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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

OLD SOUTHINGTON LANDFILL
SOUTHINGTON, HARTFORD COUNTY, CONNECTICUT


SUMMARY

The Old Southington Landfill (OSL) is located in Southington, Connecticut. The landfill operated for approximately 47 years, between the years 1920 and 1967. Open dumping of liquid, solid and hazardous wastes began in 1950. Open burning of wastes and spontaneous chemical fires occurred for an unknown period of time prior to 1964. In 1967 the landfill was closed and the property was subdivided and developed into residential and commercial properties.

Various contaminants of concern, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals, and pesticides have been found in ground water and soil. One public well (number five) located northwest of OSL was found to be contaminated with VOCs. VOCs were identified above background levels in 1976 and the public well was taken out of service in 1979. The well was operated until 1979 because the limited number of drinking water standards in effect at that time were not exceeded.

The principal community health concerns associated with the site include: current exposures to potentially contaminated indoor and outdoor air which several residents state were making them feel sick; and concern that the soil on residential property is contaminated and possibly not safe for growing edible plants. In addition, the residents expressed concern over the potential for exposures to contaminants from swimming and fishing in Black Pond.

A preliminary investigation by the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Addiction Services (CT DPHAS) found small age-specific increases in bladder and testicular cancers for the entire town. This review was initiated by a citizen's complaint.

Based on the physical hazards associated with the methane contamination of indoor air in commercial facilities, the site is a public health hazard. However, the physical hazards associated with the methane are currently being addressed. Workers have been, and are now potentially being exposed to hazardous levels of methane and potentially other unknown toxic gases in indoor air. Residents received exposures to site related compounds from a contaminated public drinking water well for an undetermined amount of time. In addition, airborne exposures may have occurred in the past from open burning of waste and chemical fires.

The data and information evaluated in the public health assessment for the Old Southington Landfill, Southington, Connecticut was reviewed by the ATSDR Health Activities Recommendations Panel for appropriate follow-up with respect to health actions. The panel determined that community and health professional education are indicated for the site. In addition, other follow up actions will be considered when the results of a dose reconstruction analysis and further analysis of a cancer cluster study are complete -- these actions are on-going or planned in relation to the Solvents Recovery Services of New England site, Southington, Connecticut.


BACKGROUND

In cooperation with the ATSDR the CT DPHAS evaluated the public health significance of the Old Southington Landfill (OSL) site. The purpose of the public health assessment is to determine whether adverse health effects are possible and to recommend actions to reduce or prevent possible health effects.

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

The OSL, also referred to as the Old Turnpike Road Landfill, is located in Southington (Hartford County), Connecticut. The 13 acre site is located adjacent to Old Turnpike Road in the Plantsville section of town (see Figure 1-1 in Appendix 1). Town production well number five is located approximately 700 feet northwest of the landfill. Based on the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Studies (RI/FS) documents reviewed (GZA 1989, 1990, 1991; ESE 1993), the landfill site is located parallel to and along the eastern side of Old Turnpike Road.

Based on the ATSDR review of available studies (Bionetics 1988; GZA 1990; GZA 1991; O'Connor Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) Memorandum 1991 ), the extent of the landfill's boundaries are not established and have not been clearly defined by the RI/FS (GZA RI/FS 1990;1991) conducted to date.

A review of historical aerial photography (Bionetics, 1988) and according to interviews with local residents, there are eleven buildings (including four residential buildings) located on the OSL site. Figure 1-2 in Appendix 1 shows a map of the commercial and residential properties that comprise the site and the neighboring study area.

The OSL site is bordered by Old Turnpike Road to the west, Rejean Road to the north and Black Pond to the east (Figure 1-2 in Appendix 1). The surrounding neighboring properties include town production well number five, the land occupied by the Lori Corporation, WNT4 Radio Station and Chuck and Eddie's Used Auto Parts yard to the west of the site. A total of eleven buildings (which includes eight industrial and four residential properties) were mapped as potentially being located on the OSL site in a report by Bionetics (1988).

The OSL operated for approximately 47 years, from 1920 to 1967. Open dumping at the landfill began in 1950. During this period, liquid, solid, and hazardous wastes were accepted from residential, commercial, and industrial sources. Hazardous materials reportedly disposed of in the landfill include metal hydroxide sludge, metals, organic solvents, and acid/alkali solutions (GZA 1989). Prior to l964, open burning took place at OSL for an unknown period of time (Harvanek, J l990). Based on past records (E & E, 1980, in GZA 1990; CFE l979), approximately 2.7 million gallons of solvent contaminated waste were disposed of in the landfill. Chemical classes documented at OSL include: a variety of VOCs, PCBs, pesticides, furans, and metals.

