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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

PAGEL'S PIT
ROCKFORD, WINNEBAGO COUNTY, ILLINOIS




SUMMARY

The Pagel's Pit Landfill site (Winnebago Reclamation Landfill or WRL) is a former limestone quarry that was converted into a solid waste disposal landfill. The site occupies about 100 acres (the landfill occupies approximately 47 acres) and is 5 miles south of Rockford in New Milford, a rural, unincorporated area of south Winnebago County. The landfill has been in operation since 1972 and, according to the landfill operator, still has approximately 3 to 5 years before reaching capacity. The discovery of area private well contamination resulted in the placement of the nearby Acme Solvents site on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) National Priority List (NPL or Superfund) in l985. The WRL was also a suspected contributor to area groundwater contamination and was placed on the NPL in June of 1986.

An investigation of Acme Solvents during 1984-1985 resulted in the provision of home groundwater treatment systems for several area residents with affected wells. Since Acme Solvents and the affected private wells are upgradient of the landfill, the WRL is not considered a contributor to this contamination.

A Remedial Investigation (RI) was conducted for the WRL between 1988 and 1990 and determined the groundwater contamination as the main public health concern associated with this site. Area groundwater west of the landfill and on the southwest border of the landfill has been impacted by contaminants. While several contaminants were found above levels of health concern in area groundwater, there is no exposure to these compounds.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has determined that the site currently poses no apparent public health hazard since there is presently no indication of exposure to contaminants at levels of health concern. The site could pose a health threat due to the potential for future exposure to groundwater, however, the locations of the private wells and the direction of groundwater flow make this exposure unlikely. The installation of the gas extraction system and the existence of the leachate collection system also reduces the potential for contaminant transport off-site. Furthermore, remedial actions planned for the site should eliminate the potential for future exposure to groundwater. Past exposures to contaminants in air and surface soils may have occurred at this site, however, it is impossible to characterize these potential exposures because of limited data.

The community surrounding the site is concerned with potential health effects from drinking and using contaminated groundwater in the area. As previously stated, however, affected area wells have been provided water treatment systems and future residential well contamination is unlikely since the nearest residence is 1/2 mile from the site. IDPH has recommended that private wells located in the path of the contaminants plume be monitored regularly in order to determine if contaminants have affected previously uncontaminated wells.


BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

The Pagel's Pit Landfill site (also known as the Winnebago Reclamation Landfill or WRL) is a former limestone quarry that has been converted into a solid waste disposal landfill. The site occupies about 100 acres (the landfill occupies approximately 47 acres) and is approximately 5 miles south of Rockford in New Milford, a rural, unincorporated area of south Winnebago County (Figures l and 2) (12). In 1972, Rockford Blacktop Construction Company, owner of the site, converted the limestone quarry into a landfill. The sides and bottom of the 35 foot deep pit were graded and lined with 2 inches of asphalt. The asphalt was then sealed with a coal tar sealer (8). A leachate collection system covering the base of the landfill was also installed. Leachate was collected through perforated pipes which drained into a series of manholes. The leachate was then pumped from the manholes into a lined leachate pond on top of the landfill where it was aerated and periodically trucked to the wastewater treatment plant in Rockford (8 pg 2). In 1992, a sanitary sewer line was installed which connects the WRL site to the Rock River Water Reclamation District, a local publicly owned treatment works (POTW). Since then, leachate has been piped to the District by sewer line. A landfill gas collection system is also in operation at the WRL.

The original operational permit for the WRL was issued for the disposal of municipal wastes, and sewage sludge from the Rockford Sanitary District. In l984, a sludge drying system was installed to reduce the volume of the sewage sludge prior to its disposal in the WRL. The landfill gas, primarily methane and carbon dioxide, is collected from the WRL and is used to fuel the on-site sewage sludge drying system. In addition to municipal solid wastes, special wastes, including plating and painting sludges, and industrial wastes were accepted at the WRL (12). The quantity of industrial wastes disposed of at the WRL is not known.

On numerous occasions, nearby residents have complained of odors in the area and blowing litter from the WRL. In addition to the landfill, the sludge drying facility has most likely contributed to some odor problems in the area. Other potential sources of odor in the area include the alcohol manufacturing plant which operated from 1985 through 1986 on property adjoining the WRL, the hog feedlot located to the west of the WRL site, and the septic tank pumping and cleaning business west of the WRL site.

In l980, the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) responded to complaints by a neighboring homeowner of gas seeping into the basement of his home. Subsequent investigations by the WCHD and representatives of the WRL found that methane and carbon dioxide gases, generated during the anaerobic decomposition of landfill materials, were migrating away from the landfill through the subsoils. Results of an investigation conducted by Warzyn Engineering Inc. showed that methane gas was migrating in several directions from the refuse area. Based on this finding the WRL owner installed a methane gas venting system of wells to control the migration of gases from the site. Subsequent monitoring performed after the installation of the gas venting system indicated that the system was controlling the lateral migration of gases from the landfill.

In l98l, the WCHD discovered organic chemical contamination in five nearby private wells (Figure 3). These wells (E through H and P) were contaminated with varying levels (in excess of 400 parts per billion total) of several chlorinated ethanes and ethenes. The source(s) of the contamination was unknown.

Located directly east of the WRL is Acme Solvents, a former industrial waste disposal site. In l982 this site was placed on the NPL because of identified soil and groundwater contamination. A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) conducted by the E.C. Jordan Company in 1984 detected numerous organic and inorganic compounds including volatile and semi-volatile compounds, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the soils on-site. In addition, a volatile organic contaminant plume was identified in the groundwater beneath and around the Acme Solvents site. The contaminant plume was found to be migrating to the west-southwest from the Acme site.

The WRL was placed on the National Priority Listing (NPL) in June of l986 due to the discovery of arsenic, cadmium and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate in groundwater at the site (5,12). In l986 the WRL's potentially responsible parties (PRPs) entered into a consent order with the USEPA to perform a RI/FS at the site. The RI/FS was conducted to determine the role the WRL may have played in the volatile organic contamination of groundwater in the area, better characterize area groundwater flow and determine the source(s) of the contaminants, perform a risk assessment to evaluate potential health effects associated with the groundwater contamination, and to develop data for remedial alternatives for the site. Results confirmed the findings of earlier studies conducted in the area. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including aromatic hydrocarbons and chlorinated ethenes and ethanes, were detected in leachate and groundwater samples. Groundwater flow in the area was determined as generally from east to west.

A Record of Decision (ROD) presenting the selected remedial action for the WRL was signed on June 28, 1991 by USEPA with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) concurrence (5,9). This ROD applies only to the first operable unit which includes all of the site with the exception of the contaminated groundwater in the southeast corner. This contamination will be addressed in the future under a separate ROD. The selected remedy should not interfere with the operation of the landfill and includes:

- a sanitary landfill cover for the waste disposal area;
- groundwater extraction along the west side of the site;
- on-site groundwater treatment by carbon adsorption or air stripping following pretreatment with a solids filter, with the treated water being discharged to surface water;
- removal of inorganics by treatment, if necessary, prior to carbon adsorption or air stripping;
- leachate extraction and transfer to the local publicly owned treatment works for treatment;
- gas extraction and the use of the gas for fuel or the flaring of the gas; deed restrictions for land surrounding the site; and
- site monitoring and maintenance of all remedial action components (9).

A Consent Decree was signed by USEPA and the responsible parties in February of 1993. The decree provides money for remedial activities and recovery of some of USEPA's costs.

B. Site Visit

Staff from IDPH have conducted several site visits, the most recent of which was October 1994. WRL is an active municipal waste landfill with heavy traffic in and out of the facility daily. The majority of the site is fenced and access to the landfill is gained through the main entrance on Lindenwood Road. An attendant is present at this gate during all operational hours. Access to areas of the site that are not fenced is restricted by heavy woods and steep slopes. The closed portion of the site is vegetated and well kept. No debris or dust was noticed migrating from the site during the October 1994 visit.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resources Use

Demographics

The WRL is located in a very sparsely populated, rural section of southern Winnebago County and is situated on the west side of Lindenwood Road, south of Baxter Road. Approximately 430 homes exist within a 3-mile radius around WRL (5). Of these, approximately 24 homes with an estimated population between 60 to 70 people are located within a 1/2-mile radius (4). Middle class, Caucasian families make up the majority of this population. The distance from the site boundary to the nearest residence is approximately 500 feet (east of the site).

