1. The levels of contaminants on and off the site;
  2. Data quality in the field and in the laboratory, and the sampling plan design;
  3. Comparison of on-site contaminant concentrations and background concentrations with appropriate comparison values (Attachment 2) for carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic endpoints; and
  4. community health concerns.

A. On-site Contamination

Salvage Yard

Illinois EPA initiated clean up of the Salvage Yard in December 1986. This included:

  • excavation and removal of buried drums from the ravines;
  • removal of surface drums;
  • excavation and removal of soil heavily contaminated by heavy metals or VOCs;
  • excavation and removal of soil with cyanide concentrations greater than 100 ppm;
  • removal of miscellaneous surface debris; and
  • backfilling and regrading for erosion control.

In-situ sodium hypochlorite treatment for cyanide-contaminated soil was not successful, soadditional soil was removed.

Contamination remaining on the Salvage Yard was investigated during the USEPA-sponsoredPhase II RI (Table 1). The remaining levels of cyanide were found to be the most extensivecontaminant relative to total volume and area of soil. VOCs were found to be elevated in onlyone sample. The Salvage Yard contains an estimated 214,800 cubic yards of soil with levels ofVOCs, heavy metals, and cyanide elevated above background levels. Since the area has beenbackfilled with clean soil, USEPA stated that the remaining soil and sediment levels do notwarrant further soil removal [27].

Dirk's Farm

In 1974, three cattle on Dirk's Farm were suspected of dying from cyanide poisoning. Subsequently, CECo conducted remedial activities at the former Dirk's Farm, which included removal of barrels of cyanide and heavy metal wastes in November 1974, and in-situ sodium hypochlorite treatment of cyanide-contaminated soil in 1975. During the Phase II RI, USEPA investigated the remaining soil contamination and found significant levels of VOCs, heavy metals, and cyanide.

CECo investigated remaining contamination in 1990 and recommended that no further activitywas necessary. Because this area has a history of drummed liquids disposal, soil and drainagesediment contamination, and groundwater contamination, USEPA concluded that a RI/FS ofDirk's Farm was necessary. In April 1994, USEPA completed its final RI for Dirk's Farm, whichcharacterized the nature and extent of contamination on and around this property (Attachment 3).Maximum soil concentrations found from all Dirk's Farm investigations are shown in Table 2 (38).

Both the Galena-Platteville Dolomite (upper) and the St. Peter Sandstone (lower) aquifers contained elevated levels of VOCs, heavy metals, and cyanide (Attachment 4). The upper aquifer is more heavily contaminated. A comparison of sampling data from the Phase I RI and Phase II RI indicated that little change occurred during the 2-year interval between sample collections.

B. Off-site Contamination

The extent of the off-site contamination has been investigated by USEPA and Illinois EPA.Affected areas include the Motorsport Park, Acorn Road, Razorville Road, Rock River TerraceSubdivision, South River Road, Meyers Spring Pond, and other surface drainageways.

Reports indicate that liquid wastes from the Salvage Yard were spread on the Motorsport Parkdirt tracks for use as dust control. However, no investigation of the Motorsport Park has beenconducted to date, and no sampling has been performed to determine the extent of soilcontamination there. Sampling of Meyers Pond has been conducted. Since the pond is spring-fed,contaminated groundwater may continue to affect this surface water body.

Ravines within the Salvage Yard and former Dirk's Farm properties have carried pollutants intotributaries of Woodland Creek as a result of surface runoff. Studies have shown that sediment iscontaminated (Table 3) and that high concentrations of cyanide are in surface water runoff fromthe site. However, available information is inadequate to assess the effect of surface water runofffrom the former Dirk's Farm or the Salvage Yard on the water quality or possible fish contamination in the Rock River.

Periodic sampling by Illinois EPA, IDPH, and USEPA documented that contamination hasaffected private groundwater supplies of residences along Acorn Road, parts of Razorville Road,in Rock River Terrace Subdivision, and along South River Road. Samples from residential wellswere contaminated with VOCs, primarily TCE, as high as 710 ppb.

C. Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Available data are adequate to conduct a public health assessment at this site. During each phaseof the project, sampling techniques and chain of custody were in accordance with the QualityAssurance Project Plans (QAPPs). The Quality Control and Quality Assurance informationavailable for each phase was reviewed by USEPA, Illinois EPA, and IDPH and was judged to beadequate. Therefore, the data presented in the RIs are considered to be useful and of good quality.

D. Physical and Other Hazards

The Salvage Yard is surrounded by a 6-foot tall, chain-link fence. Access gates in the fence arechained. The fence is posted "Caution Keep Out -- Area Contaminated With IndustrialChemicals." Decaying structures and some debris are visible among the tall grass and trees on the Salvage Yard property. No known physical hazards are present on Dirk's Farm.

E. Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI)

Since the reporting of toxic chemical releases began in 1987, USEPA has collected informationon estimated annual releases of toxic chemicals by industry to the environment (air, water, land,or underground injection). These data are compiled and retrievable through the on-line database,Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI). These TRI records were reviewed for reporting industries in the vicinity of the site. No industries within a 3-mile radius reported releases of chemicals to the environment.


PATHWAYS ANALYSES

As a result of past waste handling and disposal practices, groundwater, soil, sediment, andintermittent surface water samples have been contaminated by VOCs, heavy metals, and cyanide.For the purpose of this public health assessment, exposure pathways reflect those remaining aftercontaminated soil was removed from the Salvage Yard, vegetative ground cover was established,and an alternative water supply was provided (Tables 4 & 5).

The Salvage Yard remedial activities of soil and waste removal, backfilling with clean soil, andthe establishment of vegetation have reduced the likelihood of direct soil contact and fugitivedust emissions. These cleanup activities have minimized exposure to contaminated Salvage Yardsoil. However, were the site to be developed at some future date, there is the possibility of humanexposure to contaminated soil. The Dirk's Farm remedial activities of soil and waste removalhave greatly reduced the levels of contaminants in the soil. The establishment of vegetation hasreduced the likelihood of fugitive dust emissions and direct exposure to contaminated soil.

Current information available concerning the surface waters of the Rock River and MeyersSpring Pond suggests no increased health risk associated with exposure to potentially-contaminated surface water or fish consumption.

The primary public health concern is the use of contaminated groundwater. All indoor and outdoor uses of contaminated well water expose the residents to organic and inorganic chemicals through ingestion, inhalation, and dermal absorption.

A. Completed Exposure Pathways

Groundwater

Groundwater contamination is widespread within the area of the site (37). In addition,groundwater is contaminated northeast and southwest of the site (Attachment 4). Within theprojected plume of contamination, residents still using their wells are likely exposed tocontaminated water from all indoor and outdoor uses of this water. Indoor exposure tocontaminated water includes ingestion, inhalation, and dermal exposure while drinking water,bathing and showering, washing dishes, and cooking with water. Outdoor exposures includeinhalation and dermal exposure routes while watering livestock, gardens, lawns, and washingcars. Residents using well water in swimming pools are exposed through inhalation, ingestion,and dermal contact.

Aquifer contamination has been identified through numerous samples collected fromgroundwater monitoring wells and residential wells (Table 6). Based on groundwater flowdirection and identified off-site groundwater contamination, all residents along Acorn andRazorville Roads in the Rock River Terrace Subdivision, and along South River Road are withinthe potential path of the groundwater contamination plume.

This area has two aquifers of concern, the Galena-Platteville Dolomite (upper) and the St. PeterSandstone (lower). Investigations of the Galena-Platteville Dolomite aquifer indicate the localgroundwater flow pattern in the aquifer is predominantly controlled by numerous fractures,faults, and spaces. These make contaminant concentrations at a specific point and depth awayfrom the site difficult to assess. The St. Peter Sandstone aquifer is hydraulically connected withthe Galena-Platteville Dolomite aquifer through fractures and faults. This hydraulic connectionmost likely allows contaminants to move from the upper aquifer into the lower aquifer.

The general groundwater flow direction in the vicinity of the Salvage Yard is northwest. Theprimary fracture and fault pattern also follows this trend. Groundwater also flows southwest andnorth-northeast due to a groundwater "ridge" underlying the Salvage Yard. A secondary fractureand fault pattern also runs in this southwest-northeast direction. The groundwater flow patternsof Dirk's Farm are primarily southwest toward the Rock River.

The city of Byron wells are deep wells on the opposite side of the Rock River, approximately 4miles north-northeast of the site. These wells are not in the anticipated pathway of thecontamination plume, and the river should act as a barrier to any groundwater contaminantsmigrating toward the city wells.

Surface Water Runoff

The Salvage Yard is in an upland area that slopes toward the northwest. Runoff from the site ischanneled through two ravines, the West and South Waterways, to the intermittently flowingSouth Branch of Woodland Creek, and eventually to the Rock River. Sampling of surface waterat Meyers Spring Pond (about 3/4 of a mile northwest of the Salvage Yard) has indicated thepresence of elevated levels of TCE and cyanide.

Historically, tank trucks were allowed to dump their contents directly onto the ground in the ravine waterways. Sampling of on-site sediment indicate contamination by VOCs, heavy metals, and cyanide.

Dirk's Farm is also in an upland area with runoff eventually draining to the Rock River. Most ofthe property drains from east to west, and the extreme northeast edge drains from south to north.Before CECo remedial activities, the drainageway sediment and ponded surface water werecontaminated with cyanide and heavy metals. Post-remedial sampling by CECo showeddrainageway sediment contamination with mercury and cyanide present at levels at least 10 timesabove the background sediment samples.

Low levels of site-related contaminants were detected at Meyers Spring. Exposure to thesecompounds by recreational users of these waters should be minimal.

B. Potential Exposure Pathways

The potential exposure pathways related to past activities at the site are associated with soil, sediment, ambient air, and contaminated consumable biota (fish, farm animals, and plants).

Soil and Sediment

Contaminated soil is confined primarily to the Salvage Yard and Dirk's Farm. Much of thecontaminated Salvage Yard soil has been removed and replaced with clean fill. Access to theSalvage Yard is currently limited to the owner and tenants of 10 acres of the Salvage Yard.Fugitive dust from the site is limited because most of the site is well vegetated. Should theSalvage Yard fence be removed and the site developed, routes of future soil exposure may include ingestion of and dermal contact with the remaining contaminated soil.

Access to Dirk's Farm is not restricted but is posted "no trespassing." CECo has kept this area well vegetated and leases only rights to mow hay from the property. CECo employees have access to the site for maintenance activities associated with the blowdown corridor.

Other possible exposure pathways include the sediment along the intermittent waterways and thedirt track and parking lot at the Motorsport Park. Illinois EPA files indicate that waste chemicals may have been used for dust control at the Motorsport Park. If this occurred and given the nature of motorcycle racing, some exposure to contaminated dust may be anticipated. Information is inadequate to assess chemical exposure from this soil.

Air

No evidence was found to indicate any present or potential exposure through air transmission. Except for dirt roads, both the Salvage Yard and Dirk's Farm are well vegetated. Fugitive dust would therefore be minimal, and it is unlikely that nearby residents would be exposed.

Ambient air monitoring occurred only during investigative and remedial activities to protect siteworkers. VOCs were not detected at levels greater than background. In October 1985, cyanidegas was detected at levels greater than 24 ppm during the drilling activities at two monitoringwell locations. Subsequent air monitoring near these locations confirmed that cyanide gasexposure may be possible during intrusive activities, and an appropriate supplemental Health andSafety Plan was developed to protect workers during remedial activities.

Consumable Biota

Some residents have continued to use contaminated well water for watering livestock, gardens,and lawns. Livestock may therefore be at risk from consuming this water. Uptake of thecontaminants by crops and livestock poses an additional source of exposure to the residents whoeat these animals and crops. No data exist on contaminant levels in these consumable biota.Uptake of the contaminants by wildlife may present an exposure pathway; however, the level of contaminants in hunted game would not be expected to be a health concern. Aquatic toxicity testing of samples from Meyers Spring demonstrated no toxicity.


PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

A. Toxicologic Evaluation

Table 6 lists the maximum concentrations of all site-related chemicals present in the affectedaquifers. The list was developed from laboratory results of samples taken from residential wellsand monitoring wells. Even though some of these chemicals exist at levels greater thancomparison values, the contaminants can only affect someone who is actually exposed and if theexposure results in high enough doses for adverse effects to occur. IDPH reviewed the scientificliterature, comparison values, and possible health effects associated with the contaminantsselected for evaluation (Table 7).

The potential for exposed persons to experience adverse health effects depends on:

  • the amount of each chemical to which a person is exposed,
  • how long a person is exposed, and
  • the health condition of the person exposed.

The following chemicals are present at elevated levels in the groundwater at and near the site. The levels listed in Table 7 are the maximum levels of chemicals ever detected in groundwater. It is unlikely that these maximum levels still exist, although persons may have been exposed in the past. Exposure for most people stopped when their residences were connected to the public water supply, but the potential for exposure still exists. Natural attenuation may have reduced the levels of contaminants in the groundwater, but levels greater than comparison values are still detected in areas of the known plumes.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

The VOCs of interest found in the groundwater are all chlorinated solvents. These chemicals arereadily absorbed when inhaled or ingested, but dermal absorption is poor. Acute and chronictoxicity targets, in both humans and animals, are primarily the central nervous system (CNS),liver, and kidneys. Acute effects on the CNS depend on the level of the chemical in the blood.

IDPH calculated estimated exposure doses for adults and children. For adults, the estimated dose of toluene exceeds the acute MRL. Also for adults, chronic MRLswere equal to or exceeded for exposure to trans-1,2-dichloroethylene and vinyl chloride. Forchildren, all MRLs are exceeded except for total 1,2-dichloroethylene.

Most studies available for review are based on animal studies. Evaluation of those studiessuggests that people drinking water with levels of the VOCs listed in Table 7 for a year or moreare at risk of damaging their livers and kidneys. CNS effects may be possible given the exposureto multiple chemicals and multiple routes, ingestion and inhalation, of exposure. Children, theelderly, and those with compromised immune systems are especially sensitive to the toxiceffects.

Animal studies suggest that long-term exposure to these chemicals may result in developmentaleffects to the fetus, reproductive effects, liver cancer, and leukemia. The current data recognizeonly vinyl chloride as a known human carcinogen (7)(8)(9). No information is available on vinylchloride to evaluate what the cancer risk may be for those who consume the level of vinylchloride found in the groundwater over a long period of time.

Arsenic

Arsenic is readily absorbed after ingestion but is not well absorbed through the skin. The mostcharacteristic effect of long-term ingestion of low levels of arsenic is a pattern of skin changes.This includes a darkening of the skin and the appearance of small "corns" or "warts" on thepalms, soles, and torso. While these skin changes are not considered to be a health concern intheir own right, a small number of the corns may develop into skin cancer. A low increased riskof cancer may exist as a result of drinking groundwater contaminated with arsenic.

The average diet contains low levels of arsenic (10 to 50 ppb). Animal studies indicate that smallamounts of arsenic in the diet may be beneficial to health. Animals fed diets without arsenic didnot gain weight normally and became pregnant less frequently. The offspring from these animalstend to be smaller than normal and die at an early age (1).

The estimated dose that someone who drinks the level of arsenic presented in Table 7 would have exceeds the MRL for both adults and children. The levels that would be consumed by children approach the Lowest Observed Adverse Effects Level (LOAEL) for humans for some cardiovascular diseases. Estimated doses for adults drinking 170 micrograms per liter (µg/L) arsenic in their water would not exceed any of the LOAELs observed in humans. Children should not drink any water containing the level of arsenic found in groundwater in the area for extended periods of time, and adults should avoid drinking the arsenic in the water if possible.

Cadmium

Cadmium is a heavy metal that bioaccumulates, particularly in the kidney and liver.Epidemiologic studies have revealed long-term ingestion of low levels of cadmium can result inthe accumulation of toxic levels. Drinking water that is contaminated with cadmium mayincrease cadmium levels in the body and cause adverse health effects such as high bloodpressure, anemia, liver disease, and nerve damage (2).

The estimated doses for adults and children who could consume 45 µg/L cadmium in theirdrinking water exceed the MRL. However, the estimated doses are far below LOAELs for humanexposure. Therefore, if someone did consume water containing that level of cadmium for a shortperiod of time, adverse health effects related to the cadmium exposure would not be expected.However, children experiencing chronic exposure to that level may be at risk of developing somerenal effects.

Chromium

Chromium occurs in a number of chemical forms. The most common forms are trivalent (Cr-III)and hexavalent (Cr-VI). The laboratory analyses did not distinguish Cr-III from Cr-VI.

Cr-III is believed to be an essential nutrient found in many foods. Cr-VI is considered toxic by allroutes of exposure given sufficient time of exposure and concentration. If sufficient Cr-VI waspresent in drinking water it can cause health effects including stomach upsets, ulcers, and liverand kidney damage (3).

The estimated doses for adults and children who consume 126 µg/L total chromium in theirwater would exceed the MRL. However, the estimated doses are less than LOAELs. No adversehealth effects would be expected to result from consumption of that level of total chromium.However, unless the chromium is shown to be primarily Cr-III, the estimated dose for childrenapproaches levels that have been shown to enhance dermititis in humans, and children should notdrink that level for extended periods of time.

Cyanide

Cyanide is readily absorbed and can cause adverse health effects through ingestion and dermalcontact with cyanide-contaminated groundwater. Once absorbed, cyanide inhibits a number ofenzymes, which results in the inability of tissues to use oxygen. Exposure to lower levels ofcyanide for a long period may result in breathing difficulties, chest pains, vomiting, headaches,and thyroid gland enlargement. Cyanide has not been associated with carcinogenic effects in animals or humans (4).

The estimated doses for adults and children who consume 1,532 µg/L cyanide in their waterexceed the MRL. The dose for adults is below LOAELs for humans. The dose for children is alsobelow LOAELs, but a child's dose is approaching a dose associated with death in someindividuals. Therefore, no one should drink water containing that level of cyanide even for short periods of time.

Lead

Once lead enters the body through ingestion, it is persistent and accumulative. Long-termexposure to lead can produce damage to the nervous system, reproductive system, kidneys,blood-forming system, and digestive system. Exposure to lead is more dangerous for young andunborn children resulting in decreased mental abilities and learning difficulties.

No studies have been done to determine what levels of lead in drinking water can result in an increase in blood lead levels. For that reason, all exposure to lead should be avoided when possible.

B. Health Outcome Data Evaluation

No state or local health outcome data have been reviewed for this public health assessment. Thepopulation involved is too small for evaluation through state cancer, mortality, and adversepregnancy outcome registries. Members of the community near the Salvage Yard are participating in ATSDR's TCE Exposure Subregistry and are being contacted at yearly intervals concerning their health status.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

USEPA and Illinois EPA conducted interviews with local officials and residents duringNovember 1990 to assess site-related concerns and interest. USEPA addressed these concerns intheir community relations plan for this site. Other public meetings and discussions with thecommunity over the years also have been a source for collecting community health concerns.

This public health assessment was issued for public comment in 1995. Since that time, theconclusions of this document have not changed, but information has been updated to reflect thecurrent conditions at the site. IDPH summarizes and addresses each of the community concerns as follows.

  1. The Byron Fire Protection District and local residents have expressed concern thatrefuse and decaying structures remain on the Salvage Yard property. People would liketo see all refuse and salvaged materials removed from the property.

    USEPA and Illinois EPA have stated that physical hazard remediation does not fall into the realm of Superfund hazardous waste remediation. The physical hazards on the Salvage Yard property may remain.

  2. Residents and officials are concerned about the fractured-flow within the aquifers andwant more information to help their understanding of groundwater flow direction. Moreinformation was requested for a better understanding of when a particular well might beaffected.

    Groundwater monitoring data continue to be collected and evaluated for the protection ofpublic health. The sampling data collected have shown that the location and level ofgroundwater contamination within the plume is unpredictable, probably the result of thefractured-flow. The fact that the sources of the contamination have been removed meansthat aquifers are not likely to become more contaminated. What is already in the aquiferswill be very difficult to clean up. Only monitoring private wells in the area can ensurethat contamination is found before people are exposed to contaminants at levels and timeperiods associated with adverse health effects. The local health department is aware ofcontamination of the local aquifer and carefully reviews all new well drilling requests forproximity to known and projected areas of groundwater contamination. All drillingrequests within the contaminated plume boundaries should be denied.

  3. Persons who are now using public water are concerned about the health risks of the lowlevels of radium in the public water.

    IDPH compared the health risks of drinking public water with low levels of radium to thehealth risks of drinking private water near the site contaminated with organic solvents. InOctober 1994, IDPH released a health consultation stating that health risks from usingcontaminated private water were about 10 times greater than that of using public water.The level of radium in the public water is less than the MCL.

  4. Individuals have expressed concern regarding the risk of hunting on Dirk's Farm andeating deer that graze and drink water on the property.

    Although cattle on Dirk's Farm died of suspected cyanide poisoning in 1974, remedialactivities of soil removal on the Salvage Yard and Dirk's Farm properties have adequatelyreduced the risk of poisoning to animals. The health risk from hunting and consumingwildlife is minimal.

  5. Residents have had questions about the continued use of private wells. Washing cars andwatering lawns, gardens, and livestock were cited as reasons for keeping the wells open.Particular concern was expressed over the quantity of water needed and cost of theseactivities if the wells are sealed.

    The exposure to contaminants from uses such as watering livestock, gardens, and lawnsand other outdoor water uses is much less when compared to consumption and indoor useof contaminated water. IDPH recommends that all remaining wells within the projectedplume path be monitored regularly. IDPH will notify residents if chemicals are detectedin the water at levels of health concern.

  6. County officials have been concerned about the future use of Salvage Yard property.They were particularly concerned about the cost and responsibility for monitoring activities and cap maintenance.

    Should development of the Salvage Yard take place, contaminated soil may beencountered by workers. Dermatitis is the most likely adverse health effect from exposureto contaminated soil. Under no circumstances should wells be drilled at the site. IDPHdoes not assign responsibility for monitoring activities and does not consider costs relatedto such activities. Those decisions rest with the environmental agencies. However, IDPHdoes provide the environmental agencies with information on health issues so that the agencies can make better informed decisions.

  7. Questions have been raised about health risks related to the property development of the Meyers Spring area.

    Low levels of site-related contaminants have been detected at Meyers Spring. Exposure tothese compounds by recreational users of these waters should be minimal. Since MeyersSpring is within the contaminant plume and the level of groundwater contaminationwithin the plume is unpredictable, this water should not be used as a source of drinking water.


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