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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

CASSWOOD TREATED PRODUCTS
BEARDSTOWN, CASS COUNTY, ILLINOIS


SUMMARY

The Casswood Treated Products site in Cass County, is approximately 1 mile southeast of Beardstown, Illinois. From the 1950s to 1985, Casswood Treated Products operated as a wood treatment plant. The primary chemicals used for wood treatment were pentachlorophenol (PCP) mixed with diesel fuel and chromated-copper-arsenate and a fire retardant. The site contained various buildings for treating and drying the wood. It also contained aboveground and belowground storage tanks and an unlined wastewater (PCP) lagoon.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has determined that the Casswood Treated Products site currently poses no apparent public health hazard; however, some potential exposure pathways, especially regarding trespassers and area private well users, need further investigation to conclusively categorize the site. Numerous sampling investigations conducted over the past 10 years indicate that site soils and groundwater are contaminated. Data gaps exist, making evaluation of possible exposures to contaminants difficult. Private water supplies in the area have not been sampled and could be contaminated with site-related contaminants. The groundwater treatment system that was installed has reduced the potential for contaminants to migrate to the Beardstown municipal water well field and possibly to private wells. Continuous monitoring of the well field further reduces the chance of exposure through the public water supply. Trespassers and area workers who travel across the site or disturb the soil at the site have been and are at risk of exposure to site contaminants. Private wells and residential soils should be better characterized for site-related contamination. Site access should be restricted to reduce future exposures.

Community members have expressed concern about accessibility to the site. Although concerns about groundwater contamination have substantially decreased with installation of the groundwater treatment system, a citizens group was formed in 1994 to address area environmental issues. The group focused its concern on a non-site-related incinerator and cited the possibility of groundwater flow alteration at sites, including Casswood. The incinerator would require a high-volume well that could influence groundwater flow direction if the well is pumped at a sufficiently high rate over a period of time.


BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

The Casswood Treated Products site is in the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 24, Township 18 North, Range 12 West, of the Third Principal Meridian, Cass County, Illinois. This 6.2-acre site is south of Illinois Route 125 and approximately 1 mile southeast of Beardstown. (Figure 1) (AWE, 1990).

The site is irregular in shape and is surrounded by industrial and agricultural properties. The former Pennington Crossarms and Kent Feed facility borders the west side of the site, the former Bohn Aluminum (an aluminum air conditioner manufacturer) borders the north side, farmland borders the northwest, Rich's Lumber Company borders the north and east sides, EXCEL Corporation (formerly Oscar Mayer) borders the southwest, and Illinois Forest Products borders the southeast side. Burlington Northern Rail Lines is west of the site. An abandoned B & O Railroad track parallels the site's northeastern boundary (AWE, 1990).

In the late 1940s, the property on which the Casswood site is located was vacant land. In the early 1950s, Cass Industries occupied the site and began wood-treating plant operations. Also, in the 1950s, Pennington Crossarms began operations on the property west of the Casswood site. Pennington Crossarms obtained treated wood from the Casswood treating plant to build crossarms for power poles and for other uses. The treating plant closed in February 1985. Osmose Wood Preserving, Inc., (Osmose) acquired the Casswood site and treating plant in 1985 and the Pennington Crossarms property in 1990 (AWE, 1990).

The Casswood Treated Products facility consisted of the following features: treating building, boiler building, drying building, concrete storage areas, seven aboveground storage tanks, and an unlined, filled-in wastewater (pentachlorophenol) lagoon (Mathes, 1986). The primary treating chemicals used from 1950 to 1970 were pentachlorophenol (PCP) (5% to 10%) mixed with diesel fuel (90% to 95%). The facility discontinued the use of PCP and began using a solution of chromated-copper-arsenate (CCA) with a fire retardant until 1985, when operations ceased (WCC, 1991a). Operations included untreated wood storage, drying, pressure treatment, and treated wood storage. Two pressure vacuum vessels were used at the Casswood facility (WCC, 1992).