Land Use

Land use in the area is residential, recreational, and mostly agricultural. In addition to the active landfill operation, site activities consist of an active sewage sludge drying plant and an inactive alcohol production plant. Both of these facilities are located to the north of the landfill. These two facilities are bordered to the north by farmland. The primary crops grown in this area are corn and soybeans. The Meridian Forest Preserve is 1 mile northwest of the landfill. Killbuck Creek, which runs north and south along the western edge of the WRL property, flows within 250 feet of the landfill border. The creek is shallow and impassible to boating in the vicinity of the site. Killbuck Creek is, however, used for sport fishing further downstream. The creek is not used as a source of water for human consumption, livestock consumption, or irrigation of farm crops. It merges with the Kishwaukee River about 2 miles north of the WRL. Two intermittent streams flow north and south of the landfill and merge with Killbuck Creek at points l,000 feet northwest and l,200 feet south of the site.

West of the WRL is a heavily wooded area. Directly south is an open field. East across Lindenwood Road is Acme Solvents, a former industrial waste disposal site. This site was placed on the NPL in l985. Remedial action is currently being conducted at this site by representatives of the Acme PRPs with USEPA oversight.

Natural Resource Use

The WRL is situated in the Rock River Hill Country of the Till Plains section of the Central Lowland Physiographic Province. This area is characterized by broad, rolling uplands rising above alluvial valleys. Soils in the area are part of the Hononegah series. These soils are the result of glacial deposition and are described as dark brown, loamy, course sands with a characteristically high permeability. These soils have a pH that is neutral to acidic and have a relatively low organic matter content.

The geology of the WRL site consists of unconsolidated materials overlying bedrock. The unconsolidated materials range in thickness from 8 to l00 feet (12). The unconsolidated materials near the WRL are predominantly sands and gravels in the lower portions of the unit with silts or clays near the ground's surface. The bedrock near the WRL is composed of highly fractured dolomite.

Warzyn reports that the fractures are dominantly horizontal bedding planes frequently cross-cut by vertical fractures. Groundwater near the WRL is contained in both the unconsolidated materials and the underlying bedrock. The water table is situated in the fractured bedrock east of and below the eastern quarter of the WRL. The water table occurs in the unconsolidated formations in the remaining three-quarters of the WRL. Groundwater flow in the area is multidirectional (12). In the upper aquifer, flow is generally from east to west. Groundwater flow in the northern portion of the site is toward the west, while in the southern portion flow is toward the south-west. Near Killbuck Creek, north of the landfill, the groundwater flows west to southwest toward the creek. South of the WRL, the groundwater appears to flow from the east to the southwest toward the creek. The average annual precipitation in the area is 38 inches, with two-thirds occurring during the spring and summer months. The prevailing winds in the area are from the west-northwest (12).

The homes in the area rely on private wells for their water supply. In February of 1987, the Acme Solvents PRPs installed whole-house carbon filters in five homes with wells contaminated with VOCs. The locations of these wells (G through L) are shown in Figure 3. Two filter systems have been taken out of service because the homes are unoccupied, and the PRPs continue to maintain the filter systems in the other three homes.

D. Health Outcome Data

The community in the area of the WRL site and Acme Solvents site have concerns related to each site. In response to the contamination and concerns, members of the Acme Solvents area community are participating in ATSDR's Trichloroethene (TCE) Exposure Registry and are being contacted at yearly intervals concerning their health status. Since the WRL site and the Acme Solvents site may be affecting the same communities, IDPH will consider each site in the Community Health Concerns Evaluation subsection of the Public Health Implications Section.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Residents in the area of the WRL and the Acme Solvents sites have expressed concern over contaminated groundwater. Complaints were filed with the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD), IEPA, and IDPH in 1981 concerning groundwater quality. USEPA and IEPA have conducted public meetings to discuss the RI/FS remedial activities. These meetings provided opportunities for public comment. During these meetings and conversations with IEPA, WCHD, IDPH, and local government officials, the following community health concerns were raised:

  1. What are the potential long-term health effects associated with exposure to site-related contaminants?
  2. What are the impacts expected from contamination to Killbuck Creek?
  3. Is there a health hazard from exposure to landfill gas to local residents?
  4. Is leachate escaping from the site? Is it flowing into Killbuck Creek?

Community health concerns were updated December of 1994 through contact with IEPA and USEPA representatives, and local county health officials. No new concerns were expressed.


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