After the landfill closed in 1967, the property was subdivided and developed into commercial, industrial and residential properties. The process of landfill closure included compacting loose refuse, covering the landfill with clean fill and seeding the material with grasses. Areas to the north of Rejean Road are believed to be partially wetlands prior to the construction of the existing residential area. A review of state aerial photography files indicates that filling of this area with soil began in the late 1960s.

Although the landfill was covered and subdivided there has been no remediation of the site to date.

In 1985, the site was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priority List (NPL) of hazardous waste sites, due to the ground water contamination (above background levels) identified in town municipal well number five. The town municipal well number five was installed in 1971. In 1979, the well was deactivated because ground water analysis indicated the presence of VOCs, including 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA) at levels exceeding the CT DPHAS water quality guidelines. This well was never reactivated and was abandoned by the Southington Water Department in August of 1987. Although not site related, other town wells (number 2, 4, and 6) were also identified as contaminated with VOCs during the mid l960s to the late l970s.

Four water supply wells are located within 1,000 feet of the OSL. One well, located at the Lori Corporation, is used for industrial processes. A second well, located at Chuck and Eddie's is used for fire suppression needs and not for drinking purposes (Personal Communication November 28, 1994). The third well was used as a potable water supply at a private residential property. This well is located approximately 360 feet southwest of the southern end of the study site and is now inactive. The fourth well located at Solomon Casket, is currently inactive. The well was used for the washing of trucks and occasionally for drinking purposes for an unknown period of time until 1988. Both the private residence and the Solomon Casket facility were connected to public water in 1988 and 1991 respectively.

In 1989, the ATSDR performed a Preliminary Health Assessment on OSL. Based on the information available at that time, the site was considered to be a potential public health concern because of the risk to human health caused by the potential exposures to hazardous substances.

Actions Implemented During the Health Assessment Process

The public health actions that were implemented by the ATSDR, the CT DPHAS, CT DEP, and the EPA are as follows:

  1. In 1991 and 1992, dangerously elevated levels of methane posing an explosion hazard were detected in three on-site commercial facilities. In response, at the request of the EPA, methane alarms and engineering controls were subsequently installed by Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) to protect on-site residents and workers. The CT DPHAS performed on-site educational meetings to teach facility employees and residents about the hazards of methane and how to protect themselves.
  2. The CT DPHAS and the CT DEP sampled fish from Black Pond in order to assess what potential compounds may be bioaccumulating in the fish and what adverse effects may occur as a result of ingestion. No adverse health effects are expected from the ingestion of fish from Black Pond.
  3. The CT DPHAS sampled tap water from the four on-site residences in order to assess whether site related contaminants are migrating into water supply pipes. No contaminants were identified in the water samples taken.
  4. The ATSDR performed a health consultation to assess the potential health risks associated with the levels of combustible gases at OSL and recommended actions to protect the public health. The health consultation is attached in Appendix 4.
  5. The CT DPHAS and the CT DEP met with residents in their homes frequently to discuss the results of environmental data and other concerns with the site.
  6. The EPA conducted a soil gas survey as part of the RI/FS in order to assess ambient air contamination. This gas study was performed outside of the buildings and has investigated the types of gases generated in order to design an appropriate permanent remedy for gases released by the landfill.
  7. The EPA conducted surface soil sampling as part of the RI/FS in order to assess exposure to contaminated soils. A review of the sampling data results indicates that exposures to surface soils do not present a health concern.
  8. The EPA has characterized the extent and degree of contamination that exits on the site and has delineated much of the site boundaries as part of the RI/FS.
  9. The Southington Fire Department is monitoring all residential and industrial facilities for methane bimonthly to protect residents and workers on the landfill from fire and explosion hazards.

B. SITE VISIT

Several site visits have been conducted by the following representatives of the CT DPHAS, Division of Environmental Epidemiology and Occupational Health, Brian Toal, Edith Pestana, Sandra Geschwind, Jennifer Kertanis, and Kenneth Foscue. The CT DPHAS personnel were accompanied by representatives from the CT DEP, and Suzanne Simon of the ATSDR. The site visits were performed in April, July, and November of 1991, and in May, June, and July of 1992. The following residences were visited: 413 and 425 Old Turnpike Rd and 101 Rejean Rd. The following commercial facilities were visited: Northeast Machine Company, Southington Parks and Recreation Department, R.V. & Son, Southington Metal Fabricator, and Solomon Casket.

Evidence of subsidence was observed in each of the commercial facilities ranging from one inch to 24 inches.

Four private residences are located along the northern portion of the landfill just north and west of Black Pond. A survey of these properties did not reveal any visual leachate or landfill associated materials. One of the residences had a rowboat located on the banks of Black Pond that appeared to be actively used. In addition, a raft was observed along the northern shore of the pond.

