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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
LINEMASTER SWITCH CORPORATION
WOODSTOCK, WINDHAM COUNTY, CONNECTICUT


SUMMARY

The Linemaster Switch Corporation manufacturing facility is located in Woodstock, Connecticut.The facility has been manufacturing foot switches and other materials since 1952.Trichloroethylene (TCE1) was used as a degreaser for approximately 10 years, from 1969 to1979. There is evidence suggesting spent TCE and paint solvents were released into an on-site dry well.

Based primarily on the human health risks resulting from past exposure to hazardous substancesin the ground water, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and theConnecticut Department of Public Health and Addiction Services (CT DPHAS) have concludedthat the site is a Public Health Hazard. Residents in the area received exposures to site-related compounds from private drinking water wells for an undetermined amount of time.

Private residential wells were identified in 1986 as being contaminated with volatile organiccompounds (VOCs). Three on-site wells including the Bald Hill Restaurant, and three off-siteprivate wells including the Tarr Apartments, Town Hall, and the Fire Department wells wereidentified as contaminated in 1986 and 1987. Bottled water was initially provided to all thoseresidences whose wells had been contaminated with site related compounds and granulatedactivated carbon (GAC) filters were later installed. The wells are monitored by Fuss & O'Neill forLinemaster Switch Corporation. The GAC filters are maintained under the direction of theLinemaster Switch Corporation.

Another source of ground water well contamination in the area not related to the LinemasterSwitch Corporation National Priorities List (NPL) site is the Woodstock Public School site.Between 1991 and 1992, benzene, methyl tert butyl ether (MTBE), and other components ofgasoline were found in eight private residential wells. The residences were initially provided with bottled water and subsequently with GAC filters.

Naturally occurring arsenic (also not related to the Linemaster site) has also been identified inover twenty wells in the area above comparison values. Residents in Woodstock should considertesting their wells for arsenic and consider treating their water if arsenic levels are found abovehealth and regulatory standards.

The principal community concerns include the potential health effects from exposures to drinkingwater containing site related contaminants and naturally occurring arsenic.

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) and the CT DPHAS havedeveloped a Public Health Action Plan. As part of the action plan, the CT DEP and the CTDPHAS will continue to review monitoring reports from those private wells identified ascontaminated from the Linemaster Switch and the Woodstock Public School sites.

The CT DPHAS will provide environmental health education for local public health officials, thelocal medical community, and the local citizens to assist the community in assessing possibleadverse health outcomes associated with exposures to toxic substances. The CT DPHAS willattempt to coordinate a well survey of the Town of Woodstock to investigate the extent ofnaturally occurring arsenic contamination in the private wells.

BACKGROUND

In cooperation with the ATSDR, the CT DPHAS evaluated the public health significance of theLinemaster Switch Corporation site. The purpose of the public health assessment is to determinewhether adverse health effects are possible and to recommend actions to reduce or preventpossible health effects.

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

Linemaster Switch Corporation is located on Plaine Hill Road in Woodstock, Connecticut,Windham County, on a hill originally called Bald Hill. The 92-acre site is bounded by Plaine HillRoad, State Route 171, and State Route 169 (see Figure 1 in Appendix A). The site includes one45-acre parcel that is used by the Linemaster Switch Corporation and one 45-acre parcel wherethe owner of the company resides. The owner's residence is 500 feet north of the manufacturingbuilding. The Linemaster manufacturing facility is located near the center of the site. Locatedon-site in the southeast corner of the property are the Bald Hill Restaurant, a small cottage, and a private home (see Figure 2-1 in Appendix C1).

The facility manufactures electrical and pneumatic foot switches and wiring harnesses.Approximately 150 people are employed at Linemaster Switch Corporation.

Linemaster Switch Corporation began manufacturing operations in 1952 in the carriage house ofan estate, later replaced by the present factory building. TCE, paint thinner, and other chemicalswere used in the manufacturing process. TCE was used in a vapor degreaser apparatus beginningin 1969. The quantity of paint thinner used and disposed of is unknown. The estimated quantity ofTCE used between 1969 and 1979 was approximately 100 to 600 gallons per year (7). Of thisamount, approximately 20 to 200 gallons per year were disposed of on-site (7). Originally, solidpaint waste was disposed of at the Woodstock Town Landfill. In 1980, the CT DEP conducted aResource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) inspection at the site, which found that on-sitedisposal of dried paint solids had occurred. The CT DEP concluded, among other things, thatdried paint waste most likely was disposed of either on-site, taken to the Woodstock TownLandfill, or both, for approximately 20 to 30 years.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted site inspections in 1985 and 1986.Sampling from on-site and off-site private wells indicated the presence of VOCs, primarily TCE.Based on these results, bottled water was provided to the facility, one on-site residence, andseveral nearby off-site residences. Since that time, three on-site wells, the Woodstock Town Hall well, and three residential wells have been equipped with filter systems.

