Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content




January 23, 1998, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) Region V Emergency Response Team On-Scene Coordinator asked the Site Assessment Section of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to provide a health consultation regarding the analytical results of a sampling of residential wells carried out in a rural portion of Mahoning County, Ohio, on November 6, 1997. This well sampling is part of a US EPA investigation of a natural gas pipeline spill that occurred in the area in 1989. Crude oil was released into a nearby intermittent stream, and residual petroleum remains in stream sediments and hydric soils underlying an adjacent wetlands area. This health consultation was prepared by ODH under cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

The pipeline spill site is about 0.5 miles upstream (south) of an embayment of Berlin Reservoir in a semi-rural portion of Berlin Township, Mahoning County, Ohio (Figure 1). The ruptured pipeline crosses the intermittent stream roughly a thousand feet upstream and south of Leffingwell Road and is used to transport natural gas (Figure 2). Six residential properties are in close proximity to the intermittent stream along the south side of Leffingwell Road and the east side of Bedell Road, west of the stream (Figure 2). The intermittent stream flows north into Mill Creek, a larger stream that flows west into Berlin Reservoir, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water supply reservoir. The surrounding area is of low relief with the stream broadening into a swampy, heavily-vegetated wetlands area south of the Leffingwell Road bridge. The stream begins to incise its channel into the underlying bedrock north of the bridge. The area east of the stream is a public hunting area maintained by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). A number of oil or natural gas production wells and support facilities are on hillsides within a half-mile radius of the spill site.

Local residences rely on private wells for their drinking water supply. Wells in the area are drilled to depths from 60 to over 200 feet and are cased to depths from 25 to 120 feet, tapping a variety of bedrock aquifers. Depth to bedrock in the area is shallow, typically less than 20 feet. The underlying bedrock stratigraphy is complex, consisting of alternating thin impermeable shale units and more permeable, water-bearing sandstone and limestone layers (Shafer-Crowell, 1979; ODNR well logs). In northeastern Ohio, these bedrock aquifers may locally contain elevated levels of iron, manganese, and sulfates (NEDO-OEPA, 1995).

Emergency response action at the time of the spill (November 3, 1989) included use of booms to contain natural gas condensate in the adjacent intermittent stream. Subsequent clean-up events (1991) included removal of 641 tons of petroleum-contaminated soil from either side of the pipeline at the point of the spill (Bart Ray, NEDO-OEPA, pers. comm.). Later sampling events (Ecology & Environment, September 1993; Jen-Tech, September 9 and 10, 1996; NEDO-OEPA, November 1996; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, December 1996 and January 1997; and US EPA, August 6, 1997, and September 18, 1997) indicated the continued presence of residual petroleum in sediments in the bed of the intermittent stream in the vicinity of Leffingwell Road.

Historical Residential Well Sampling Data

The six residential wells in the vicinity of the former spill area have been sampled to various degrees over the past five years by US EPA, the Ohio Evironmental Protection Agency (OEPA), and various environmental consulting companies. The results of these analytical samplings are presented in Appendix A, which is a complete listing of the sampling results for each round of testing, including location of the well sampled, the identity of the agency taking the samples, the date of the sampling, chemicals tested, and the results of each individual sampling round.

17467 Leffingwell Road:
US EPA, OEPA, plus several contractors have sampled the well closest to the spill site [17467 Leffingwell Road] (see Figure 2) for various chemical contaminants a total of nine times since 1993. This well is twenty years old, is drilled to a depth of 83 feet, and is cased to a depth of 60 feet into the underlying shale bedrock (ODNR well log No. 531790).

Ecology & Environment sampled this well for volatile petroleum constituents and lead in September 1993. There were no detects. The Northeast District Office (NEDO) of OEPA sampled the well twice in 1996, testing for a variety of chemicals, including volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs, SVOCs), total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), and metals. No hydrocarbons or other organic compounds were detected. The metals iron and manganese were detected at levels slightly above what is natural for local bedrock aquifers.

Jen-Tec Environmental sampled the well August 6, 1997, analyzing for all chemicals previously tested. The only chemicals detected were TPH at 3.75 parts per million (ppm) and barium at 20 parts per billion (ppb). This sample was split with US EPA who tested for the same set of chemicals. TPH was detected at 0.3 ppm and a variety of metals (iron, manganese, nickel, thallium, and zinc) were detected at levels above US EPA drinking water standards. US EPA staff also noted the turbid nature of the water sampled and the presence of "excess debris" in the well itself.

