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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

RIPON CITY LANDFILL
RIPON, FOND DU LAC COUNTY, WISCONSIN

PREFACE: THE PURPOSE OF HEALTHASSESSMENTS

The federal "Superfund" law requiresthe U. S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to conduct a health assessment of all toxic waste sites that the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)proposes for inclusion on the list of the nation's most hazardous waste sites. This list is calledthe National Priorities List. The Ripon FF/NN LandfillSite was proposed to the National Priorities List on June 23rd, 1993(1). The site was thenlisted in May of 1994. The Division of Health (WDOH) within the Wisconsin Department ofHealth and Social Services works with ATSDR to prepare assessments. The purposes of healthassessments are:

  1. To evaluate whether contaminants at the site pose a current or future threat to public health;
  2. To recommend any steps needed to protect the public from exposure to toxic substances, and
  3. To recommend long-term health studies, when appropriate.

For each assessment health professionals look at the contaminants present, including eachchemical's toxicity; ability to move through soil, water or air; persistence in the environment; andability to accumulate in the food chain. They look at ways that people could be exposed tocontaminants such as eating, breathing, or touching the chemicals. Investigators check relevanthealth records when appropriate to see if there may be increases in health effects related to publicexposure to contaminants from the site. Finally, an assessment identifies the health hazards thata site may pose and recommends action to protect public health now and in the future.

SUMMARY

The Ripon FF/NN Superfund Site is an abandoned landfill that operated from 1967 to 1983. Thelandfill accepted municipal, commercial, and industrial wastes during its operation. The site isnorthwest of the City of Ripon in the northwest corner of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) have migrated from the landfill to thegroundwater near thesite. Leachate from the landfill has seeped to the surface and into a depression adjacent to thesite.

A private water supply approximately 500 feet south of the site became contaminated withVOCs. Vinyl chloride levels in the water supply wells at this residence posed a public healthhazard to the residents. Such an exposure can cause an increased cancer risk. Both water supplywells on this property have been abandoned and the home is no longer occupied. There are noother known exposures to contamination from this site. Other private wells in the area have beentested and are not impacted by the site. A public healthhazard could exist in the future ifcontaminated groundwater migrated to other private wells and were present at levels of healthconcern. Future exposures to the leachate seeps on-site pose an indeterminant public healthhazard.

A monitoring plan should be developed that will provide the nearby well users warning ofexposure to contamination above levels that could cause health effects. Leachate in the landfillshould be controlled to prevent the potential for exposure to seeps and additional contribution ofgroundwater contamination. Site access should be limited to prevent contact with the leachate. The WDOH will continue to review remedial actions at this site to ensure the protection ofpublic health. WDOH will also continue to address community health concerns as they arise.

BACKGROUND

SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

The Ripon FF/NN Landfill is located approximately 1 mile northwest of the City of Ripon. Ripon is in the northwest corner of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. Figure 1 shows the generallocation of the City of Ripon in Wisconsin, and Figure 2 shows the location of the site.

Priorto use as a landfill, the property was a wetland. The landfill operated from 1967 to 1983, accepting a combination of municipal, commercial andindustrial wastes. The site also accepted wastewater treatment sludge during its operation. Theproperty was leased from the property owner in 1967, by the Speed Queen Company forindustrial waste disposal from its Ripon facility. In 1968, the City of Ripon leased the propertyfor use as a landfill and received a landfill license from the Wisconsin Department of NaturalResources (WDNR) in 1969. The City and Town of Ripon jointly operated the site from 1970 to1983(2). The site waslisted on the Superfund National Priorities List in the Summer of 1993. The remedial investigation had begun shortly before that time and is expected to be completed inthe Fall of 1994.