Black Pond is located just east-northeast of the commercial properties. Inspection of the southwest shore of Black Pond on April 16, 1991, revealed seepage of landfill leachate material into the pond and adjacent wetlands. In addition, refuse was also observed along the banks of Black Pond. Seepage of landfill leachate was also observed in the wetlands located south of Black Pond on the approach road to the Meriden Box Property. Located just north of Black Pond on Rejean Road is a small area of undeveloped municipal land used for recreational purposes.

Explosive levels of methane were measured in floor cracks in the Southington Parks and Recreation building and in two buildings (northernmost and southernmost buildings) at Southington Metal Fabricators during a site visit in July of 1992 by Edith Pestana and a fireman from the Southington Fire Department. The public health implications of the methane levels found are discussed in the On-site Contamination and Physical and Other Hazards Sections.

C. DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

The township of Southington, CT had a 1990 Census population of 38,518 persons. The area surrounding the site represents a mixture of light industrial and residential areas. The OSL site is located in the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area 5440, County 003, and census tracts 4301, 4303, and 4304.

Approximately l9 percent of the population in the three census tracts is over 65 years of age and 6 percent is under 5 years old. The population is 98 percent white, divided equally between males and females. A total of 13,285 people and 4,578 housing units comprise the three census tracts that are all within 1/2 mile of the site boundary.

The landfill is located approximately 700 feet southeast of municipal well number five. This well operated from 1972 to 1979, and was used as a public potable water source, which supplied between 9 and 24 percent of the total water supply for the town. In 1976, sampling results indicated the presence of TCA at levels exceeding the CT DPHAS guidelines and the well was deactivated.

There are four residential homes located on the site. All residences located on-site and on neighboring properties and all commercial facilities on-site are connected to public water.

Two properties within 1,000 feet of the landfill were found to use private wells for non-potable water purposes: Chuck and Eddie's Junkyard and the Lori Corporation. One private residence used their wells for potable purposes up until the summer of 1991 when they were connected to the public water supply.

Black Pond is located due east of the northern portion of the landfill. The pond has dimensions of approximately 400 feet by 600 feet. A stream flows west from Black Pond toward the swamp area to the west of OSL and ultimately drains into the Quinnipiac River, approximately 4,500 feet to the west. A second stream flows into Black Pond from the northern residential area above Rejean Road. Surface water drainage from Rejean Road, Old Turnpike Road and the surrounding areas flow into Black Pond as well. The pond is used for several recreational purposes including swimming, boating, fishing, and duck hunting.

D. HEALTH OUTCOME DATA

Based on a citizen complaint in March of 1990, the CT DPHAS began to investigate the concern that there was an excess of cancer cases in Southington, Connecticut. While this complaint was initially generated because of potential exposure to the Solvent Recovery Service of New England (SRSNE) NPL site, (located approximately four miles due north of the OSL site), the investigation included the entire town. The rationale for including these data in this report is based on the fact that potentially a large percentage of the population of the town was exposed to contaminated drinking water from several municipal town wells (number 2, 4, 5, and 6). In addition, all water wells in town are pumped through the entire town water distribution system, thereby allowing for mixing and cross contamination of water from the various wells throughout the town.

1. Studies of tumor incidence in Southington, CT

In the Spring of 1990, the CT DPHAS was contacted by a resident of Southington who was concerned that there was an excess of cancer occurring in that resident's neighborhood near the SRSNE site. This concern triggered an initial investigation of cancer incidence in the town of Southington and then subsequent follow-up investigations. These investigations are included in this health assessment because they studied tumor incidence in the entire town, not just near the SRSNE site.

All tumor incidence information was obtained from the CT DPHAS Tumor Registry. Since 1935, any tumor diagnosed to a resident of Connecticut must be reported to the CT DPHAS Tumor Registry. In addition to reporting from physicians, hospital records are reviewed by the Tumor Registry to ensure that reporting is complete.

a. Initial study of cancer incidence in Southington 1979 to 1988

The citizen who first expressed concern regarding excess cancer in Southington provided a list of cases that was verified against the Tumor Registry records to confirm primary site of diagnosis, age of the case, and date of diagnosis. The CT DPHAS then gathered data on the incidence of leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, bladder, brain, and breast cancer for the town of Southington and the state of Connecticut for the years 1979 to 1988.

