PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
YEOMAN CREEK AND EDWARDS FIELD
WAUKEGAN, LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), has determined from the available data that the 49.2 acre Yeoman Creek and 11.9 acre Edwards Field Landfills National Priorities List (NPL) sites in Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois, currently pose no apparent public health hazard because no exposure to contaminants at levels of health concern currently exists.
Both landfills are closed and covered. The Edwards Field Landfill, located south of the Yeoman Creek Landfill, received municipal wastes and reportedly some polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The Yeoman Creek Landfill received landscape and demolition wastes, domestic garbage, sludge, and reportedly an unknown amount of PCBs. The Edwards Field Landfill received wastes from 1958 until 1963, when the Yeoman Creek Landfill opened. Following the closure of the Yeoman Creek Landfill in 1970, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) found leachate from the landfill entering Yeoman Creek because of inadequate final cover. Several contaminants, including volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, as well as metals, have been detected in the leachate, and some have been detected at elevated levels in on-site groundwater.
Completed exposure pathways include dermal contact with and ingestion or inhalation (dust) of surface soil and inhalation of airborne chemicals. However, these exposures are likely infrequent, of short duration, and negligible. Additionally, people have been exposed to methane and other volatile organic compounds that accumulated in a nearby building basement. Those exposures stopped when better ventilation was provided. Potential exposure pathways include dermal contact with and ingestion of contaminated sediments and dermal contact with contaminated surface water. Possible exposures are also considered negligible because they would be expected infrequently and of short duration. On-site contaminated groundwater is not used as a drinking water source. Nearby businesses and residences are served by the municipal supply of Waukegan, which obtains water from Lake Michigan.
IDPH recommends monitoring nearby buildings with basements for explosive levels of methane and other volatile organic compounds and continued monitoring of on-site wells to detect possible changes in contaminants, their concentrations, and migration. No health studies are warranted at this time. In the future, if new data indicate that exposure to potentially harmful levels of chemicals is occurring, the need for follow-up health studies will be reevaluated.
The Yeoman Creek Landfill covers about 49.2 acres in the southeastern quarter of Section 8, T45N, R12E, in Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois (Figure 1). Most of the site is owned by Waukegan School District #60, while some of the landfill extends into properties to the north and south. The landfill is bordered by a marsh on the south, Butrick Avenue on the east, Elmwood and Lorraine Avenues to the west, and commercial/residential properties along Sunset Avenue on the north (Golder, 1994). The Yeoman Creek Landfill was added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) National Priorities List (NPL) in 1986 (Golder, 1994).
The Edwards Field Landfill covers about 11.9 acres south of the Yeoman Creek Landfill in the northeastern quarter of Section 17, T45N, R12E. The Waukegan Park District owns most of the site, which is bound by a power line right-of-way on the north, open land on the south, Yeoman Creek on the east, and commercial property on the west. The Edwards Field Landfill was added to the NPL on March 11, 1991 (Golder, 1994).
The City of Waukegan contracted for the use of both landfills. The Edwards Field Landfill received wastes from 1958 until 1963, when the Yeoman Creek Landfill opened. The Yeoman Creek Landfill operated until 1970. The Edwards Field Landfill was operated by a subsidiary of the National Disposal Service, Inc. The Yeoman Creek Landfill was operated by the National Disposal Service, Inc., until 1969, when T-K City Disposal, Inc., assumed operations. Unrelated filling south of the Edwards Field Landfill reportedly included random dumping and apparently occurred between 1970 and 1974 (Golder, 1994).
When National Disposal Services operated the Yeoman Creek Landfill, they maintained a 50-foot buffer between the wastes and Yeoman Creek. However, when T-K Disposal took over, they disregarded this buffer and filled to within 5 feet of the stream. Following closure of the Yeoman Creek Landfill in 1970, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) found it lacked adequate final cover, and leachate was entering Yeoman Creek. After 1970, the City made many ineffective attempts to cover the landfill adequately, but leachate seeps continued. Between 1979 and 1980, following the initiation of legal action by IEPA and the Illinois State Attorney General, the City (1) completed its program of applying final cover to the site, (2) installed a partial fence with gates and locks to restrict vehicular access, (3) posted signs that random dumping was illegal, and (4) installed a retention berm along Yeoman Creek. In 1980, the required two feet of cover was achieved, which greatly reduced leachate production. However, the cover was too permeable to prevent rainwater infiltration.
USEPA investigated allegations that fill material from the landfill operations was used east of Butrick Avenue, including under apartments along this road; however, USEPA found the fill to be clean and documented that fact in the Remedial Investigation report (Golder, 1994; Kuhn and Millian, 1985; IEPA files, 1988).
The Waukegan Park District built two little league baseball diamonds on the Edwards Field Landfill. IDPH recommended ceasing this practice, and the Park District voluntarily closed the fields before the 1990 season.
The materials deposited in the Yeoman Creek Landfill included landscape and demolition wastes, domestic garbage, and sludge. A landfill in a city the size of Waukegan and operated at that time may have also received some hazardous and nonhazardous special wastes. IEPA files contain little information on this subject other than a report from one hauler about dumping an unknown amount of PCBs. The Edwards Field Landfill received municipal wastes, and one hauler reported disposing PCBs at the site.
IEPA collected and analyzed environmental samples in 1981, 1982, and 1984 and found elevated ammonia, arsenic, boron, and PCB levels in on-site groundwater (IEPA files, 1988). In 1985, IEPA found PCBs in sediments of Yeoman Creek and the sump of a nursing home north of the site. A fire occurred in the sump of a building north of the site, but IEPA was not able to determine if the cause was a result of contaminate migration from the landfills (IEPA Potential Hazardous Waste Site Inspection Report, 1985; Kuhn and Millian, 1985).