The landfill itself occupies 7.3 acres of a 9-acre parcel. The waste thickness ranges from 30feetat the western edge to 10 feet at the eastern edge. The waste volume has been estimated at180,000 cubic yards. In 1985 thesite was capped with clay, and apassive gas venting

system was installed. At that time a leachate interceptor trench was also constructed along the eastern side of the site. Hay has been grown on the cap since 1985. The site is currently well vegetated. The clay cap ranges in thickness from one to four feet, with three to six inches of topsoil(3).

Large wetlands exist directlynortheast of the site across CountyHighway FF and directly southwestof the site across County HighwayNN(Figure 3).

The geology of the area consists of about 170 feet of glacial deposits made up primarily ofsandand gravel with minimal silt and clay. Sandstone bedrock lies beneath this unconsolidated layer. The water table is about 20 feet below the base of the landfill. After the heavy rainfall in thesummer of 1993, the water table was still more than 10 feet below the bottom of the landfill. Groundwater flow at the water table is to the southwest beneath the site. Groundwater flowwithin the deeper sandstone is to the west(4).

DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

Land use inthe area consists of amixture of rural residential,agricultural, and a quarry operation. The quarry operation is acrossCounty Highway NN to the west ofthe site. There are twenty-fourresidences within a half mile of thesite. Most are along CountyHighways FF and NN to the north. Figure 3 shows the approximatelocations of those homes. Thepopulation of the City of Ripon isapproximately 7,500 people. Thecity includes a mix of industrial,commercial and residential landuses. There is also a small collegein the town.

There is a residence directly south of the site that had been occupied until 1991. This homeis nolonger occupied, and the private well serving it has been abandoned to prevent further use.

SITE VISIT

On April 21, 1992 Chuck Warzecha of the WDOH went to the site with the WisconsinDepartment of Natural Resources (WDNR) project manager. The cap was well vegetatedwithout noticeable erosion. Since closure hay has been grown on the cap. There is potential forponding of water to the east of the cap, in fact, standing water was noted at the time of the sitevisit. The base of the cap to the east has had some erosion related to leachate seeps from thelandfill. The slope of the landfill cap appears to be sufficient to prevent ponding on the landfillitself. The site is not fenced and there are no signs warning people to stay off the site.

The site is on the edge of a ridge that drops off rapidly to the northeast and to the west andsouthwest. A wetland and shooting range are northeast of the site across County Highway FF. Avery large rock quarry operates west of the site across County Highway NN. South of the quarryis a large, open-water wetland. At the time of the visit, this wetland was filled with a variety ofducks and geese. It appeared that the wetland received water indirectly from the quarry.

On April 20, 1993 Chuck Warzecha and Mary Young of WDOH participated in a publicmeetingwith two WDNR representatives. The meeting was held to discuss the upcoming investigation ofthe site. The site had not yet been listed as a Superfund site, however, the Superfund process wasalso discussed. During a visit to the site prior to the meeting no changes were noted from theprevious year(5).

HEALTH OUTCOME DATA

"Healthoutcome data" is a phrase referring to records of death and disease. When there isevidence that people near a site have been exposed to contaminants at levels that could lead to anincrease in rates of death or disease, a review of health outcome data may be appropriate. Areview also may be appropriate if there are reports of unusual clusters of disease near a site.

COMMUNITY HEALTHCONCERNS

This section addresses the community health concerns identified earlier in the document. community health concerns were solicited at a public meeting held in April of 1993 in the City ofRipon. Chuck Warzecha and Mary Young also interviewed the residents living near the site inthe summer of 1993. In general the residents were well informed about the site and were notconcerned that the site could affect their health.

  1. A common concern expressed was that the groundwater contamination from the site not be allowed to enter private wells in the area.
  2. Residents questioned what was coming out of the pipes sticking up out of the site. They wanted to know if there was a health hazard posed by those pipes.
  3. Several residents to the south of the site have been experiencing a problem with theirprivatewell water quality. The water is very turbid and has a strong "swampy" odor. The residentsquestion whether or not there could be a relationship between this problem and the site.

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