EnviroMatrix, Inc., sampled "water" from the well August 18, 1997, and September 16, 1997, testing for VOCs, SVOCs, TPH, and mercury. Well water was described as "brown liquid (60%) with grey sediment (40%)" and as "cloudy liquid with slight sediment," respectively. Chemicals detected included TPH up to 265 ppm and mercury at levels of 4.9 - 5.9 ppb.

US EPA resampled the well on September 18, 1997, analyzing the sample for the full set of chemicals. Elevated levels of iron and manganese were detected, but no organic compounds or mercury were found.

17497 Leffingwell Road:
This residence is located next door and west of the 17467 Leffingwell Road property. This well is 185 feet in depth, is cased to a depth 101 feet, and is 25 years old (ODNR well log No. 455813). Previous testing includes a NEDO-OEPA sampling event in the fall of 1996. The full set of chemicals were analyzed. There were no detects. EnviroMatrix sampled the well on September 16, 1997, for organics, TPH, and mercury. Two phthalates that are common lab contaminants were detected at levels of 22 ppb and 62 ppb, TPH was detected at 0.21 ppm, and mercury was detected at 2.6 ppb.

17550 Leffingwell Road:
This residence is directly north of 17497 Leffingwell on the north side of the road (Figure 2). NEDO-OEPA previously sampled the well is the fall of 1996 and found no chemical contamination.

8003 Bedell Road:
This residence is along the east side of Bedell Road and abuts the unnamed intermittent stream (Figure 2). NEDO-OEPA sampled the well in the fall of 1996 and found only iron and manganese at levels typical of local bedrock aquifers.

7949 Bedell Road:
This residence is directly north of and adjacent to the 8003 Bedell Road property. NEDO-OEPA sampled the well in the fall of 1996 and found only iron and manganese at levels typical of local bedrock aquifers.


US EPA staff sampled six residential wells in the vicinity of the Leffingwell Road Pipeline Spill site on November 6, 1997. Well water was tested for VOCs, SVOCs, some pesticides, total PCBs, TPH, total metals, and dissolved metals. NEDO-OEPA staff took well water samples from the same six residences at the same time. The results of both samplings are discussed to provide a comparison.

17467 Leffingwell Road
Samples were taken of both "turbid" and more or less "clear" water samples. "Turbid" water samples had low levels of chloroform, TPH, and a variety of metals (aluminum, arsenic, beryllium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, and zinc) at levels above US EPA drinking water standards. However, dissolved metals detected consisted only of elevated levels of iron and manganese.

"Clear" water samples from this well also had detects of low levels of chloroform and elevated levels of several metals (aluminum, iron, manganese, and nickel) exceeding drinking water standards. Dissolved metals detected in this sample included only elevated levels of manganese.

The OEPA sample contained low levels of chloroform and TPH, elevated levels of aluminum, iron, nickel, and manganese, exceeding drinking water standards, and low levels of additional metals that did not exceed drinking water standards (arsenic, barium, copper, lead, and zinc).

17497 Leffingwell Road
No chemicals were present in this well.

Low levels of barium, lead, and zinc that did not exceed drinking water standards were found.

17550 Leffingwell Road
Detects included low levels of the SVOC di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, low levels of copper, and highly elevated levels of lead in both samples taken (609 ppb and 76.7 ppb) both of which exceed US EPA Removal Action Level [RAL = 15 ppb]. Dissolved levels of lead also exceeded the US EPA Removal Action value (139 ppb and 134 ppb).

The OEPA sample, taken after the two US EPA samples, had only low levels (<20 ppb) of the metals barium, chromium and lead (2.8 ppb) that did not exceed drinking water standards.

17527 Leffingwell Road
Detects included low levels of the SVOC di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, TPH, and the metals iron and zinc, none exceeding drinking water standards.

The OEPA sample contained low levels of the metals barium, iron, and zinc, none exceeding drinking water standards.

8003 Bedell Road
The only detects were low levels of the metals copper, iron, lead, manganese, and zinc.

The only detects were low levels of the metals barium, copper, iron, lead, and manganese.

7979 Bedell Road
The only detects were iron and manganese at background levels.

Low levels of the herbicide Simazine (0.94 ppb) and low levels of the metals barium, chromium, iron, and manganese, non exceeding US EPA drinking water standards, were found.

Next Section      Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #