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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

ALGOMA MUNICIPAL LANDFILL
ALGOMA, KEWAUNEE COUNTY, WISCONSIN


SUMMARY

The Algoma Landfill Superfund Site is a former municipal landfill which accepted hazardous industrial waste from several area companies. The contaminant of concern is benzene in on-site groundwater. Samples taken from off-site private water supplies in the vicinity of the landfill did not indicate the presence of contaminants. On-site soil and sediment samples revealed low levels of inorganic chemicals. Off-site soil and sediment samples indicate that there has not been a transport of contaminants from the landfill. Although soil samples were not analyzed for asbestos it remains a contaminant of concern since asbestos-containing debris was reportedly buried at the site.

The Algoma Landfill Superfund Site is a indeterminate public health hazard. While the available information indicates that human exposure to contaminants from the landfill has not occurred at levels likely to cause adverse health effects, data on surface soil contamination are insufficient to evaluate the potential for human exposure. There is insufficient data to evaluate worker exposure to airborne asbestos in the past when Kalo dust was deposited at the site.

The Wisconsin Division of Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) evaluated the information about this site to determine if additional follow up health activities are appropriate. Since human exposure to contaminants is not likely to have occurred at the Algoma City Landfill, no additional health activities are needed at the site. The Wisconsin Division of Health and ATSDR will reevaluate the site for additional health activities if high levels of contamination are released when the site is cleaned up or if new information shows that public exposure is greater than expected.

This public health assessment recommends that access to the site be restricted to prevent trespassing and disturbance of the soil. Additional groundwater monitoring and characterization is recommended as well as sampling of surface soil for asbestos contamination.


BACKGROUND

Site Description and History

The Algoma Landfill occupies approximately 13 acres in Ahnapee, Wisconsin. The site is located approximately 3 miles southwest of the City of Algoma, near state highway 54, in northeastern Kewaunee County. The site is located in a former quarry pit, and has been elevated up to 32 feet above the surrounding terrain. In 1969, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) licensed 10 acres as a landfill for the City of Algoma. There are also several fill areas located outside the licensed Landfill Disposal Area consisting of: the North Disposal Area, a depression west of the haul road to the north of the Landfill Disposal Area; the Animal Disposal Area, a pit located to the west of the Landfill Disposal Area; and the South Disposal Area, a small valley to the south-southwest of the Landfill Disposal Area. (See Appendix A)

In 1969, Algoma and surrounding communities began using the landfill for municipal and industrial-waste disposal. The solid-waste disposal license indicates that the landfill accepted dead animals, paint, and lacquers. In May 1971, the landfill license indicated that a "separate pit" had been dug for the disposal of dead animals, paint, and lacquer wastes. Upon deposit, these items were covered with construction debris and asbestos containing "kalo dust" which was used in the manufacturing of fire doors. In 1974, the WDNR requested a plan of landfill operation, to include a wet system for the disposal of asbestos dust. In February 1978, the WDNR noted that the use of asbestos-containing material as cover violated licensed operating procedures. In June of 1980, the WDNR denied a request by the city to expand landfill operations and stated that the existing landfill violated state landfill regulations. In October 1980, the WDNR required soil borings and the placement of monitoring wells at the landfill. In October 1982, the city submitted a site abandonment plan to the WDNR. In June 1983, the WDNR approved the abandonment plan and the site was closed and capped according to WDNR regulations.

In 1984, Ecology and the Environment, a contractor for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), collected water samples from six monitoring wells. Samples at two of the wells contained the following contaminants: arsenic, cadmium, copper, and several volatile organic compounds. In January 1986, the USEPA proposed the Algoma Landfill site to the National Priorities List (NPL). In July 1987, the Algoma Landfill was listed on the NPL. In 1988, under a consent order with the USEPA, the Potentially Responsible Party(s) (PRP) engaged a contractor to prepare the remedial investigation report (RI) for the Algoma Landfill site. The RI was completed in May 1990.

The Record of Decision (ROD) for this site was signed by the Region V Administrator for the USEPA, on September 29, 1990. The final remedy addresses protection of ground water and exposure to soil contamination by reducing risks posed by the site through engineering and institutional controls. This includes:

  • A soil/clay cover in compliance with state landfill laws.

  • After further characterization of wastes, place soil covers over the North and South Disposal Areas.

  • Installation of additional ground-water monitoring wells upgradient to and downgradient of the site.

  • Fencing the site, obtaining access rights to the areas adjacent to the site, and placing deed restrictions on all fill areas.

Site Visit

A site visit was conducted on June 29, 1988, by a representative from the Wisconsin Division of Health, officials from the City of Algoma, and a public health nurse for Kewaunee County.

State Highway 54 runs north of the landfill site. Access to the site is presently unrestricted. The main entrance is a service road directly off of State Highway 54. It was learned that the gravel-pit operation maintains the road, which borders the western edge of the landfill. While widening this road the site's cap had sustained damage. Evidence of this disruption was still apparent during the site visit. There was no visible landfill waste where the cap had been disturbed.

The site was again visited on August 13, 1990, by a representative from the Wisconsin Division of Health. Conditions at the site had not changed since the June 29, 1988 site visit.

Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The site is located in a predominantly agricultural setting. The area to the east of the site is used as cropland. An active gravel quarry is located directly to the west. The gravel pit operation has a road bordering the western edge of the landfill. The nearest homes, consisting of rural lots and farmhouses, are located within 1/2 mile of the site. The population within a 1 mile radius of the site is estimated at 180, all on private water supplies. The distance from the site to the nearest residence (private water supply) is approximately 1,100 feet.

Krohn's Lake, which is used for recreation, is located less than 1 mile south of the landfill. Lake Michigan lies within 3 miles to the southeast of the landfill. At one time a depression to the south of the landfill was used as a shooting range by area residents. The south-southeast area is a wetland area which may be visited by an occasional hunter or hiker. Land to the east of the landfill is used for agriculture, i.e., growing alfalfa.

There are no known sensitive or susceptible subpopulations in the vicinity of the Algoma Landfill Site.

Health Outcome Data

"Health outcome data" is a phrase referring to records of death and disease. When there is evidence that people near a site have been exposed to contaminants at levels that could lead to an increase in rates of death or disease, a review of health outcome data may be appropriate. A review also may be appropriate if there are reports of unusual clusters of diseases near a site. There is no evidence of public exposure to chemicals from the Algoma Landfill, and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services is not aware of any reports of clusters of chronic disease near this site.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

A representative of the Wisconsin Division of Health attended public meetings in the City of Algoma on June 29, 1988, and August 13, 1990 to listen to and discuss community health concerns. No health concerns were expressed at either of the meetings. Also, no health complaints or disease clusters attributable to the site had been reported to the Kewaunee County public health nurse. The health assessment was distributed for public comment in March 1992, and no comments were received.


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

The remedial investigation report included the following major components: A land survey; a geophysical survey of the landfill; collection of 15 soil and sediment samples near the landfill for chemical and physical analysis; collection of surface-water samples at three locations; installation of six new observation wells; in-situ permeability tests at the new wells; installation of a surface-water staff gauge; two rounds of ground-water sampling from the six new and four existing wells; two rounds of sampling from existing potable water wells at five private residences up and downgradient of the landfill; measurement of ground-water and surface-water elevation; and collection of 11 samples of cover materials on the landfill and at the two disposal sites adjacent to the landfill.

On-Site Contamination

Soil and Sediment

Soil and sediment samples were collected in two phases from April 17-19, 1989. The first phase involved the field screening of samples for VOCs. The second phase involved the collection of samples for laboratory analysis.

Methods

A total of 15 soil samples were collected at 15 different locations at the Algoma Landfill. The samples were collected at a depth of 0.5 to 1.0 feet deep at 13 different locations and from 1.0 to 1.5 feet at two locations. No samples were collected of surface soil. Three samples of bottom stream sediments were also collected. All three samples were field screened for VOCs using an Hnu photoionization detector and field gas chromatograph. Three samples were analyzed at the laboratory for VOCs, acid/base/neutral (A/B/N), pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and inorganic chemicals.

Findings

No organic chemicals of public health concern were identified in the soil and sediment testing completed. Asbestos, an assumed waste at this site, was not tested for in soil samples.

Surface Water

Methods

Three surface water samples and a duplicate sample at site SW-1 were collected on April 19, 1989. A one liter plastic bottle was used to transfer the sample from flowing water to the lab sample bottle for all parameters except VOC's. The VOC samples were collected by submersing collection vials in the stream. All the samples were labeled, cooled, and shipped to the laboratory on the same day as collected.

The Algoma Landfill is located at the headwaters of a small creek, therefore no background surface water sample could be collected. As a result, the mean concentration of metals in nearby surface water were calculated through a data base maintained by the United States Geological Service, Wisconsin District.

Findings

The results of the surface water sampling indicate that there has not been a release of contaminants from the Algoma Landfill to surface water.

Groundwater

The first round of ground-water samples from the monitoring wells was collected between January 30 and February 1, 1989 and the second round of samples was collected between April 7-19, 1989. The samples were collected at 10 monitoring wells and 5 private wells. Stainless steel bailers were used for purging and sampling all monitoring wells except OW-11 and OW-12 which were purged with a submersible pump. Private well water samples were collected at faucet.

Findings

Benzene was the only contaminant of public health concern identified in groundwater.

In 1984, during a preliminary assessment of the site, Ecology and the Environment conducted groundwater monitoring which detected 3.9 ug/L benzene. This exceeded the existing Wisconsin Groundwater Enforcement Standard (WGWES) of .67 ug/L. In 1990, the WGWES was changed to conform with the EPA's Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 5 ug/L.

During the most recent testing, conducted as part of the remedial investigation, benzene was detected at ranges of 0.3 - 2 ug/L. The lowest level detected was 0.2 ug/L at monitoring well OW-10 located southeast of the Landfill Disposal Area (See Appendix B). The highest level detected was 2 ug/L at monitoring well OW-5R located to the southeast of the Landfill Disposal Area in proximity to well OW-9. While this level does not exceed the current WGWES of 5 ug/L, it does exceed the Wisconsin Preventive Action Limit (WPAL) of .5 ug/L. This level is used to indicate the potential for adverse public health consequences from a chemical in ground water. Typically it is 10% of the WGWES.

All of the positive benzene samples, with the exception of one, were at monitoring wells located to the southeast of the Landfill Disposal Area. i.e., in the direction of ground-water flow. The only positive sample outside this area was at monitoring well OW-14, located northwest of the Landfill Disposal area near State HY 54.

Several inorganic chemicals were detected in the groundwater samples. These included antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, lead, and cyanide. None of the inorganic chemicals detected were at a level to be considered to be of public health concern.

Note: The ground water sampling referred to took place during drought conditions. The further release of benzene and possibly other contaminants to ground water may occur or have occurred since the sampling took place as normal precipitation patterns returned.

Off-Site Contamination

Environmental testing did not indicate the presence of chemicals presenting a public health concern.

Quality Assurance and Quality Control

The conclusions drawn for this health assessment were determined by the availability and reliability of the referenced information, and it is assumed that adequate quality assurance and quality control measures were followed with regard to chain of custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting.

Toxic Chemical Release Inventory

After reviewing the Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI), site-specific information for the Algoma Landfill Site, no additional sources of environmental contaminants were identified.

Physical and other Hazards

No physical or other hazards were noted at the site.


PATHWAY ANALYSES

Environmental Pathways

Potential environmental pathways at the Algoma Landfill Site include groundwater and air.

The Algoma Landfill is located on a moraine, i.e., glacial debris comprised of sand and gravel. Unconsolidated gravel deposits to the southeast of the landfill have an average thickness of 135 feet and overlie Niagara dolomite. In the northern part of the site, the landfill lies on at least 15 feet of silty clay. The remainder of the site lies directly over layers of poorly to well graded sand and gravel deposits which extend to the Niagara dolomite bedrock at a depth of over 120 feet.

The topography of the landfill is comprised of low knolls and shallow, landlocked depressions separated by winding ravines. Land north of the landfill slopes gently toward Silver Creek, also located north of the landfill. Flat, wet lowlands are located to the east-southeast and northwest of the Algoma Landfill. Highlands (>750 feet above sea level) comprised of glacial moraines are located to the south and southwest.

The water table shows ground water to be high to the west of the site where several gravel pits are located with radial flow away from this area. A 1983 water table map prepared for the WDNR, indicates that the direction of groundwater flow is to the east-southeast.

