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HEALTH CONSULTATION

MERVIS INDUSTRIES
MATTOON, COLES COUNTY, ILLINOIS


BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF ISSUES

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) requested that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) review available site data to determine if contaminants at the Mervis Industries site are present at levels of public health concern, to identify site-related public health hazards, and to recommend necessary actions to reduce the site's public health impact.

Mervis Industries is an active scrap metal salvage yard in Coles County on the east side of Mattoon, Illinois (Attachments 1 and 2). The site has been operating since the 1960s. The site purchases metal products including household and farm equipment, aluminum cans, underground storage tanks, and old cars. The facility also collects cardboard for recycling. Once the material is collected and prepared on site, it is sold to a metal foundry or a recycling facility. Before site activities began, the land was used as a baseball and softball field. Land north, east, and south of the site is used for industrial, commercial, and agricultural purposes. The nearest residential area consists of single family homes and is approximately 200 feet west of the site.

In 1991, IEPA investigated a complaint made about the site. While investigating the site, IEPA personnel observed waste oil that was released into a ditch at the northeast corner of the site. A hydraulic metal shearer at the east-central portion of the site was contributing to the oil releases on site. The shearer loses approximately 200 gallons of oil per month.

On December 3 and 4, 1996, IEPA conducted a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Integrated Assessment (IA) Inspection to determine whether site-related activities were adversely affecting the surface water and surrounding environment. On-site and off-site soil and sediment samples were collected during the IA inspection.

On May 23, 1997, an IDPH investigator visited the site. The salvage yard currently employs twelve full-time employees. The main office building at the west site entrance houses the administrative offices and a storage area for small quantities of cardboard and non-ferrous metals such as aluminum cans and copper. A second building, where the hydraulic pump and operating panel for the metal shearer is located, is on the east-central portion of the site.

Along the site access road are various piles of scrap metal that present a physical hazard to trespassers. IDPH staff noted a pile of tires at the southwestern portion of the site. Access on the north and west sids of the site is restricted by a wooden fence. A chain linked fence surrounds the remaining two sides of the site; however, segments of the fence are in poor condition, making the site accessible to trespassers. No signs are posted to keep trespassers off the site. An oil sump pit at the northeast end of the site contains oil from the hydraulic pump. Surface water drainage from the site also drains into the pit and then is pumped into a roadside ditch on the other side of the fence. The oil, however, theoretically remains in the pit. This ditch continues to flow northeast of the scrap yard and eventually empties into Riley Creek.

IEPA collected thirteen samples from on-site and off-site locations for the IA Inspection. One off-site, background soil sample (X108) and seven on-site soil samples (X101-X107) were collected on December 3, 1996, (Attachments 3 and 4). Sample X108 was collected from Cunningham Park, approximately one mile west of the site. Five off-site sediment samples (X201-X205) were also collected from the surface water drainage ditch the next day (Attachment 4). All soil and sediment samples were collected from the upper eight inches of soil, except sample X105, which was collected 2.5 feet below the surface.


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