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

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

REFUSE HIDEAWAY
MIDDLETON, DANE COUNTY, WISCONSIN


SUMMARY

Refuse Hideaway Landfill is a former landfill located in the Town of Middleton, west of theCity of Middleton, in Dane County, Wisconsin. When in operation, from 1974 to 1988, theSuperfund site received a variety of municipal, commercial, and industrial wastes.

Groundwater around the site is contaminated with low levels of volatile organic compounds(VOCs), which probably originate from the site. VOC contamination was first detected in 1988at three private wells located approximately 3,000 feet southwest of the site. These wellsprovided water for three homes and an agricultural business. A Point-of-Entry water filtrationsystem was installed at two of these wells in 1990 and the system removes all measurable VOCcontamination. The third well provided water for a home and private business. This home wasvacated in late 1989 and is currently unoccupied. An employee at the business reported, in1992, the well is no longer used.

Refuse Hideaway Landfill currently poses no apparent public health hazard to nearby residentswho obtain their drinking water from private wells. Approximately eight nearby residents andthree employees of the agriculture business were evidently exposed to low-levels of VOCs intheir well water. It is estimated no individual was exposed to contaminated groundwater formore than four years. Despite these exposures, adverse health effects are not expected in peoplewho were exposed for such a length of time.

No other nearby private wells are identified as contaminated by the site. Refuse HideawayLandfill might pose a future public health hazard to nearby residents if no actions were taken toclean-up the site. Groundwater samples collected from monitoring wells immediately aroundthe site reveal high levels of certain VOCs. If existing on-site control measures have anegligible effect, higher levels of groundwater contamination might migrate away from the siteand reach currently uncontaminated wells.

Refuse Hideaway Landfill is an indeterminate public health hazard to workers at an adjacentsand and gravel business. In 1990 explosive levels of gas were detected twice in a building atthe business and the corrective action was taken to eliminated this potential physical hazard. The gas in the building is suspected to have come from the site, yet it is possible the gas camefrom another source. Landfill gas at the site contains VOCs. If gas in the building came fromthe landfill then those who worked there may have breathed indoor air contaminated with VOCs. No indoor air samples were collected from the building and analyzed for VOCs. This representsa data gap. Estimates of worker exposure, based on several assumptions, indicate workers arenot likely to have any adverse health effects.


BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

Description

      Refuse Hideaway Landfill (the Superfund site) is located in the SW¼ of the NW¼ ofSection 8, T7N, R8E, at 7812 Highway 14, in the Town of Middleton, Dane County, Stateof Wisconsin (Figure 1). Refuse Hideaway is approximately two miles west of the City ofMiddleton and is approximately four miles east of the Village of Cross Plains. Thisformer landfill is 23 acres in size and is located on a 40-acre property parcel (Figure 2). The site is situated north of Black Earth Creek [14, P20] and is found in the upper BlackEarth Creek watershed. Black Earth Creek is rated as a class I trout stream.

History

      Refuse Hideaway, Inc., operated the landfill, which received approximately 1.2 millioncubic yards of municipal, commercial and industrial waste from 1974 till 1988 [57]. In1974, Refuse Hideaway Landfill was licensed by the DNR to receive commercial,municipal, and industrial wastes [53, p1-1]. The landfill owner reported receiving a varietyof commercial and industrial waste, including: barrels of glue and paint; barrels of ink andink washes; spray paint booth by-products and paint stripper sludge; spill residuescontaining methylene chloride and acetone; and other organic solvents [57]. A liner wasnot installed in the landfill to function as a barrier underneath the waste materials [14, p20].

      In 1986, as the landfill neared its capacity, preparatory work was initiated to shut downoperations at the site. The presence of leachate seeps in 1986 and operational problems atthe site prompted the DNR to begin regulatory actions against the owner [33]. In 1988 theDNR found contamination of groundwater around the site (Table 2) and nearby privatewells. A January 1988 report evaluating site conditions concluded the nearby groundwatercontamination probably came from the site [14, p9]. A follow-up sampling program wasimmediately initiated.

      The DNR issued an order in May 1988 requiring Refuse Hideaway, Inc., to stop receivingwaste, to close and cap the landfill, to investigate the full extent of contamination, andrecommend any necessary remedial measures [53, p1-1]. The 1988 Remedial ActionReport, published by RMT, supported the earlier conclusion that nearby groundwatercontamination probably came from the site. This report also concluded the extent ofnearby groundwater contamination was much greater than previously suspected [53, p2-6]. The owner closed and capped the site according to Wisconsin Administrative Codes in late1988. Then the owner conducted several investigations and actions, but did not enact allthe clean-up actions requested by the DNR [33, p4]. A groundwater investigation wasconducted in 1990 and 1991 by a DNR contractor to find out the extent of off-sitegroundwater contamination around Refuse Hideaway (Tables 3 and 4) [46].

      One private well near the site (PW-2) was sampled for VOCs once in 1986 and nocontamination was found [19]. Eight other private wells were sampled in January 1988,and VOC contamination was found in a water sample collected from one home (PW-1)southwest of the site [15].

      Private wells were again sampled near Refuse Hideaway in January and March 1988 and itwas learned there were three private wells, located approximately one-half mile southwestof the site, that were contaminated, and the contamination was probably site-related. These private wells were contaminated with several VOCs (Table 6) and served eightpeople. One of these private wells (PW-3) also provided water for three employees of asmall agricultural business. Several VOCs detected in the private wells were at levelsabove the Wisconsin Public Health Groundwater Quality Enforcement Standard [53, p1-1][69]. The November 1988 Remedial Action Report concluded the site was the probablesource of the private well contamination [53, p7-1]. In March 1988 low levels of twotrihalomethanes were detected in a private water supply south of the site. Thiscontamination is probably not site-related [22]. In November 1989, the DNR collectedwater samples from all private wells located within one-mile of the site. The results fromthis sampling did not reveal contamination in any other private wells.

      A supply of bottled drinking water was provided to the three households and the businesswith contaminated water in early 1988, however residents and employees continued to usecontaminated water for other domestic purposes [15]. In October 1988 representatives ofthe Wisconsin Division of Health (DOH) talked to these people about ways to reduce theirdermal and inhalation exposure to contaminants. The household sharing the well with thebusiness (PW-3) was vacated by the tenant in late 1989, and the owner did not rent out thehome. One employee at the business reported in 1992 that well water is no longer used. In 1989 the DNR installed a carbon-activated filtration system in the other two homes toclean their drinking water [62, p1-3]. Testing of post filter samples showed the system didnot adequately remove all contamination [26]. This system was replaced by the DNR inMay 1990 with a larger Point-of-Entry (POE) water filtration system [29]. A regularmonitoring program has shown the POE system effectively removes all detectable VOCs. In July 1992 the DNR transferred the POE system ownership, maintenance, andmonitoring responsibilities to the homeowners. These POE treatment systems becamepermanent water systems with the transference of ownership [36]. Bottled water continuesis still provided by DNR to the offices of the seed company.

      In dealing with the landfill, the DNR determined in 1990 that surface water was erodingthe cap. A DNR contractor installed several ditch checks on the cap in July 1990 to reduceerosion [30]. Despite these actions erosion of the cap continued. Additional erosioncontrol efforts were completed by the DNR in Fall 1992.

      The level of landfill gas production from the site was much higher than originallyestimated when Refuse Hideaway was first designed and opened. Landfill gas couldpotentially migrate away from the site and possibly cause an explosive hazard in nearbybuildings [27]. In December 1989 a partial landfill gas and leachate extraction system wasinstalled at Refuse Hideaway landfill. On two different dates in 1990 an explosive level oflandfill gas was detected in a building on the landfill property. Private homes have notbeen threatened by landfill gas. The situation was corrected by a minor renovation to thebuilding (see page 18). A full gas and leachate extraction system became operational inAugust 1991 [34]. This system includes extraction wells, connective piping, a gas blower,a gas flaring device, leachate pumps, and a leachate storage tank [30]. The gas flaringdevice was designed to burn up to 650 cubic feet per minute of gas. In 1992 the devicetypically burned approximately 400 cubic feet per minute of gas [30]. At the time of aDOH site visit in 1992 over 30,000 gallons of leachate per month were removed from thesite [34], and one year later the system was extracting between 10,000 and 15,000 gallonsper month, which suggest the cap is effective in reducing leachate production. Landfillgas is no longer detected by gas probes around the site, which suggests the gas extractionsystem reduces gas levels.

      Refuse Hideaway Landfill was proposed for nomination to the National Priorities List(NPL) in August 1991 [33]. The U.S. EPA officially placed Refuse Hideaway on the NPLon October 14, 1992. There has not been previous involvement by ATSDR in mattersrelating to Refuse Hideaway Landfill.

Geology

      The site is located in the glaciated Black Earth Creek valley. The unconsolidated depositsin the valley are of glacial origin and consist of till, outwash, and glacial lake sediments[57]. Black Earth Creek once drained glacial meltwater [14, p20]. Gravel and sand make upmost of the deep sediments found in the Black Earth Creek valley, with much thinnerglacial deposits found on rocky ridges of exposed bedrock [57]. The thickness of theseglacial deposits around the site vary widely. South of the site deposits are over 100 feetdeep. Northwest of the site on the ridge deposits are less than 5 feet thick [33, p2].

      Bedrock ridges sit high and are exposed north of the site. The bedrock is made up ofsandstones overlaid by dolomite [57]. The depth to bedrock slopes steeply to the south ofthe site [33, p2]. A high degree of bedrock fracturing has been found at various locationsaround the site [53, p5-4]. The fractures apparently provide a quick route for contaminantsto leave the site and enter the sandstone bedrock underlying the site. Groundwater andcontaminants move relatively quickly through the bedrock and enter the sand and graveldeposits of the valley southwest of the landfill. However, none of the site-relatedhydrogeologic reports estimate the rate of groundwater movement through fractures in thebedrock.

      Two of the contaminated private wells (PW-1 & PW-3) are 77 feet and 25 feet deep,respectively, and draw water from sand and gravel deposits. The third private well (PW-2)is 181 feet deep and draws water from the contaminated sandstone bedrock.

      Groundwater close to the site generally moves to the southwest, toward the Black EarthCreek Valley. Once groundwater approaches Black Earth Creek it follows the regionalflow pattern. However, groundwater at the site disperses in a radial pattern. It is thoughtthe groundwater mounding causes this radial flow pattern [33, p3] [46, p7-1]. South of thesite, the water table is between 5 to 15 feet below the surface of the ground [14, p25].

B. Site Visit

Two DOH representatives, Henry Nehls-Lowe and Mary Young, visited the site on July 1, 1992[40] with Terry Evanson, the DNR Project Manager. From State Highway 14 the site appears asa grass covered and mounded hill, nestled up against a ridge running north of the site. Approaching the site from Highway 14 a small catchment basin was seen south of the sand andgravel business. This catchment receives runoff from the entire site. The Project Managerstated this basin is inadequate to handle the large volume of runoff that runs from the site duringheavy rains. Testing of surface water collected from this basin, as described in the 1988Remedial Action report, did show some contamination, but it is difficult to pinpoint the source. When the landfill was operational, leachate from the site may have entered this basin [53].

To reach the site from the east via the access road, one must pass through the operations of aprivate sand and gravel company, which rents the property from the landfill owner. Thisproperty is an operational base and for storing equipment. No quarrying activities occur on thelandfill property.

Near the eastern edge of the Superfund site is a fenced area where landfill gas flaring occurs. Access to this compound is restricted by a locked gate. The flaring facility was installed in July1991 and was operating during the site visit. Landfill gas is collected from extraction wells inthe site connected by a system of pipes that converge at the flaring device. The flaring deviceburns landfill gas at approximately 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Flare stack emissions aremonitored and meet Wisconsin emission guidelines.

Outside the flaring compound is the leachate pumping station. Similar to the landfill gascollection system, leachate pumped from wells at the site flows into underground pipes, whichconverge at the collection station. Leachate is regularly hauled away by tanker truck. Automatic alarm systems on the leachate collection system and the flaring device automaticallyalert the contractor by telephone when either system is overloaded or not operational.

Leachate and landfill gas extraction wells were observed on the site. Riprap is in drainage areasof the cap and locations where cap erosion has occurred or is threatened. At a few locationswaste material (including medical waste) was seen protruding or lying on the surface of the cap. The smell of landfill gas was noted at one location on the site. Surface soil around the site ismainly sand and gravel. Exposed limestone/sandstone outcroppings were seen around the site.

The site is not fenced, however the access road is gated and locked. There was no evidence oftrespassing. Some individuals reportedly had a number of unauthorized entries onto the sitewhen it was open and receiving waste. There were no obvious physical hazards seen at the siteduring the visit. Heavily wooded and steep terrain west and north of the site would discouragepeople from coming onto the site from those directions. The Project Manager said she hasobserved turkey and deer tracks on the landfill property.

Homes are at least one-quarter mile from the site. There are approximately 53 homes within onemile of the site. Farming occurs mostly south of the site in the Black Earth Creek valley. Cornwas the predominant crop seen growing at the time of the visit. Farm animals were not observedat the farms located around the site. An inactive dairy farm is approximately 1,000 feet south ofHighway 14 and approximately 4,000 feet southwest of the site.

The Project Manager pointed out the three private homes and business southwest of the site thathave contaminated wells (there are no other private wells with site-related contamination). Thetwo nearest homes with contaminated water are approximately 2,000 feet from the site and onthe north side of Highway 14. The third contaminated private well is found at a house another500 feet west of these homes. An employee at the business stated the water from the well is nolonger used. This rental property is part of a seed farm that is south of Highway 14. Theinactive dairy farm is 1,000 feet south of the seed farm. Black Earth Creek traverses the seedfarm property. Monitoring well P-31 is located near the bank of Black Earth Creek. Well P-31is 3,500 feet from the site and is the furthest detected point of groundwater contamination.

