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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

ILADA ENERGY COMPANY
EAST CAPE GIRARDEAU, ALEXANDER COUNTY, ILLINOIS


SUMMARY

The Ilada Energy Company site was an abandoned tank farm that had approximately 12 million gallons of tank storage capacity containing about 1.5 million gallons of oil, sludge, and water, some of which contained a variety of contaminants including metals, solvents, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The 20.3 acre site is located in Alexander County, Illinois, on the floodplain of the Mississippi River within 1,000 feet of the River. All materials, structures, pipelines, and grossly contaminated soil were removed under a 106 Order Removal Action authorized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The removal action was completed in March 1991. Access to the site is restricted by a 7-foot high, gated, perimeter fence. In addition to the perimeter fence, other remnants of the original tank farm include a water well and berms that were around former tank areas. Remaining low levels of contamination including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and metals have been identified in soils and groundwater at the site. A layer of a petroleum product floating on the groundwater was also discovered in one of the monitoring wells on-site. Preliminary results indicate the layer is localized and immobile, however, the thickness of the layer in the ground is not yet known.

Immediately adjacent to the site are agricultural fields along the eastern and western boundaries, the Mississippi River levee along the southern boundary, and a gravel county road along the northern boundary. The area surrounding the site is very rural with a population of approximately 130 residents located within a 2-mile radius of the site. The nearest occupied farmhouse is 1,500 feet northwest of the site boundary.

Groundwater is the main source of drinking water for the population surrounding the site. Sampling of two residential wells located nearest to the site identified low levels of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) and heptachlor epoxide, a breakdown product of the insecticide, heptachlor. A domestic well in the village of Gale, located approximately 1 mile southeast of the site, was sampled as a representative of local background groundwater quality in the site area. However, slightly elevated levels of arsenic were detected in this well. This discovery caused some concern of possible arsenic in the surrounding wells. All of the homes in Gale utilize groundwater from private wells for their water supply. In response to this concern, a total of nine residential wells in Gale were sampled; none illustrated elevated levels of arsenic except the well originally sampled.

The presence of DEHP in the off-site residential well indicates past, current, and future exposure to contaminated groundwater by household members may be occurring. Calculated exposure doses for adults and children, however, indicated the DEHP in the well water is not at a level of health concern. The available data indicated no other completed pathways of exposure are associated with the site. The benzene contamination identified in on-site groundwater could lead to a potential pathway of exposure if the contamination migrated off-site to residential wells located north of the site. Although groundwater flow toward residential wells has not been established, groundwater flow direction was observed to fluctuate during periods of high river stages. This phenomenon could potentially result in the on-site groundwater contamination reaching nearby residential wells. The arsenic contamination of the residential well in Gale is not believed to be site related.

There has been very little response from the surrounding community regarding the site. A Preliminary Health Assessment for the site was completed in September 1990. A draft of the health assessment was made available to the public for comment, however, none were received. The lack of community health concern is most likely because the site has been abandoned since 1983 and is located in a sparsely populated rural area.

The Ilada Energy Site poses no apparent public health hazard at this time. However, continued sampling of monitoring wells is needed to determine identification and movement of the groundwater contaminant plume. Future monitoring of nearby residential wells, particularly following episodes of high river stage, should be performed to ensure that site contaminants in the groundwater do not exceed levels of health concern. If data becomes available suggesting that human exposure to hazardous substances at levels of public health concern is occurring, the need for any followup at the site will be reevaluated. Of particular concern is the on-site groundwater contamination from the floating layer of petroleum product. Additionally, the Ilada water well that remains on-site should be properly abandoned and sealed in accordance with the Illinois Water Well Construction Code which states that a water well should be sealed within thirty (30) days after it is abandoned and no longer used for the purpose for which it was intended.

BACKGROUND

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

The 20.3 acre site is located in Alexander County, Illinois, on the floodplain of the Mississippi River within 1,000 feet of the River (Figure 1). Originally, the Federal Government operated a bulk fuel oil storage/transfer terminal on the site, taking advantage of the river accessibility. The Government operated the terminal from 1942 until the mid-1950s (18).

The site stood dormant until 1981 when the Ilada Energy Company purchased it. The Ilada Energy company operated on the site from 1981 to 1983 as a waste oil reclamation facility. In 1982, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) found that the company was improperly storing, handling, mixing, and disposing of waste oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The company requested, but was not granted, a permit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Ilada continued operation without a permit. In January 1983, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a complaint against the company for PCB violations under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The company abandoned the site in 1983 before taking any cleanup action (18).

The site, surrounded by a 7-foot high fence, consisted of 17 interconnected aboveground storage tanks, 7 small buildings, buried and aboveground pipelines, and 2 pipelines that ran from the pumphouse over the levee to the Mississippi River, apparently to barge-loading facilities (Figure 2). Five additional used bulk tanks and several small transport tanks were present on-site, but were not piped. Of the 17 piped tanks, 11 contained a total in excess of 1 million gallons of oily waste, some contaminated with PCBs, heavy metals, and chlorinated organic solvents.

In June 1988, the site was proposed for inclusion on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) . The NPL listing was finalized in October 1989. All structures, including foundations, tanks, aboveground and buried pipelines, debris, and grossly contaminated soils were removed from the property during the period of February 1990 to March 1991, under a Unilateral 106 Removal Action authorized by the EPA. The only remnants of the tank farm are the repaired 7-foot high perimeter fence, a water well, and the perimeter berms around the former tank areas (18).

The Remedial Investigation for the site addresses site conditions and contamination following the removal action.  Remedial investigation activites were initiated at the earliest possible date while minimizing interference with the removal activities.  To accomplish this, the investigation was conducted in two separate phases (I/IA & II).  Due to Mississippi River flooding and high water table conditions at the site from May through August 1990, the first phase was conducted in two units; Phase I during the period of February through May 1990, and Phase IA in September 1990.  Phase II was conducted during the period of May through September 1991 having periodic interruptions due to flooding and high water table conditions (18).

In September 1990, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), prepared a Preliminary Health Assessment for the site. An addendum to this report followed in August 1991, to include the activities of the removal action.

B. SITE VISIT

A site visit was conducted on November 30, 1988, by representatives of IDPH and IEPA. At that time, the site was overgrown with brush and small trees. A 7-foot high fence surrounded the site, however, a break in the fence on the southern boundary of the site would allow a trespasser to enter. (Effective February 1989, the site was posted with a 24-hour guard). Structures in various stages of deterioration including small buildings and above ground storage tanks of several sizes were located on the site. Darkened areas on the ground surface where oily material had apparently leaked were observed near several tanks. A pooled area of oily waste was evident near at least one of the tanks. Aboveground piping was also observed throughout the site. A petro-chemical odor was obvious on-site, particularly near leaking tanks and a wooden shed. A discharged shotgun shell was noted on-site indicating past hunting activities. During this visit, no other persons were observed in the vicinity of the site.

On February 27, 1991, a second site visit was conducted by IDPH. A representative with the Southern Seven County Health Department (SSCHD) accompanied the IDPH representative. A representative with Dames & Moore, the contractor conducting the remediation, was also on the site. A guard was posted at the main gate of the site. The site was in the final stages of the Unilateral 106 Removal Action. All structures, including foundations, tanks, aboveground and buried pipelines, debris, and grossly contaminated soils had been removed. Various pieces of equipment and two trailers used by the contractor during the remediation were still on the site.

In addition to the site visit, a well survey in the village of Gale, was also conducted on February 27, 1991, by the IDPH and SSCHD (26). Gale is located on Illinois Highway 3, approximately one mile southeast of the Ilada Energy site. The survey was initiated due to concerns of elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. A residential well in Gale was initially sampled in February 1990 for use by the contractor as a possible source of drilling water during the site remediation, not as an integral part of the groundwater investigation. Slightly elevated levels of arsenic, however, were detected in the groundwater samples from the residential well. The IDPH informed the well users and the SSCHD of the sampling results. These results generated some concern of possible arsenic contamination in the surrounding residential wells.

Gale is a small village with approximately 20 residents. Sexton Creek runs along the west edge of the village and the Missouri/Pacific railroad runs through the center of Gale. All of the homes in Gale utilize groundwater from private wells for their water supply. Eleven residences and one church were identified in Gale. A total of nine wells were sampled during the survey. One residential well was not sampled because the occupants of the home were unavailable. The survey did not identify any additional wells, other than the original residential well, with elevated levels of arsenic. Of the Gale residents interviewed, little concern regarding the Ilada Energy site was expressed.

During the summer of 1993, the site was covered by flood waters resulting from high river stages of the Mississippi River.  A visit to the site in November 1993 found the site still covered by flood waters.  The flood waters did not recede from the site until the spring of 1994.

On November 23, 1994, IDPH conducted another site visit to determine the status of the site.  The site was dry and surrounded by a fence with a posted, locked gate.  Thick vines covered the fence, and tall weeds and small trees covered the site area.  The site was not accessible at this time and so was only viewed from the site perimeter.

C. DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

Demographics

The immediate area surrounding the site is very rural. A population of approximately 130 residents is located within a 2-mile radius of the site (Figure 3). The closest residences to the site are three farmhouses located approximately 1/4 mile north. The village of Gale, with approximately 10 residences, is located one mile southeast of the site. A total of 53 individual residences are located within a 2-mile radius of the site; 43 in Illinois and 10 in Missouri (18). The village of East Cape Girardeau, Illinois, located three miles northwest of the site, had a 1990 population of 450. Nearly all persons were white. Approximately 7% of the population was under the age of 5 years, 42% were of childbearing years (ages 16-44), and 10% were 65 and over (33). The per capita income in 1989 was $10,487. Approximately 9% of the families had incomes below poverty level.