On January 29, 1985, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) first inspected the site. IEPA conducted a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) soil sampling inspection on February 22, 1985. On May 5, 1986, IEPA issued a record of decision (ROD). In June 1986, IEPA contracted with John Mathes & Associates, Inc., (Mathes) to start work on the remedial investigation (RI). Mathes conducted site investigations that included a geophysical survey, soil sampling, and tank and building sampling. On December 15, 1986, Mathes completed their site investigation report for Casswood Treated Products. Osmose later told IEPA that they wanted to take over the RI work. In October 1987, Osmose contracted with Ott Engineering, Inc., (Ott) to perform data collection for the RI effort. In June and August 1988, Ott installed groundwater monitoring wells and collected water and soil samples. In September 1988, Ott contracted with PDC Response, Inc., to clean out and remove seven tanks on the Casswood site. In November 1988, two water samples were collected from Beardstown's water supply wells to check for migration of site contaminants to the wells. No contaminants were detected at that time. In March 1989, Ott installed additional downgradient monitoring wells and sampled soils and 21 monitoring wells for chemical analyses. Site contaminants, which are discussed in this report, were found in some of these samples. Ott also conducted soil sampling at the buried pentachlorophenol pit and "seep" areas to determine contaminant levels. In October 1989, Ott installed four groundwater "withdrawal" wells and two "injection" wells as a groundwater treatment system (AWE, 1990). A remedial investigation report was completed in May 1990 by Air, Water, Environment. In 1993 the buildings were demolished and removed.

B. Site Visit

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and IEPA visited the site on April 3, 1995, and IDPH visited the site again on February 21, 1996. No major changes or differences were found at the site on the second visit. The site is easily accessible. No security is in place, and site access was not physically restricted. The water treatment site manager reported seeing unauthorized people on the site numerous times. Vehicles can enter the site from the north or from the east. A dirt path runs from Arenzville Road through Illinois Forest Products and Rich's Lumber onto the Casswood site. The condition of the dirt path suggests that it is often used.

The water treatment plant is west of the site on the former Pennington property. The door to the facility contains the name and telephone number of McLaren/Hart Environmental Engineering Corporation. Two signs on the property state, "Keep Out - Chemical Hazard -, Authorized Personnel Only Beyond This Point." Patches of weeds grow over the site grounds. The surface soil is comprised of sand. The paths used for roads are very evident, bare, and contain fresh vehicle tracks that indicate heavy and recent use. IDPH noted piles of black slag material around the former lagoon area. IDPH saw two large tarp-covered Browning Ferris Industries (BFI) dumpsters by the former lagoon area. One was full of sand material. Numerous concrete pads remain where buildings were once located. IDPH found one very large cylindrical tank with a 3- by 3-foot hole cut into its side. Approximately 50 drums were on a concrete pad. IDPH saw a pile of burnt lumber, Christmas trees, and other refuse on the former Pennington property adjacent to the Casswood property. Truck paths to this debris pile run through the Casswood property. IDPH watched a truck traveling across the property during the site visit.

The closest residence (800 feet north) uses city water, and residents of homes east of Arenzville Road use private water supplies. According to one resident, the homes that have private water supplies include a small subdivision located 2,500 feet northeast of the site.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The center of Beardstown is along the Illinois River and is approximately 1.5 miles northwest of the site. Beardstown has a population of 5,270 people (1990 Census data). Four deep municipal water supply wells are approximately 3,800 feet northwest of the site and provide drinking water to the city of Beardstown and adjacent areas. These wells are screened from 60 to 80 feet below the ground surface. A small residential subdivision about 2,500 feet northeast of the site uses private wells for drinking water needs. This subdivision contains four to five homes. Approximately 40 residential and 28 commercial wells are within 2 miles of the site (ISWS, 1997). These wells may not all be active. One private well is downgradient of the site. No other private wells are known to be downgradient of the site. A gas station, a motel, and five to six residences are about 1,000 feet north of the site and use city water supplies. No homes are directly adjacent to the site. The closest residence to the site is approximately 800 feet north, and residents use city water supplies. Beardstown High School is within 1 mile of the site. The number of persons living within 1 mile of the site, along with other demographic data, is detailed in Figure 2.

The site topography is generally flat; land surface slopes east and north slightly upward. Low-lying land and marshy areas are northwest of the Casswood facility (WCC, 1991a).

The Casswood site is on a low-level river terrace along the eastern floodplain of the Illinois River. The site is underlain by approximately 15 feet of Eolian sands, which are present at the ground surface in most areas of the site. Beneath the Eolian sands is a thick deposit (up to 100 feet in the Beardstown area) of river alluvium consisting of fine sands to coarse gravels. No surface water bodies are on the Casswood site. A drainage ditch is approximately 600 feet west-northwest of the northwest boundary of the site. The ditch receives the wastewater discharge from the groundwater treatment system. The ditch flows west, then north under State Route 125 into Hard Road Park pond on the north side of Route 125. This pond is used for recreational purposes (fishing). The Illinois River is approximately 2.5 miles northwest of the Casswood site. Storm water on the site is not expected to discharge to any open water body because of the sandy character of the surface soils and the lack of drainage features at the site. Therefore, precipitation at the site infiltrates rapidly into the groundwater or evaporates into the atmosphere (AWE, 1990).

A large undeveloped aquifer is beneath the Casswood site. The total saturated thickness of the aquifer is approximately 80 feet. The water table is encountered at depths of less than 4 feet to more than 13 feet, depending on the ground surface elevation. The groundwater flows through the site southeast to northwest toward the Beardstown well field. Regional groundwater flow is generally east to west; however, the pumping stresses caused by the municipal well field have modified groundwater flow (WCC, 1991a).

Two large ponds operated by the EXCEL Corporation are southwest of the Casswood facility. The ponds discharge into drainage ditches that run parallel to the ponds. These ditches trend southwest to northeast near Kent Feed, and then combine to form one ditch at the old Burlington Northern track near Bohn Aluminum. This ditch then trends northwest across farmland and under Route 125. Water that intermittently flows in this ditch is related to discharges from the EXCEL ponds or from the EXCEL spray evaporation fields (WCC, 1991a).

D. Health Outcome Data

The state of Illinois maintains databases for cancer and birth defects. These data are organized according to ZIP Code and can be used to compare incidence rates of cancer and birth defects in specific site ZIP Codes to the state incidence rates as a whole or to the incidence rates of a control group. Such a comparison is made if (1) exposure to a chemical is occurring at levels that may cause an adverse health effect, (2) the adverse health effect is recorded on one of the state databases, and (3) many people in a given ZIP Code are exposed. A comparison is also made if the community is concerned that a disease rate is elevated and the three stated conditions exist. Additional information is provided in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation section of the public health assessment.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Economic issues were the main site-related concern in 1990. The Beardstown economic development director wanted to market the Bohn Aluminum plant and wanted the whole area cleaned up so new businesses could open. Between 1990 and 1992, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency produced fact sheets and conducted a public meeting to inform citizens of the impending National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit issued to the Casswood site for the water treatment plant.

Residents expressed concerns about possible groundwater contamination of the municipal wells, but the concerns apperaed to wane after the water treatment system was put into action. Other people were concerned about site accessibility and the hazards to trespassers.

In 1994, a citizens action group, the Beardstown Area Citizens for a Better Environment, was formed to address environmental issues in the area. The focus of the group was a proposed incinerator that was not directly associated with the Casswood site. The incinerator would require a high-volume well, and the group expressed concern that groundwater flow in the area, including the Casswood site area, would change because of the pumping rate of the well.


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