One mile west-southwest of the site is Deer Run Heights. This neighborhood has 25 homes andall obtain water from private wells. There are an estimated 80 people living here. None of theseprivate wells have shown signs of groundwater contamination, but the neighborhood is in theapparent path of the contaminant plume coming from the site. The DNR tests a selection ofthese private wells for contamination on an annual basis. Half the wells are tested during onesix-month cycle, and the remaining wells are tested during the second six-month cycle. Peopleliving in this neighborhood are middle to upper-middle class, and the homes have been builtwithin the last 20-25 years.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The area surrounding Refuse Hideaway landfill is rural and predominantly agricultural. Cornand soybeans are grown in the Black Earth Creek valley to the east and south of the site. Thereare many small-scale dairy farms in the Black Earth Creek valley, with an inactive farm locatedabout one mile southwest of the site. Approximately one-half mile north-northwest of the site isa tree farm. A seed farm (PW-3) is on Highway 14 and 2,500 feet southwest of the site. On thelandfill property and to the immediate east of the site is an office, storage and staging area for asand and gravel company. No quarrying activities are performed on or next to the landfillproperty. A number of active quarries are located in the vicinity of the site. Local residentsreported hearing blasting from some quarries [14, p20].

There are many private homes in the area of Refuse Hideaway Landfill. There are 25 homes inthe Deer Run Heights neighborhood and residents report an estimated 80 people living there. Approximately 53 homes are within one mile of the site [57]. This converts to a population of131, using 3.2 people per household [16, TABLE C-6]. The DNR estimates 14,600 people obtaindrinking water from public and private wells within four miles of the site [57]. The Village ofCross Plains has two municipal wells providing water to its 2,362 residents and the wells have adepth of 253 and 295 feet. The Village of Cross Plains is located along the Black Earth Creek. The Town of Middleton is not served by a municipal water supply [18].

Refuse Hideaway Landfill is located in a rural portion of the Town of Middleton, with thewestern edge of the City of Middleton two miles to the east and the Village of Cross Plains fourmiles to the west. According to the 1990 Census there are 3,628 persons living in the Town ofMiddleton. There are 16,774 persons residing within the City of Middleton and the Village ofCross Plains has a population of 2,362. Over 97 percent of the population is white, with themedian age between 32 and 33 years, and an average household income between $42,500 and$41,000 [12] [13] [16, TABLE C-1].

D. Health Outcome Data

"Health Outcome Data" refers to records of death and illness. When there is evidence peopleliving near a site have been exposed to contaminants at levels that could lead to an increase inrates of death or disease, a review of health outcome data may be appropriate. A review alsomay be appropriate if there are reports of unusual clusters of disease near the site or due tospecific community health concerns. As discussed in the Pathways Analysis section, despite acompleted exposure pathway in the past, there is no evidence of significant public exposure tochemicals from the site that might plausibly result in deaths or illness. One case of skin cancerwas reported for an individual who was exposed to contaminated groundwater. The Division ofHealth also received reports of several prostate cancer cases in the vicinity of the site. SeeCommunity Health Concerns Evaluation, on page 29, for further a discussion of these cancers.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

The DOH has solicited community concerns from the public on a number of occasions. Thisincludes at two public meetings (1992 and 1993), correspondence and discussions with specificindividuals, and during DNR community interviews [42]. During these contacts, some citizenshave asked health-related questions and expressed general concerns related to the RefuseHideaway Landfill. The issues they asked includes the following:

  • When we hear about how chemicals in groundwater might affect our health we are only told about the adverse health effects from an individual chemical. What are the health effects a person might have when they are exposed to combinations of chemicals detected in the private wells around Refuse Hideaway?
  • How often should people living near the site test their wells, particularly private wells that are not in the plume and have not shown any contamination?
  • What impact will the health assessment have on the remedial investigation and the clean-up process?
  • An individual who lived in a home with contaminated water was recently diagnosed with skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma). Was this cancer caused from exposure to contaminated groundwater coming from the site?
  • A number of nearby residents expressed concerns about illnesses in their families, though most acknowledged no obvious ways their family was exposed to contamination from the site.
  • The Division of Health received reports of three cases of prostate cancer among males living within three miles of the site. One of these cancers occurred in an individual who lived in one of the households that was later found to have contaminated well water. Would someone exposed to contamination from the site have an increased risk of prostate cancer? Are there an elevated number of prostate cancers in the vicinity of the site?
  • Some nearby residents expressed concern that contamination from the site affected the health of a child who lives nearby and was born with an immune system disorder.
  • During the DNR interviews, a number of people living near the site stated they were worried about groundwater contamination from farm products (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.).

Next Section          Table of Contents

  
 
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

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. #