The purpose of this initial study was to compare cancer incidence rates in the entire town of Southington with State of Connecticut cancer incidence rates. The results of this study is discussed in the Public Health Implications section.

b. Follow-up study of bladder and testicular cancer in Southington 1970 to 1989 using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology

While none of the tumor sites studied in the initial investigation showed an overall excess in the town of Southington, it did not address the question of the possible increase of cancer occurring in particular neighborhoods. There were age specific increases in the bladder cancer rate for the age group 40-49 years, but not in the overall cancer rates for the town. Bladder and testicular cancer were selected for further study because:

    * the age specific increases in bladder cancer,

    * continued concern on the part of citizens regarding testicular cancer,

    * the water was known to be contaminated, and

    * it seemed biologically possible that bladder cancer rates may have been affected.

The purpose of the study was to determine where the cancer cases occurred in Southington and whether the incidence of these cases was higher near the SRSNE site. A computerized Geographic Information System (GIS) assisted in the mapping of testicular and bladder cancer cases that occurred to residents of Southington during the years 1970 to 1989. The GIS also was used to determine if these cases lived within one mile of the contaminated wells and to estimate the number of persons living within one mile of the wells.

The results of this study are discussed in the Public Health Implications Section.

c. Expanded GIS study of exposure to contaminants and cancer incidence in Southington 1970-1989

The study of bladder and testicular cancer relied on the assumption that those persons who lived within one mile of the contaminated wells were more likely to receive higher levels of contaminants in the water distribution system than persons who lived further than one mile from the contaminated wells. This rough exposure assessment may not accurately reflect the travel of the contaminants in the water distribution system. Therefore, the ATSDR has funded the CT DPHAS to conduct an expanded study to better assess how residents of Southington were exposed to contaminants from the wells (including well number five near OSL), and contaminants released into the air from SRSNE.

Cases of liver and kidney cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and Hodgkins disease will be mapped using the GIS. The water distribution system is being evaluated by the ATSDR to develop an exposure ranking scheme. Census blocks will be scored for the amount of water contamination the people living within the census block were likely to have received through the water distribution system. Air contaminants will be similarly ranked. The goal of this study is to compute cancer rates for each tumor site by a relative measure of exposure to contaminants in the water and the air and determine if there is a dose-response association between cancer risk and exposure to contaminants.

2. Infant and Perinatal Mortality Rate.

Given that infants are especially sensitive to environmental conditions, preliminary trend assessments of infant (1 to 11 months) and perinatal (fetal deaths, age greater than 20 weeks and neonatal deaths age 1 to 28 days) mortality rates were performed by the CT DPHAS Division of Health Surveillance & Planning Unit.

Infant and perinatal mortality rates were calculated for Southington and the surrounding towns for the years 1947 to 1988 and compared with those of the state for the same period by the CT DPHAS Division of Health Surveillance & Planning (see Appendix 3 for results). The results are discussed in the Public Health Implications Section.


COMMUNITY CONCERNS

On November 21, 1991, the CT DPHAS held an informal 'public availability' session in Southington in order to discuss with local residents any community health concerns associated with the OSL site. Approximately 20 local residents attended the meeting and expressed the following concerns:

  1. Residents living on the landfill are concerned about the potential exposures to toxic indoor air emissions.
  2. Residents expressed concerns about potential exposures to contaminated soils and gases while performing gardening and general yard work. One resident stated that skin rashes sometimes develop while working in the yard. In addition, residents question whether they can grow vegetables and fruit on their property as they are concerned that the soil is contaminated.
  3. Recreational activities such as fishing and swimming are common in Black Pond. Residents feel these recreational activities are unsafe and that warning signs should be posted along the shores of the pond to keep people out.
  4. An employee from the Southington Parks and Recreation Department stated that the building where he worked was contaminated with toxic gases. He stated that he experienced an allergic skin reaction (reddening and burning of the skin) while working inside one of the facility buildings. He stated that other employees avoid working in the building because they experience nausea and headaches when they work inside.
  5. Residents living within the northern boundary of OSL have expressed concern over recent indoor air samples taken by the EPA. One resident expressed concern as to the meaning and interpretation of the indoor air results and delays in governmental decision making.
  6. Several residents will not drink the tap water in their homes because the public water supply pipes were installed in landfill material.
  7. Several residents and employees of the commercial facilities stated that they see the EPA RI/FS workers wearing health and safety protective clothing and equipment on their property. They feel the EPA is keeping information from them and they are worried about their safety.

A community meeting was held on April 21, 1994, to provide information on the causes and movements of landfill gases and to listen and note any health concerns related to landfill gases. The following community concerns were noted.

  1. Residents living along Rejean Road raised concerns about the possibility of landfill gases entering their homes and the lack of adequate environmental monitoring to determine the likelihood of such movement.
  2. Residents living on the northern portion of the landfill did not believe that the methane monitors installed in their homes were adequately checked or maintained.


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