PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
BUCKEYE RECLAMATION LANDFILL
ST. CLAIRSVILLE, BELMONT COUNTY, OHIO
Buckeye Reclamation Landfill, a National Priority List site, is in
Belmont County, southeast of St. Clairsville, Ohio. The site was
once mined for coal and served as a disposal area for mine waste,
sanitary waste, and hazardous waste.
Reportedly, 4.6 million
gallons of liquid hazardous waste was disposed of in the Waste Pit
area (Woodward-Clyde, 1985). The disposal of hazardous waste in
the Waste Pit has contaminated on-site soils, groundwater,
leachate, and surface water, with volatile organic compounds,
semivolatiles, and metals. Buckeye Reclamation Landfill is a
hazard due to the potential for exposure to humans.
Individuals on-site, whether workers, or trespassers, may be
exposed to site-related contaminants through
contaminated leachate on site. Although workers at the landfill
may have been exposed to site-related chemicals, most of the 13
workers were employed at the landfill for two years or less and the
exposure duration is not likely to result in health effects. There
is no current use for on-site groundwater, however, benzene and
arsenic were found in the shallow and deep aquifers at levels of
concern, and may migrate off site. Chromium was found at levels of
concern in the deep aquifer system. Groundwater from one off-site
private well contained very low levels of toluene that would not
affect human health. Additionally, groundwater from another
residential well also contained lead above the current standard.
At this time, it appears that community concern is limited. The
data and information developed in the Buckeye Reclamation Landfill
Public Health Assessment have been evaluated for follow-up health
actions. A community health education program will be considered,
if community response indicates a need for assistance in
understanding the potential for exposure to site-related chemicals.
In addition, because the number of workers on-site during landfill
operations is so small, an epidemiological investigation is not
likely to provide useful information. Proper protective clothing
should be worn during remedial activities to reduce possible
exposure to contaminated soil and dust. Additional groundwater
sampling should be done for private wells, the Redstone Aquifer,
and the off-site alluvial aquifer to further delineate
contamination in this area and to fully characterize groundwater
Buckeye Reclamation Landfill (BRL) is off State Route 214 in Richland Township about 4 miles southeast of St. Clairsville in Belmont County, Ohio (Figure 1, Appendix A). The site consists of nearly 658 acres. The landfill closed in April 1991. The steepness of the terrain might restrict site access. There is no fence surrounding the site. There is a gate at the entrance of the landfill which can restrict vehicle traffic.
The landfill is in a steep V-shaped valley which slopes towards the south. Three surface water bodies are located on the site: Kings Run Creek along the eastern border, Unnamed Creek along the western edge, and the Northern Impoundment on the northern edge. Kings Run flows into Little McMahon Creek at the southern edge (toe) of the landfill (Figure 2, Appendix A). All three water bodies have been affected by past coal mining operations. Acid mine drainage from the mining and waste disposal of coal has visibly affected water quality turning surface water an orange/red color and killing vegetation along the edges. The entire area, except for the most recent landfill area and gob piles (mine waste), is covered by mixed vegetation. Gob consists of rock fragments mixed with sand, silt, coal, and clay. The area surrounding the site consists of steep, wooded valleys. There is a small community about 1,000 feet south of the toe of the landfill.
The Waste Pit, where most of the liquid hazardous waste was placed, originally was a west-east valley at the north end of the landfill site. The Waste Pit is nearly 5 acres. The east end of the area was dammed by a gob ridge to form what is now called the Waste Pit disposal area. This pit was eventually filled in with garbage and gob and covered with a layer of soil/clay 0.59 feet thick. The area is now a depression, acting as a catch- basin for the upper end of the landfill. The Waste Pit area is fenced with a gate at the entrance.
This region of Ohio has a history of coal mining. Prior to the 1950s, coal was mined from a seam 235-250 feet below and adjacent to the site. The area underlying the Waste Pit and the remainder of the landfill is honeycombed from past deep mining. Mine spoil or gob was removed from these deep mines and disposed of at the site. This mine waste material blankets most of the landfill to depths of up to 100 feet.
Buckeye Reclamation operated as a landfill for mine waste, industrial waste, and household waste. The Belmont County Commissioners own the landfill and it was operated by the Ohio Resources Corporation. Past deep mining operations and disposal occurred on the site, until the early 1950s. Sanitary landfill operations started on nearly 50 acres in 1971. The Belmont County Health Department cited the landfill operators in 1978 and 1979 for receiving industrial wastes. The dumping of industrial sludge and liquid waste occurred from about 1976 through 1979. In 1979, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) identified a leachate problem at the landfill. Approximately 4.7 million gallons of liquid waste and 3,300 tons of solid waste were disposed of in the Waste Pit. The Waste Pit was filled in 1980 with mixed fill material and gob waste and seeded. In addition, there is anecdotal information that plastic bags containing asbestos were buried on the site. The asbestos area is reportedly in the filled area of the landfill, south of the Waste Pit. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA), in 1983, placed Buckeye Reclamation Landfill on the National Priorities List, a list of hazardous waste sites.
Deborah Gray and Tracy Shelley from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) visited the site on April 4, 1990. Abby LaVelle from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) accompanied the ODH individuals to the site. Tracy Shelley and Robert Frey noted during a second site visit on July 20, 1990, that the gate to the Waste Pit was open and landfill workers said that they used the decontamination pad to change equipment tires. Landfill workers were also digging a trench 15-20 feet deep that was only 400-500 feet downgradient from the Waste Pit.
The population within a 2 mile radius of the site is approximately 500 persons. This includes about 15 homes (approximately 30 people) along Willow Grove Road, the town of Neffs, and other residents along Little McMahon Creek, all south of the site. Thirteen people have been employed at the landfill throughout its operation.
Natural Resource Use
The homes south of the landfill use private wells or spring water (Howard Spring) for drinking water (downgradient from the site). This area is also where Kings Run Creek joins Little McMahon Creek (Figure 2, Appendix A). Kings Run and Little McMahon are big enough for fishing and wading, but it is not known to what extent these creeks are used for recreational purposes. These creeks generally have poor water quality and would not be expected to contain a viable fishery.
The Ohio Revised Code 3745-1-13 stream designation for Little McMahon Creek at the confluence with Kings Run is nuisance prevention. Farther downstream, it is classified as warmwater, agricultural, industrial, and primary contact. The Kings Run stream classification is nuisance prevention, agricultural, industrial, and acid mine drainage. Nuisance prevention streams include acid mine streams where plants and animals are substantially degraded. Warmwater habitats are capable of supporting balanced, reproducing populations of aquatic life. Agricultural use designations are suitable for irrigation and livestock watering without treatment. Industrial waters can be used for commercial and industrial uses with or without treatment. This classification can vary depending on the industry involved. Primary contact waters are suitable, during the recreational season, for full body contact.
The site is a former landfill. If reclaimed, it would be possible for the area to be developed for residential, industrial, and recreational uses. Reportedly, off-road motorcyclists have been seen on the site.
There are no health outcome data available which are specific to
this site. The smallest area for which data are available is
Belmont County which would not be relevant for the immediate area
around BRL. Since county level data encompass a much larger
population than those potentially affected in the vicinity of the
site, any health effect would be diluted and statistically
To date, there is very little community concern about the site. The landfill was used by local residents for household waste disposal until it closed in April 1991. According to the Belmont County Health Department, area residents at one time were concerned about groundwater contamination. Concerns were limited to residents that live off Willow Grove Road at the southern toe of the landfill.