On April 8, 1986, an abatement order was issued by the CT DEP to Linemaster Switch requiringthe company to conduct a hydrogeologic study for the area (1). In 1987, a Consent Order wassigned by the EPA and Linemaster Switch Corporation instructing the company to "conduct ahydrogeological investigation, develop and evaluate removal actions to abate the contamination,provide an on-site and off-site ground water monitoring program, and provide alternative watersupplies for certain drinking water sources." In 1989, an air stripping tower and carbon polishingfilter were installed to remove VOCs from the on-site well water supply. This tower and filter arelocated in the southern portion of the factory building. In 1992, a groundwater collection andtreatment system, (the Interim Removal Treatment System (IRTS)) was installed to prevent themigration of VOCs off-site. Contaminated groundwater is pumped from six bedrock extractionwells to the treatment system which consists of an air stripper and carbon polishing filters. Thetreatment system is located in a small building to the east of the manufacturing building. Sinceinitiation of the IRTS, approximately 448 pounds of VOCs (407 pounds of TCE) have beenremoved from the groundwater (35).

The site was proposed for inclusion on the National Priorities List (NPL) on June 24, 1988. The site was listed on the NPL on February 21, 1990.

In 1986, the ATSDR provided a health consultation to the EPA regarding the public healthsignificance of ground water, surface water, and soil sampling data. On the basis of the dataavailable at the time, the ATSDR concluded the levels of VOCs in ground water represented animminent and appreciable public health threat and measures should be taken to reduce that threat (2).

In 1990, a preliminary health assessment was performed by the ATSDR which concluded thatalthough there were indications that human exposure to on-site and off-site contaminants mayhave occurred in the past, the site would not be considered for follow-up health activities at that time because there was no evidence of current exposure and no ability to ascertain past exposures to TCE (2).

Another source of ground water contamination not related to the Linemaster site was identified bythe CT DEP. An investigation in September of 1991, by the CT DEP detected gasoline in the soiland ground water at the Woodstock Public School property. Subsequent sampling of residentialwells south of the school detected several gasoline constituents including: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and MTBE. These residents were initially provided with bottled water by theCT DEP and later with GAC filters. The Woodstock Public School was also equipped with aGAC filter. The CT DEP determined that the source of the contamination was two leakingunderground storage tanks that had been removed from the Woodstock Public School property(5).

B1. Actions Planned During the Health Assessment Process

In response to community concerns, a Public Health Action Plan was developed. As part of theaction plan, the CT DEP and the CT DPHAS will continue to review monitoring reports fromthose private wells identified as contaminated from the Linemaster Switch and the WoodstockPublic School sites. In addition, the CT DPHAS will provide environmental health education forlocal public health officials, the local medical community and to the local citizens to assist thecommunity in assessing possible adverse health outcomes associated with exposures to toxicsubstances. The CT DPHAS is also planning to coordinate a well survey of the Town ofWoodstock to investigate the extent of arsenic contamination in the private wells.

B2. Actions Implemented During the Health Assessment Process

The public health actions that were implemented by the CT DPHAS are as follows:

  1. Site specific information regarding possible adverse health outcomes associated withexposures to toxic substances was distributed to community residents around the LinemasterSwitch Site.

  2. The ATSDR has reviewed health statistics provided by the CTDPHAS. ATSDR has concludedthat a further health statistics review is not indicated.

C. SITE VISIT

Edith Pestana and Kenny Foscue of the CT DPHAS and staff from the CT DEP conducted a sitevisit on Tuesday, March 30, 1993. During the site visit the CT DPHAS representatives met withthe project manager at the Linemaster Switch Corporation, and Fuss & O'Neill, developers of theRemedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for the Linemaster site. A tour of the Linemastersite was conducted, including visits to the manufacturing facility, the adjacent site buildings, andthe area near ponds number two and number three.

During the inspection of the site, the following observations were made. These observations are not presented in order of significance or importance.

  • The Linemaster manufacturing facility and office building are located atop a wooded hill.Access to the site is limited by a perimeter fence. Visitors to the site are required to sign in andout.

  • The manufacturing operation appeared very clean. The plant has converted its metal degreasingoperation from solvent-based cleaning to a system employing an ultrasound wash tank with awater-based detergent. The painting operation has switched from solvent-based to water-basedpaint for spraying parts.

  • The area around the contaminated dry well was covered with soil2

  • The ground water treatment system (an air stripper and carbon absorption system) is located in a small building east of the manufacturing facility.

  • A drainage ditch runs along the access road to Ponds number two and number three.

