EFFINGHAM, EFFINGHAM COUNTY, ILLINOIS
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) requested that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) do a health consultation for the Lake Landfill site near Effingham, Illinois. The purpose of this health consultation is to assess any known or potential adverse human health effects from information currently available for the Lake Landfill site.
The Lake Landfill site is an inactive landfill occupying approximately 40 acres in Effingham County, Illinois (Attachment 1). The landfill is in a rural area on Country Club Road, 2 miles west of the city of Effingham (Attachment 2). Approximately 94 single family homes are within 1 mile of the landfill . The Little Wabash River borders the site on the east, and an unnamed tributary of the Little Wabash River borders the site on the north. An agricultural field and residential area are along the western edge of the landfill. The closest home is approximately 150 feet from the southwestern corner of the landfill. The surrounding residential community depends on private groundwater wells for all its water needs. Groundwater associated with the site flows south-southeast toward the Little Wabash River.
The landfill operated from 1971 to 1981 and accepted solid wastes, including Effingham municipal waste. During the 1970s, the landfill was used as a disposal site for ink waste from a local printing manufacturing facility. According to IEPA files, the waste ink contained phenol, selenium, toluene, trichloroethane, xylene, and cadmium . The landfill lacked an impermeable liner and a final soil cover.
Beginning in 1972, IEPA conducted several landfill inspections in response to reports of leachate from the site entering the Little Wabash River. In September 1972, a fish kill in the Little Wabash River was suspected to be a result of leachate originating from the landfill. IEPA reported other violations that included disposal of sludges and water ponding on the landfill surface. Insufficient cover, exposed waste, and waste extending past the property boundary onto neighboring properties were also reported .
In 1986, IEPA inspected the landfill and reported a gaseous odor and bubbling ponded water. The leachate samples collected and analyzed contained polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including xylene, chlorobenzene, and ethyl benzene. That same year, IEPA also collected and analyzed water samples from 21 private wells within a 1-mile radius of the landfill. The water samples were analyzed for organics and metals. IDPH and Effingham County Health Department (ECHD) staff assisted IEPA in those efforts. Water samples were collected from each home and were analyzed for nitrates and bacteria. Visual surveys of water wells and septic systems were also done.
In September 1988, under the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) completed a preliminary assessment of the site. In June 1989, USEPA conducted a CERCLA Screening Site Inspection at the site. They collected on-site surface soil samples, sediment samples from the Little Wabash River, and 4 residential well samples. Three wells were on the site in the south-southeastern portion of the property, and one background well was sampled northwest of the landfill. Leachate seeps were observed; however, no leachate was seen entering the Little Wabash River .
In June 1995, USEPA conducted a CERCLA Site Inspection Prioritization investigation. IEPA conducted the most recent site investigation in July 1996. The purpose of this investigation was to conduct a CERCLA Site Team Evaluation Prioritization (STEP) of the site. This inspection included the collection of 4 on-site surface soil samples, 3 on-site groundwater samples, and two residential well samples. The landfill was inactive; however, visual evidence suggested area hunters were using the site. No structures were on the landfill property. The landfill was covered with vegetation except areas where ponding water collected. The northern portion of the landfill had been excavated and was about 20 to 30 feet below the grade of the landfill. A ditch ran through the excavated area and drained runoff from the landfill into the Little Wabash River. Leachate seeps were noted on the north, east, and south slopes of the landfill. The leachate was reported as dark orange in color, and gas bubbles were reported bubbling from the leachate . In the areas where the leachate seeps were noted, surface erosion of the slopes resulted in exposed refuse materials.
IDPH staff revisited the site in January 1998. The landfill was covered with snow and ice, and no structures were noted on the site. Access to the site was not restricted. Evidence of hunting activities and all-terrain vehicles have been previously noted on the site property. Beneath the snow, most of the site property is heavily vegetated, greatly reducing contaminant vapors and dusts that could result in exposure to an occasional trespasser.
Approximately ten new homes were noted near the landfill that were not present during the 1986 well survey. These homes have been constructed west and southwest of the site. A subdivision was being established along the northern border of the Effingham Country Club property, which is west of the site. Residents in the new homes depend on groundwater for their water supply. A drilled well, 50 feet in depth, serves as the water supply for the country club. The club house for the facility features a restaurant, bar, and restrooms.
In the past, nearby residents complained about odors originating from the landfill. Past site IEPA inspections noted gas bubbles in ponded water and exposed waste. No air monitoring has been conducted at the site. The site, however, is heavily vegetated except scattered areas of ponding water and surface erosion ditches on the north and east sides of the property.