The aquifer is moderately permeable with a ground water velocity estimated at 50 feet/year. Ground water flow is away from the homes nearest the site. However, homes downgradient from the site could be affected by benzene-contaminated ground water. The closest homes are approximately 2,500 feet from the Algoma Landfill. This means it would be approximately 50 years before these homes are likely to be affected. However, if the aquifer has fissured bedrock or some other geological characteristic that would allow the rapid movement of ground water private wells could be affected sooner. It is also likely that the concentration of benzene would be diluted as the ground water moves the contaminant away from the site.

Surface water quality could be affected by the discharge of benzene contaminated ground water to area streams or lakes.

Air should be considered as a potential environmental pathway if the site's clay cap is damaged through either inadvertent disturbances, such as quarrying activities adjacent to the site or planned disturbances, such as remediation. This could result in the release of asbestos-contaminated soil and dust into the ambient air. Air could also serve as a pathway for benzene, which will readily volatilizes under normal atmospheric pressure.

Human Exposure Pathways

There is no evidence of current exposure to contaminants at the site. In the past, landfill workers may have been exposed to asbestos-containing Kalo dust. It is not possible to estimate past exposure doses.

Potential human exposure pathways include: inhalation of asbestos dust; vapors from the volatilization of benzene from contaminated ground water; ingestion of benzene-contaminated ground water and surface water; and dermal contact with benzene-contaminated ground water and surface water. Those at risk would be trespassers or workers on the site and area residents in the path of the contaminated ground-water plume.

Because the site is accessible, it is possible that hunters, snowmobilers (little snow, worn trail), or other recreational users could be exposed to contaminated soils. Because the site has a well vegetated cap with little evidence of erosion, the risk of exposure to contaminants in the landfill is low.


PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

Toxicological Evaluation

The contaminants of health concern at this site are benzene and asbestos.

Benzene

Benzene is a contaminant of concern in ground water.There is no evidence of past or current exposure to benzene. If benzene were to reach private residential wells in future, people could be exposed to the chemical in drinking water, indoor air, and dermal absorption. Even if the concentration of benzene in household tap water were at the highest level found in ground water on-site during the remedial investigation, the maximum likely total dose of benzene individuals would receive through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption would be less than 0.2 ug/Kg/day. At this level of exposure, there would be no apparent increase in cancer risk. No other health effects would be expected at this level of exposure. The USEPA classifies benzene as a Group A, known human carcinogen. Benzene is known to cause leukemia in humans (Toxicological Profile for Benzene).

Asbestos

A contaminant that is reportedly present in the waste at this landfill is asbestos. Release of asbestos to the ambient air may have occurred in the past when Kalo dust was deposited at the site. It also could occur in the future through disturbances of the site, such as remedial activities.

Asbestos is a public health concern when it becomes airborne and is inhaled. It is a known human carcinogen capable of causing a rare cancerous tumor called "mesothelioma". At this time the scientific community has not established a threshold limit value (TLV) or "safe level" of exposure for asbestos. The present standards of .2 fibers/cm3 of air, enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were developed to protect workers against the obstructive pulmonary disease, asbestosis, not lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Since remedial activities are taking place outdoors, if asbestos is disturbed it is unlikely that the duration of exposure would be significant because of the diluting affect of ambient air. However, there may be episodes of "peak" exposure to workers, ie., intense exposure to a high concentration of asbestos fibers for a short period of time, such as 5-10 minutes (Toxicological Profile for Asbestos).

Health Outcome Data Evaluation

An evaluation of health outcome data was not conducted because 1) there is no evidence of human exposure to chemicals from the landfill at levels that could cause adverse health effects, and 2) the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services is not aware of any reports of clusters of chronic disease or community health concerns near this site.

Community Health Concerns Evaluation

No health concerns or complaints have been received in relation to this site, therefore, an evaluation of community health concerns was not conducted.


CONCLUSIONS

  1. The Algoma Landfill Site is of indeterminate public health hazard. While the available information indicates that human exposure to contaminants from the landfill has not occurred at levels likely to cause adverse health effects, data on surface soil contamination are insufficient to evaluate the potential for human exposure. There also are insufficient data to evaluate worker exposure to airborne asbestos in the past when Kalo dust was deposited at the site.

  2. The benzene-contaminated groundwater appears to be isolated to the southern end of the landfill site, with the plume moving in a southeasterly direction. In the future, this could impact private wells located in the plume's path.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Public access to the Algoma Landfill Site should be restricted to prevent trespassing and disturbance of the site.

  2. The monitoring of ground water around the perimeter of the site should continue. Additional monitoring wells should be installed downgradient of existing wells where contamination has already been documented so that contaminants can be detected before they would affect residential well water.

  3. Surface soil should be bulk sampled at several locations to determine if asbestos, reportedly disposed of at this site, is present above background levels.

Need for Follow-up Health Activities

The Wisconsin Division of Health and ATSDR evaluated the information about this site to determine if additional follow up health activities are appropriate. Since human exposure to contaminants is not likely to have occurred at the Algoma City Landfill, no additional health activities are needed at the site. The Wisconsin Division of Health and ATSDR will reevaluate the site for additional health activities if high levels of contamination are released when the site is cleaned up or if new information shows that public exposure is greater than expected.


PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION

The recommendations provided in the Health Assessment are related to the prevention and monitoring of possible human exposure to contaminants from Algoma Municipal Landfill. The following actions either have been or will be performed to meet the needs expressed by the recommendations of this Health Assessment. The Wisconsin Division of Health will:

  1. Offer recommendations to the U.S. EPA, as designated in this Health Assessment, which, when implemented, will reduce the possible exposure to persons working and/or residing in the vicinity of the site;

  2. Provide continuing health education as new information becomes available pertaining to public health issues of the site;

  3. Solicit health concerns of Algoma area residents directly or through agency contacts with the Kewaunee County Health Department;

  4. Continue to cooperate with the Kewaunee County Health Department to address environmental health issues that pertain to the site and the community as they are brought to the attention of the DOH by the local public health agency;

  5. Offer education opportunities to practicing health care providers in the Algoma area through the Wisconsin DOH/ATSDR professional education program.

The U.S. EPA (proposed cleanup plan 9/90) will implement source controls of the Algoma Municipal Landfill site by the following actions:

  1. A soil/clay cover in compliance with the Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 504.07 performance standards for the Landfill Disposal Area (LDA).

  2. Extension of a soil cover over the North Disposal Area (NDA) and South Disposal Area (SDA) if warranted by further characterization of the wastes there during the Remedial Design.

  3. Installation of additional ground water monitoring wells adjacent to and downgradient of the site.

  4. Fencing the site, obtaining access rights to the areas adjacent to the site, and placing deed restrictions on all fill areas.

PREPARERS OF REPORT

William H. Otto
Public Health Educator, Supervisor
Section of Environmental and Chronic Disease Epidemiology
Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services


ATSDR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES

Louise Fabinski, Region V
Regional Services, Office of the Assistant Administrator

Manna Edwards, Region V
Regional Services, Office of the Assistant Administrator


ATSDR TECHNICAL PROJECT OFFICER

William Greim
State Programs Section, Remedial Program Branch
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation


CERTIFICATION

This Public Health Assessment was prepared by the Wisconsin Division of Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was initiated.

William Greim
Technical Project Officer, SPS, RPB, DHAC


The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this Public Health Assessment and concurs with its findings.

Director, DHAC, ATSDR


REFERENCES

Remedial Investigation For The Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study, Volume I of I, Algoma Landfill, Algoma, WI, February, 1990. Prepared by Residuals Management Technology, Madison, WI.

Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual, March 1992, US Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Preliminary Health Assessment, Algoma Landfill Site, Algoma, WI. Prepared by Health Hazard Evaluation Unit, Section of Environmental and Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Bureau of Community Health and Prevention, Division of Health, Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services. September 1, 1988.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Asbestos. Atlanta, Georgia: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, December 1990; DHHS publication no. ATSDR/TP-90-04.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Draft for Public Comment, Update Toxicological Profile for Benzene. Atlanta, Georgia. February 18, 1992.


APPENDICES

Site Location Map
Appendix A. Site location map.

Sampling Locations
Appendix B. Sampling locations.


Table of Contents

  
 
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