The principal of the Shawnee South Elementary School in McClure, Illinois, reported that 141 students, grades kindergarten through sixth, attend the school. McClure is located approximately 5 miles north of the site. Students from the area in grades 7th-12th attend the Shawnee Junior/Senior High School which is located 12 miles north of McClure in Wolf Lake, Illinois. The Shawnee Consolidated School District is a consolidation of several small, rural communities from northern Alexander and western Union Counties. Children from the Gale and East Cape Girardeau area attend the Shawnee schools. The consolidated school district originated in the early 1950's.

Land Use

The area surrounding the site is rural, sparsely populated farmland. Immediately adjacent to the site are agricultural fields along the eastern and western boundaries, the flood protection levee for the Mississippi River along the southern boundary, and a gravel county road along the northern boundary. Farmland is located to the north of the gravel road. The major crops raised in the area have been soybeans and wheat, with lesser quantities of corn and milo (18). South of the site on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River, a stone quarry is located within 1 mile, while a sawmill is located within 2 miles of the site (18).

Natural Resource Use

Groundwater is the main source of drinking water for this rural population. Fifty-four private wells were identified within a 2-mile radius of the site (18). The nearest wells to the site include three wells located about 1/4 mile to the north of the site. The land owners reported the wells to be approximately 35 feet deep (18). The community of Gale relies exclusively on private wells for its water supply. The McClure East Cape Girardeau Public Water District well (108 feet deep; finished in a sand and gravel aquifer) is located six miles northeast of the site. This supply serves 975 people including residents of the community of East Cape Girardeau (29). The 461 person community of Thebes, Illinois (two miles south of Gale) obtains drinking water from a well finished in limestone 300 feet deep (29). No irrigation wells were identified within a 2-mile radius of the site. A well utilized for farming purposes is located approximately 1.5 miles north of the site (18).

The site is located on the floodplain of the Mississippi River within 1000 feet of the river. The Mississippi River is utilized extensively for barge traffic. Other river activities include recreational boating, sport fishing, and commercial fishing. Commercial fishing generally includes freshwater mussels, various catfish species, carp, and shovelnose sturgeon. Roe is collected from the sturgeon and sold for caviar (27). The confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers is approximately 50 miles downstream of the site.

D. Health Outcome Data

Using state health databases, it is sometimes possible to determine whether certain health effects are higher that expected in a particular area, such as an exposed population near a hazardous waste site (1). This section identifies available, relevant databases; their evaluation occurs in the Public Health Implications section.

In Illinois, the Illinois Health and Hazardous Substances Registry Act was signed into law in 1984. As a result of the Act, the Health And Hazardous Substances Registry (IHHSR) was created. The major purpose of the IHHSR is to monitor health effects among the citizens of Illinois related to exposures to hazardous substances in the work place and in the environment. Specifically, the IHHSR is a unified statewide project to collect, compile and correlate information on public health and hazardous substances. The registry consists of the compilation of information in the following categories:

  1. Cancer incidence.

  2. Adverse pregnancy outcomes.

  3. Occupational diseases.

  4. Hazardous nuclear materials.

  5. Hazardous substances incidents.

The Illinois State Cancer Registry (ISCR) is one of the registries developed as a result of this Act. As of January 1, 1985, mandated reports of all cancer patients newly diagnosed in non-federal Illinois hospitals are reported to ISCR. In addition, some federal hospitals in Illinois report cases voluntarily. Some bordering states also exchange cancer data with Illinois. The ISCR is the prime source for information on cancer incidence within the state. Currently, the ISCR includes cancer incidence data for the years 1985-1992 (28).

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Generally, very little response from the surrounding community has been voiced regarding the Ilada Energy Site. The site is located in a sparcely populated area and has been abandoned since 1983.

A Preliminary Health Assessment for the Ilada Energy Site was completed in September 1990. Prior to finalizing this document, a draft of the assessment was made available for public comment at the repository designated by EPA. The 30 day public comment period (May 20-June 20, 1990) for review of the draft health assessment was publicized in the local papers, however, no public comments were received.

The detection of the arsenic in the Gale well caused some concern to surrounding property owners since they also rely on groundwater from private wells for their water supply. In response to this concern, a well survey was conducted in the village of Gale. During the well survey, the residents expressed concern of possible arsenic in their wells, however, they did not associate the arsenic with the site.  There have been no recent site related community health concerns expressed to IDPH, IEPA, or the local health department (36, 37).


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