  • Three piles of soil covered with plastic tarps were observed near Pond number two. Accordingto Fuss and O'Neill, this soil was contaminated and had been excavated and moved from the Zonenumber one area around the dry well.

  • A structure housing three above-ground 550 gallon fuel tanks (one diesel and two gasoline) was observed near the facility.

  • The new and old leaching fields for the private residence on-site were observed downhill to theeast of the manufacturing facility.

D. DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

The town of Woodstock, CT has a population of approximately 6,000 people based on the 1990Census (6). Ninety-nine percent of the population is white. Eight percent of the population isunder the age of six. Seventeen percent of the population is between the ages of six and nineteen.Fifty-six percent of the population is between the ages of twenty and fifty-nine. Seventeen percentof the population is over the age of fifty-nine. The per capita income for the town of Woodstockis 18,649 dollars per year.

Approximately fifty homes and two apartment buildings are located within a one-half mile radiusof the site. The closest residents are located approximately 25 feet from the north propertyboundary (7). A review of deed information in the Woodstock Town Hall indicated that themajority of these homes were built and occupied during the time period of potential exposure(1969 to 1988). There are fifty-one private residential drinking water wells located at theperiphery of the site, used by approximately 130 people. Approximately 2,888 people are servedby ground water from both bedrock and overburden wells within three miles of the site (1) (seeAppendix A).

The Woodstock Public School, with an enrollment of 835 students, is approximately 1,800 feetfrom the Linemaster facility. The school has a drinking water well.

An outdoor running track is located to the north approximately 1,400 feet from the site.

Surface water streams in the vicinity of the site generally flow east or northeasterly into RoselandLake, approximately 0.75 miles east of the site area. Roseland lake drains into the Little River,which flows south to the Quinebaug River in Putnam. The nearest surface-water bodies off-siteare: an easterly flowing unnamed stream located approximately 2,000 feet to the north, anunnamed stream west of the site that flows southerly, and Mill Brook, which flows easterlyparallel to Route 171.

Four ponds; Northeast Pond, Pond 1, Pond 2, Pond 3, and one unnamed stream are located in theeastern section of the site. Pond 2 has no surface-water inlet and drains south by a small streamthat empties into wetlands (located 1,000 feet to the south of the site), adjacent to the Mill Brook(21). Pond 3 discharges into the unnamed stream just north of Pond 1. The unnamed streamoriginates at Northeast Pond, enters and exits Pond 1 and eventually discharges into Mill Brooksouthwest of the site.

There are two aquifers under the site, the overburden and the bedrock (2). Linemaster and oneon-site residence obtain water from one on-site production well (GW-08db). The water is treatedby air-stripping and carbon filtration to remove VOCs. Two other on-site residences and therestaurant obtain water from another well (GW-09db).

There are monitoring programs for the Interim Removal Treatment System wells, on-sitemonitoring wells, and on-site and off-site domestic water supply wells. Forty six domestic supplywells are monitored; five wells are monitored bi-monthly, twenty wells are monitored quarterly,nineteen wells are monitored semi-annually, and two wells are monitored annually.

Currently there are no municipal water or sewer utilities in the area. The Town of Woodstockplans to install sewer service along Routes 169 and 171, just outside the eastern and southernboundaries of the Linemaster property. Construction is expected to begin by the summer of 1995.

E. HEALTH OUTCOME DATA

Based on our review of the environmental data and the toxicologic implications associated withthe identified completed exposures pathways, the CT DPHAS has gathered data from the CTTumor Registry specifically for the Town of Woodstock for evaluation. This health statisticsreview of existing data has been evaluated. The findings are reported in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation Section.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Concerns from citizens were compiled by reviewing historical records and documented complaintsat a number of agencies. The CT DEP Water, Solid Waste, and Superfund files were reviewed. Inaddition, local and state health officials were contacted. The concerns of the citizens were alsogathered from the EPA public informational meeting held April 14, 1993, at the Woodstock TownHall. This EPA meeting had an attendance of approximately 40 people. As part of the HealthAssessment process, an availability session for local residents to express their concerns wasconducted at the Woodstock Town Hall on April 27, 1993 (see the CT DPHAS notice inAppendix B). A total of six residents attended the availability session. The community concernsinclude:

  1. Does itching skin after bathing indicate that the well is contaminated or has beenre-contaminated?

  2. Could dizziness, fainting, and a feeling of weakness be related to exposures connected with the Linemaster Switch site?

  3. Is it safe for farm animals such as cattle to drink water contaminated by the Linemaster Switch or the water that was contaminated by the Woodstock School leaking fuel tank?

  4. Are the levels of arsenic in some wells safe? What are the health effects of arsenic in drinking water?

  5. Could Grave's disease result from exposures to the contaminants found in the drinking water?


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