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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

SAND GRAVEL AND STONE SITE
ELKTON, MARYLAND


SUMMARY

The Maryland Sand, Gravel and Stone (MSGS) NationalPriorities List (NPL) Site is locatednear Elkton in Cecil County, Maryland. Hazardous chemical wasteswere dumped on the sitefrom 1969 to 1974. Chemical liquids and sludges were originally disposed of in three openlagoons and were also buried on-site in drums. About 200,000 gallons of sludges and liquidwastes were removed from the site in 1975 and 1976. Contaminants that havebeen identifiedinclude many common volatile organic solvents and several heavy metals. Included in thisgroup are several chemicals that are classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) as known human carcinogens and anumber of others that EPA has classified as probablehuman carcinogens.

EPA has divided the site investigation and clean-up work into three phases. The Phase IRemedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) of the site was conducted in 1985 andfocused on the characterization of contamination in the Eastern Excavated Area (EEA). Highconcentrations ofcontaminants were identified in on-site sediments, surface water, and shallowgroundwater. Major contaminants include arsenic, cadmium, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate,chlorobenzene, ethylbenzene, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, toluene,1,1,1-trichloroethane, and trichloroethylene. Phase I remediation plans include the installation ofa water treatment system to treat groundwater that is collected in on-site interceptor trenches. Buried drums, some of which still contained hazardous wastes, were removed from the sitefollowing the Phase I investigation. Contaminants have also moved into deeper groundwater inthe EEA.

A barbed wire-topped, chain-link fence was constructed around the EEA in December 1988andbecause of soil erosion, was further modified in June 1990. A 24-hour-a-day guard has alsobeen posted at the site.

Contaminants have migrated from the EEA through the air, surface water, and groundwater. Inthe past, people who entered the site may have been exposed to contaminants in air or by directcontact with surface waters or sediments. The closest residences are located within about 1,000feet of the EEA. During the spring and summer of 1976 and 1979, respectively, local residentscomplained of strong, site-related odors and associated health effects. People may also havebeen exposed by direct contact with contaminated sediments and surface water in Mill Creek,which receives surface water drainage from the site. Site investigators noted in the mid-1970sthat the stream was severely polluted by site contaminants. A bioassessment of the creek thatwas conducted in 1988 did not find any indications of pollution.

The Phase II Remedial Investigation was designed to investigate possible waste disposal intheWestern Excavated Area (WEA) and contamination of deep groundwater systems. Based on theresults of the Phase II investigation, it was concluded that hazardous wastes were not disposed ofin the WEA. Low concentrations of some organic chemicals were found in deep groundwater inthe WEA. These chemicals appear to have migrated in a southerly direction (the generaldirection of groundwater flow) from the EEA. The testing of private wells surrounding the siteshowed no indication of site-related contamination, although contamination has been detected inwells, primarily in a private well west of the site. The Record of Decision (ROD) for Phase IIrequires periodic sampling of both on-site and off-site wells and, if necessary, point-of-use watertreatment. Phase III will address contaminated soils in the EEA, site closure, and post closureactivities. As of December 17, 1993, four quarterly sampling events of on-site and off-site wellshad been completed. Low levels of volatile organic compounds continue to be found in theresidential well west of the site. The resident is supplied bottled water.

No health-related concerns regarding the site have been expressed by local residents at twopublic meetings that were held near the site in 1989 and 1990. A review of available healthoutcome data for Cecil County did not reveal any increased rate of cancer mortality for recentyears (compared to the State as a whole), but did show an increased frequency of two birthdefects. This finding cannot be related to the site.

It is concluded that the MSGS site was a public healthhazard in the past, during the period inwhich trespassers had unrestricted access to areas of high surface contamination. The sitecurrently is classified as posing no apparent public health hazard, although there is thepotentialfor the future contamination of off-site drinking water wells that are downgradient from the siteif site remediation is not implemented.

Recommended actions include the following: regular monitoring of off-site wells, additionalsampling of on-site surface soils and off-site sediments, and control of dust generation duringremediation activities.

To determine if public health actions are needed, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR)Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has evaluated the dataand information developed in the Maryland Sand, Gravel, and Stone Public Health Assessment. Because there are no indications that people have been exposed to contaminants at levels thatmay cause illness or disease, HARP determined that no follow-up health actions are indicated atthis time. If the commenters express concerns during the public commentperiod, the Agencywill consider programs to provide the residents with information about the public healthassessment and their potential for exposure to sitecontaminants. If new information becomesavailable indicating exposure at levels of concern, ATSDR will evaluate that information todetermine what actions, if any, are necessary.

