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

PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

STARR PROPERTY
ENFIELD, HARTFORD COUNTY, CONNECTICUT



SUMMARY

The Starr Property is a State designated Superfund site in the town of Enfield, Connecticut in Hartford County. The site represents an indeterminant public health hazard. Odors at the site and emanating from the site have been associated with headaches, however, ambient air testing has not identified contaminants at levels likely to elicit this response. Visible waste containing cyanide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is present at the surface. In addition, activities at the site including dirt bike riding may expose trespassers to levels of contamination not quantified during site investigations. (i.e. inhalation exposure to dust generated during dirt bike riding)

Investigations of the site were initiated by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection in 1989 following complaints about odors. It is believed that demolition debris from the destruction of a coal gasification plant were disposed of on-site in the 1960's resulting in site contamination. The site is a vacant parcel of land covering approximately 44 acres.

Surface soil, subsurface soil, ground water, surface water and sediments have been contaminated with cyanide as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and some volatile organic compounds. The most significant exposures are occurring to people who trespass on the site and are involved in dirt bike riding that disturbs contaminated soils. Migration of contaminants off-site appears to be limited to ambient air, and surface water run-off. Groundwater may also be a potential route for migration of contaminants offsite.

The community has been very interested and concerned about the site. The nearest residential community is adjacent to the site. This area was developed in 1987.

In 1991, residents expressed concern about the site and cancer following the diagnosis of cancer in three residents near the site. A cancer investigation conducted by the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Addiction Services did not identify an overall increase of brain cancer or leukemia (the cancers of concern to the community) for the period 1979-1988.

We recommend that access to the site be restricted, private wells in East Windsor, south of the site be resampled and that remediation at the site occur as soon as possible to reduce the potential for exposure to the contaminants found at the site. Citizens living near the site should be informed of the site characteristics and the findings of this public health assessment.

ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel has reviewed the findings and conclusions of this Public Health Assessment. The panel has recommended that community health education occur and that the site be considered for inclusion in ATSDR's multi-site study of PAHs. The Connecticut Department of Public Health and Addition Services will conduct community health education for communities living near the site. A fact sheet on the site and the findings of this public health assessment will be developed and distributed to citizens living near the site.


BACKGROUND

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

The Starr Property is a State designated Superfund site in the town of Enfield, Connecticut in Hartford County. The site covers approximately 44 acres of undeveloped land off Simon Road on the Enfield, East Windsor line. According to interviews with former employees, conducted by a private investigator, approximately 500-800 yards of coal gas filter wood chips were dumped at the site. Waste material and various demolition debris can be observed on approximately five acres of the site. This same area was reportedly used for sand quarrying prior to waste disposal.

Residential developments border the site to the north and northwest. A town right-of-way cuts across the site to allow access to a sewage pumping station located next to the Scantic River. The Scantic River is approximately 750 feet east of the site and flows southward. Steep gullies bound the site on the north and south edges. A central gully drains a small pond into a wetland near the Scantic River. (See Appendix A, Site Map)

The site includes both open and wooded areas. The perimeter of the site is heavily wooded. Areas of obvious contamination are not vegetated. These areas are primarily sand, dirt and debris.

Disposal of demolition debris occurred at the site during the late 1960's. Prior to this the site was used as a sand and gravel pit. It is believed that demolition debris from the destruction of a coal gasification plant was disposed of at the site.(17) This waste may have included coal tar holders made of cement and wood slats used to filter the gas.

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) first investigated the site in June of 1989 following a citizen complaint.

Stained soil was identified at the site after an inspection by the CT DEP in June of 1989. Greenish slag deposits were also identified as the possible source of tar-like odors. In August of 1989, soil sampling indicated the presence of styrene, benzene, chromium, lead and barium. Mercury and cyanide were also detected during additional soil sampling.

The CT DEP issued an administrative order in July of 1990 requiring the owner to investigate the waste on-site and the potential impact of such wastes on human health and the environment.(17) The site is currently owned by Susan Starr and was privately owned by Enfield Road Construction during the 1960's when waste disposal was reported to have occurred. Ground Water, Inc., under contract to Ms. Starr, prepared a Preliminary Assessment dated February, 1991. The CT DEP prepared a scoring package in 1990 listing the site as a State Superfund Project. A Remedial Investigation for the site has been completed by Malcolm Pirnie, Inc..

The site is easily accessible by foot and all-terrain vehicles from the residential areas to the north. Trespassing at the site is evident. A locked gate prohibits vehicle access to the site from Simon Road.

B. SITE VISIT

On December 3, 1992, Jennifer Kertanis of the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Addiction Services, Division of Environmental Epidemiology and Occupational Health (CT DPHAS) conducted a site visit. Jennifer Kertanis was joined by staff from the CT DEP.

During an inspection of the site, Jennifer Kertanis made the following observations. These observations are not presented in order of significance.

-a strong odor similar to that of tar was evident as we approached the boundary of the property from the residential area, the air was still on this day
-a recent snow fall had coated the open areas
-dirt and sand had been dug up and exposed by dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles
-exposed dirt was a blue-green color in some places
-the remains of wood slats and grates were evident throughout the barren areas of the site
-a mature forest surrounds the perimeter of the site, a younger forest is present within the Scantic River floodplain
-no growth or ground cover existed in areas where discolored soil was present or human activities (dirt bike riding) were evident
-odors were strong by the wetland area that drains the small on- site pond
-orange liquid was evident draining out of the central gully and into the wetland area

C. DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

Approximately 350 people live in the residential area adjacent to the site which includes Patricia Circle, Kelly Drive, Celtic Court and Shannon Drive. This residential area was developed in 1987. A few homes also exist on Simon Road near the entrance to the Starr Property. Another nearby residential area is east of the Scantic River.

The residential areas near the site are predominantly white, middle class families. Many young children live in these homes.

The Starr Property is surrounded by woods. Deep gullies provide barriers on the northern and southern edges of the site. These gullies drain east to the Scantic River. Surface water run-off onto residential areas is not possible due to the drainage provided by these gullies. It is possible to pass over or through these gullies in many places.

Signs are posted around the perimeter of the site warning of the environmental contamination. A locked gate prohibits vehicle access to the site from Simon Road. The perimeter of the site is not fenced. It is evident that trespassing and recreational activities occur on site. Dirt bike tracks are apparent.

The Scantic River is approximately 750 feet east of the site and flows southward. This River is classified as Bc by the CT DEP. This means that the river is slightly degraded, not suitable for direct human consumption and supports a cold water fishery.

All of the homes in the residential neighborhoods in Enfield near the site are connected to the public water supply. There are a few homes, approximately 2,000 feet south of the site, in East Windsor, that have private wells.

There are three public water supplies within a one mile radius of the site.(14) They include the Hazardville Water Co. Neelan Park Well, the Hazardville Water Co. Grant Road Well, and the Hazardville Water Co. Town Farm Well. The nearest public water supply is the Grant Road Well approximately 3200 feet northeast of the site. All of these wells are on the east side of the Scantic River.

A shallow and a deep aquifer exist at the site. A 70-120 foot thick clay layer acts as an aquitard restricting groundwater between the two aquifers. Groundwater in the shallow aquifer on the west side of the site flows westward toward the northern gully. Groundwater in the shallow aquifer on the east side of the site flows northeast toward the pond and its tributaries. Groundwater discharges to the gullies and pond. The deep aquifer has not been thoroughly characterized.

D. HEALTH OUTCOME DATA

In April of 1991 residents living near the Starr property expressed concern about the recent diagnosis of three cases of cancer in residents near the property. In response, CT DPHAS gathered data from the Connecticut Tumor Registry for the town of Enfield.

The Connecticut Tumor Registry allows us to evaluate whether specific tumors have occurred more often than would be expected in a given town during a specific time period.

Information on the total number of tumors in Connecticut was collected for the years 1979-1988. The rates of new tumors occurring in individuals in specific age groups was calculated for brain cancer and leukemia (the cancers of concern to the citizens) for Enfield. These age-specific tumor rates for Enfield were compared with those for the State. The observed versus expected tumor incidence rates were compared to determine whether the number of tumors occurring in Enfield were more than would be expected. The results are discussed in the Public Health Implications section.


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Community health concerns have been gathered from a number of different sources. Since the initial site discovery and investigation, citizen concerns have been logged with the CT DEP. In addition, citizens have expressed concerns directly to CT DPHAS during CT DEP meetings and site visits. In addition, Jennifer Kertanis and Kenny Foscue of CT DPHAS delivered an introductory memo and fact sheet during the initial stages of the public health assessment process. (See Appendix B) This memo encouraged citizens to call with any health concerns or questions regarding the site. The following is a list of the citizens concerns that have been expressed to date.

  1. What is causing the odors at the site and can this make us sick?
  2. Should we be concerned about adverse effects the site might pose to pregnant women?
  3. There are some cancers in the neighborhood, are these cancers caused by the site?
  4. Are the contaminants that were found on the site on our properties?
  5. Dirt bike riders stir up dust, is the inhalation of this dust harmful to people living in the nearby neighborhoods?
  6. Headaches occur when odors from the site are evident, is it possible that the odors are causing the headaches?

Prior to this public health assessment, CT DPHAS was asked to review and comment on data collected by the CT DEP to address some of the citizens concerns early in the site investigation. Appendix C includes copies of correspondence addressing our review of early data and the potential health significance of contaminants found at the site.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health and Addiction Services placed a notice in the Enfield Press, the Hartford Courant, and the Manchester Journal Inquirer inviting comments on the Public Health Assessment for the Starr Property site. In addition to these newspaper notices, copies of the public health assessment were sent to the local public library, town hall, health district, and president of the local citizens group. During the comment period between April 15 to May 15, 1994, no public comments were received.



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. #