On June 4, 1992, ATSDR released an Interim Preliminary Health Assessment for the Yeoman Creek Landfill, with an addendum on the Edwards Field Landfill. This document was prepared by IDPH through a cooperative agreement, and it stated the site was an indeterminate health risk because it was unknown if contaminants could reach private wells north of the site and the concentrations of contaminants in surface soil were unknown.
IDPH staff conducted a site visit of the Yeoman Creek Landfill on April 5, 1989, and examined both landfills on May 24, 1990 (with Waukegan Park District staff for Edwards Field), July 31, 1991, October 30, 1991 (IDPH and ATSDR staff), May 11, 1995, June 3, 1996, and February 19, 1997 (IDPH staff). On April 5, 1989, and May 24, 1990, we saw remnants of a fence about 4 feet high along the southwestern side of the Yeoman Creek Landfill, making the site readily accessible. On July 31, 1991, the site was surrounded by a chain-link fence topped by barbed wire. Signs reading, "Warning!/Hazardous Area/No Trespassing" were in place. The fence also inhibits access to Yeoman Creek on the western side of the Yeoman Creek Landfill. On the eastern side of the landfill along Butrick Avenue was a large burned area from a grass fire. A nursing home was about 100 feet north of the site on Sunset Avenue. On October 30, 1991, on the eastern side of the landfill near the apartments, shopping carts were stacked against the site fence, probably to enable access, most likely by teenagers.
On May 24, 1990, two baseball diamonds with backstops were on the Edwards Field Landfill. The southern field was fenced and had automatic sprinklers, lights, (eight poles), tile drainage, and a water fountain. Installation of the backstops, light poles, sprinkler system, and tile drainage punctured the cap and may have compromised its integrity. The bleachers on the southern field, which were only about 5 feet tall, sat on crushed limestone. The fence on the southern ball diamond was low, and the entire site was readily accessible. In the past, the landfill settled and soil had to be added to the southern outfield. In the fall of 1988, the northern field was regraded to remove waves and pitched to drain. A fungicide was used once every 30 days on the southern field, and herbicides were applied as needed. A gate at the end of Roger Edwards Avenue that provided access to the site was normally locked. "Closed" signs were posted at the entry road and barricaded parking lot. No signs, however, were posted on the northern side of the site across a power line right-of-way and near residences.
On May 24, 1990, IDPH discovered that east of the southern field and along Roger Edwards Avenue the Waukegan Park District had been stockpiling leaves, soil, and wood chips for use at other baseball fields. IDPH recommended that the Park District stop this practice because the debris could contain contaminants if dirt from the landfill were removed with the debris. On July 31, 1991, fresh wood chips and soil were stored on the paved parking lot, but not on the ground. An old, apparently abandoned pile of wood chips remained southeast of the southern ball diamond. By the Edwards Field Landfill, the banks of the sluggish Yeoman Creek are marshy, have many cattails, and are less accessible than other areas along the stream. About 70 feet southeast of the southern ball diamond fence is a wet marshy area. On July 31, 1991, standing water was on a settled part of the access road by the southern ball diamond. Because it had not rained recently, the water may have come from leachate. The area of the landfill south of Roger Edwards Avenue is not owned or maintained by the Waukegan Park District. The eastern side of that section is well-covered with grass, but the western part is mainly bare dirt, with little grass. The bare areas are apparently south of the contaminated fill. At the southern end of the landfill, near Roger Edwards Avenue, we noted several physical hazards, including a pile of broken concrete and soil about 12 feet high, an old mattress, and dumped metal. We did not see any wells. On October 30, 1991, the two landfills were essentially unchanged.
On May 11, 1995, the part of the Edwards Field Landfill owned by the Waukegan Park District and the on-site marsh were surrounded by a chain-link fence topped by barbed wire. The bleachers had been removed, and the access road was flooded on-site, although recent heavy rains probably contributed. The site was unkempt and overgrown, but otherwise unchanged. On that date, no changes were noted at the Yeoman Creek Landfill.
On June 3, 1996, the Yeoman Creek Landfill was essentially unchanged. At the Edwards Field Landfill, the fence had the same warning signs as the Yeoman Creek Landfill. The Edwards Field Landfill had become more overgrown, but was otherwise unchanged.
On February 19, 1997, the Edwards Field Landfill was essentially unchanged. Near the apartments on the northern part of the western side of the Yeoman Creek Landfill were branches and a shopping cart against the fence, and one large branch was hung on the barbed wire of the fence. The branches had been placed there and did not fall from a tree, because no trees were immediately over them. Apparently, the shopping cart and branches were placed to allow access to the site, most likely by teenagers. On the eastern side of the site by the apartments, an approximately ten-inch gap in an access gate may allow small children access to the site.
Yeoman Creek flows along the western side of the Yeoman Creek Landfill. Apartments, a nursing home, and commercial properties are within 100 feet east, north, and west of the site. The nearest single family homes are about 100 feet south of the landfill on Greenwood Avenue (Golder, 1994).
Yeoman Creek flows along the eastern side of the Edwards Landfill. The nearest homes to the Edwards Field Landfill are about 300 feet south, and other houses are 350 feet north of the landfill on Greenwood Avenue, across the power line right-of-way (Golder, 1994).
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 the site zip code to the state as a whole or a control group. Such a comparison is made if (1) exposure to a chemical(s) is occurring at levels that may cause an adverse health effect(s), (2) the adverse health effect is recorded on one of the state data bases, 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.
A Waukegan Harbor citizens group has expressed concern about leachate seeping into Yeoman Creek, polluting the Waukegan River, and eventually, Lake Michigan. Other than this group, little public interest in this site exists. In 1991, USEPA mailed 1,200 invitations to residents about a public meeting, and only eight attended (Hammil, 1991).