To ensure that public health issues are addressed, the Maryland Department of theEnvironment(MDE) and ATSDR developed a public health action plan. MDE will communicate with localresidents to provide information and assistance in understanding their potential for exposure tohazardous substances. MDE will also contact EPA to determine when and if recommendationsmade in this public health assessment are to be implemented.


BACKGROUND

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

The Maryland Sand, Gravel and Stone (MSGS) site (formerly Maryland Sand andGravelstone)is located in Cecil County, Maryland, about 3 miles west of the town of Elkton. The site coversabout 200 acres and lies within a triangle formed by Maryland Highway 40 (Pulaski Highway)to the south and Marley and Nottingham roads to the east and west, respectively (Figure 1). Surface water and wetlands on the site include three ponds (P01, P02, P03); the Sedge MeadowArea; a swamp; the Old Sedimentation Pond; and an upper reach of the western tributary of MillCreek (Figure 2). The eastern tributary to Mill Creek lies about 1,000 feet east of the site andflows south. Mill Creek flows to the east-southeast, eventually draining into Little Elk Creek,which then joins Big Elk Creek.

The MSGS site was operated as a sand and gravel quarry. Materials were removed from twoareas: the Eastern Excavated Area (EEA) and the Western Excavated Area (WEA) (Figure 2). About 3 acres in the EEA were used for disposal of waste-processing water, sludge, and drumsof solid and semi-solid waste between 1969 and 1974. Three pits in the area were used assurface impoundments, where about 700,000 gallons of wastes were disposed. The twoprincipal generators of waste were the Galaxy Chemical Company of Elkton, Maryland, a company that recycled solvents, and Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., a disposer of waste fromlatex production. MSGS was never licensed for on-site disposal of chemical wastes (1).

In April 1974, a pool of chemical waste burned on the MSGS site and gave off dense smoke(2). Later in 1974, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued an order to ceasedisposal operations and clean up the site. During this same year, the DNR and the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a biological assessment of a tributary ofMill Creek that receives drainage from the site (1,2). The agencies concluded that sitecontaminants were having a severe, adverse effect on the plants and animals in the creek. biologicalmonitoring of the creek, which was conducted by DNR in 1975 and 1976, identifiedadverse effects up to 1 mile downstream of the site. These effects were attributed to site-relatedcontaminants. Inspectors from DNR who were monitoring the site in 1976 noted strong odorsand eye irritation from contact with airborne contaminants (1).

In 1975 and 1976, 200,000 gallons of liquid waste were removed from the site and shipped toa landfill in New Jersey. During this time period, sludges and drums of waste were buried in theEEA in clay-lined pits. In 1976, local residents filed a suit against Galaxy Chemicals Companyand Maryland Sand and Gravelstone Company for alleged damages resulting from odors emittedfrom the site (1,2).

In 1979, EPA and Maryland DNR officials inspected the site and obtained samples of soil,surface water, and shallow groundwater. In 1980, the Maryland Department of Health andMental Hygiene (DHMH) established 5 groundwater monitoring wells in the EEA. In 1982,Ecology and Environment, Inc., was contracted by EPA to conduct a preliminary assessment andsite inspection at MSGS. Samples of on-site groundwater and surface water were analyzed aspart of this investigation. Water samples from 4 off-site residential wells were also sampled andanalyzed as part of the preliminary assessment (1).

The site was proposed for inclusion on the National Priorities List (NPL) in December 1982,andwas added to the list in September 1984. The NPL is a list of all Superfund hazardouswastesites in the United States. Sites are added to the list if they achieve a certain score based on aranking system that is applied to all potential Superfund sites. Once a site is added to theSuperfund list, a series of mandatory steps are initiated that eventually lead to site clean-up. Thefirst step is the completion of a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) which involvesa determination of the nature and extent of site contamination and a detailed analysis of remedial(clean-up) alternatives. Following completion of the RI/FS, EPA issues a Record of Decision(ROD) in which they select one of the remedial alternatives proposed for the site.

The Phase I RI/FS was completed in September 1985, and a Record of Decision (ROD) forPhase I was issued on September 30, 1985. The clean-up remedy for Phase I provided for: 1)the removal of buried material; 2) the construction of a fence around the most heavilycontaminated portions of the EEA as part of remedial work outlined in an April 1988 ConsentDecree; and 3) the installation of shallow groundwater interceptor trenches to collect thecontaminated groundwater and leachate for treatment at a treatment plant to be built on site (3).

Portions of this phase which have been completed include: 1) removal of an estimated 1,200steel drums of waste and 2 cement mixers containing waste; 2) installation of a fence around theEEA (completed in 1988); and 3) initiation of a treatability study to determine the location andtype of groundwater collection and treatment system.

A ROD for Phase II was issued in September 1990. The remedy that was chosen includes aregular schedule of on-site and off-site groundwater monitoring (4). On-site monitoring willinclude groundwater from the middle sand, lower sand, and bedrock units. Off-site monitoringwill be conducted using 4 private wells that were selected to maximize the likelihood ofdetecting any contaminants from the MSGS site. These wells are currently providing potablewater to both residences and businesses. On-site and/or off-site point-of-use water treatmentwill be used if it is determined to be necessary (e.g., if contaminants reach an off-sitewell inconcentrations that exceed drinking water standards or guidelines). As of December 17, 1993, 4new monitoring wells have been drilled in the EEA: 4 are drilled into the middle sand unit, and1 is drilled into the lower sand unit. Four quarterly sampling events for on-site and off-site wellshave been completed. The results are discussed in the Environmental Contamination and OtherHazards section of this document. A borehole investigation has been completed at possiblelocations of 3 interceptor trenches for groundwater in the upper sand unit. Additionally, EPAhas notified the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) that a removal action for buried sludgemay be pending. EPA is currently developing an order requiring removal of buried sludge.

One of the objectives for Phase II was to determine whether waste disposal had occurred intheWEA. The results of geophysical studies, surface soil sampling, and the shallow boring analysisconducted in the WEA indicate that waste disposal did not occur in this area (5). Based on thesefindings, no further investigation nor remedial activity should be necessary for the WEA. PhaseIII, the final phase of the RI/FS, will address contaminated soils in the EEA, site closure, andpost-closure activities. A separate proposed plan will be issued in the future when the remedialinvestigation associated with Phase III is completed.

A Preliminary Health Assessment for the MSGS site was completed by MDE, in cooperationwith ATSDR, in February 1989 (6). In the report, MDE recommended that measures be takenduring the site remediation process to prevent the inhalation of contaminants(volatilized oradhering to particulates) by workers or nearby residents.

B. SITE VISIT

Staff from MDE's risk assessment office initially visited the site in November 1988 and afollow-up visit was made on October 8, 1991. The October visit was made by Peter Ashley andDavid Healy of MDE in the company of Charles Smyser, an employee of the Cecil CountyHealth Department, and George Murray, the site manager for Clean Sites. Clean Sites has beenhired by the Potential Responsible Parties (companies that have been identified as disposing ofhazardous materials on the site) to coordinate the RI/FS process. Current conditions of the sitehave not changed since the October 1991 site visit; therefore, the observations that were noted atthat time are discussed.

The following observations were made during the October 1991 inspection:

    - The EEA (the area of the site with surface contamination) is surrounded by a barbedwire-topped, chain link fence. A new section of the fence was erected in 1990 on theinside of a section of the original fence that had been undermined by soil erosion.

    - A security guard is stationed at the site 24 hours a day.

    - Shallow, standing water was observed in the 3 ponds located within the EEA.

    - Overpacked drums are being stored on a concrete decontamination pad that was builtwithin the EEA.

    - There are a number of empty, above ground plastic swimming pools within the EEAthat had been used to store water purged from monitoring wells.

    - Strong chemical odors were detected at 2 locations within the EEA: at a seepdowngradient from pond PO1 and at an interceptor trench in the Sedge Meadow area.

    - There were no signs that the site had been recently trespassed upon.

Site trespass posed a problem on the site in the past. The MSGS site was used forrecreationalpurposes by all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) riders, motorcyclists, and occasionally by hunters. Therewere occasions on which relatively large numbers of ATV riders were observed on the site. TheMaryland State Police were summoned on several occasions to escort trespassers from the site. Before site access was restricted, there were reports of equipment being vandalized on the site. This equipment included test well covers and vehicles that were being used for site remediation.

Dirt roads that enter the WEA from Marley road have been blocked with mounded soil andditches to prevent site access by dirt bikes and ATVs.

As of December 17, 1993, site conditions had changed. New monitoring wells have beendrilledat the EEA. Borehole investigations have been conducted at 3 locations of the site. Removal ofsite sludges is pending.

C. DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, ANDNATURAL RESOURCE USE

Demographics
Based on the 1990 Census, Cecil county has a total population of 71,347 people. A total of94.5% of this population is white, 4.5% of the population is black, and the remaining 1% is ofmixed racial origin. The median age for the countypopulation based on the 1990 Census is 32.6years, up from 29.6 years in 1980. Approximately 27% of the population is under age 18, 62%are 18 to 64 years of age, and 10% are greater than 65 years. The average population density ofCecil County is 205 persons per square mile. Elkton, a town of 9,073 residents (1990 Censusreport), is about 3 miles east of the site. The town of North East is about 2 miles southwest ofthe site and has a population of 1,913 people (1990 Census).

Land Use
The area around the site is zoned primarily for low and medium density residential development. There are approximately 150 residences, housing about 575 persons within a 1-mile radius of thesite. All of these residences depend on groundwater for their source of potable water. Some ofthe land near the site is also zoned for general commercial and industrial development. Anindustrial park is located about 1.5 miles east-north east of the site.

Private residences border the Western Excavated Area (WEA) along Marley Road. Residencesare also found north of the site along Marley and Nottingham Roads, with the closest residencesfound 600 to 800 feet from the EEA. A YMCA is located approximately 0.5 miles south of thesite along Route 40.

A considerable amount of land near the site is also used for agricultural purposes, includingbothcropland and pasture.

Natural Resource Use
Residential and commercial users of groundwater in Cecil County draw water from two majoraquifers (an aquifer is permeable rock or other material through which water moves below theearth's surface). The upper aquifer is called the Potomac Group and consists of unconsolidatedsediments of sand, gravel, silt, and clay. The lower aquifer is fractured bedrock. The State ofMaryland water well database reveals that 259 wells were installed in the vicinity of MSGS(about 0.8 miles north, 1.9 miles east, 1 mile south, and 1 mile west) from 1969 to 1986 (5). Most of the wells (142) were screened in the Potomac Group at depths ranging from 37 to 215feet. The rest include deeper bedrock wells and shallow dug wells and range from 20 to 500 ft.deep.

Two large groundwater users within 2 miles of MSGS include the Thiokol ChemicalCompany,about 1.5 miles east of the site, and the Town and Country Mobile Park, about 0.8 miles west ofthe site. The town of Elkton obtains most of its public water supply from surface water, but alsouses 2 wells (5). Both wells are more than 4 miles east of the site. The town of North East usessurface water (from Little Northeast Creek) exclusively for its public water supply.

Much of the land in the area around the site is forested. The boundary of Elk Neck StateForestlies about 1 mile south of the site. Mill Creek, which receives surface runoff from the site, is notused for recreational fishing because it is too small to support game fish (4,7).

D. HEALTH OUTCOME DATA

Available health data bases can be used to determine whether or not certain health effectsoccurmore frequently in Cecil County than in the State of Maryland as a whole. This sectiondescribes these data bases; evaluation of the data bases occurs in the Public HealthImplicationssection of this document.

DHMH is currently in the process of gathering cancer incidence data dating back to 1983. Comparative cancer incidence data (the number of new cancer cases diagnosed during a giventime period) for the local (zip-code or census tract), county, and state levels are projected to beavailable in the future.

The birth defects registry at DHMH has incidence data available for the period 1984 to 1988;however, the data are limited to 13 sentinel birth defects that are reportable by law. These dataare available at the county level.

Vital statistics (births and deaths) reports are available for Maryland counties from the early1960s through 1987.


COMMUNITYHEALTH CONCERNS

Two public meetings have been held to address concerns of residents living in the vicinity oftheMSGS site. On September 20, 1989, a public meeting was held concerning drum removal at thesite. Although the meeting was attended by representatives from MDE and EPA, no one fromthe community attended.

A second public hearing, held on June 25, 1990, was attended by twenty-five members of thecommunity. A brief presentation was made that included the site history and an explanation ofthe remediation plans. There were no public health concerns expressed by members of thecommunity who attended the meeting. Officials with the Cecil County Health Department werecontacted in October 1991, but they were unaware of any community health concerns.

Local residents have expressed site-related health concerns in the past. In EPA'sPreliminaryAssessment of the site, it was noted that local citizens had complained of "odors andresultinghealth problems" (1). In 1976, local residents filed a lawsuit against Galaxy ChemicalsCompany and Maryland Sand and Gravelstone Company for alleged damages from odorsemitted from the site (1,2). It was also noted that state inspectors complained of eye and throatirritation from exposure to airborne contaminants during site visits in May 1976 and again inJuly 1979.

This public health assessment was released for public comment from January 25, 1993, toFebruary 26, 1993. Health-related questions and concerns that were received during the publiccomment period on the draft public health assessment for the MSGS site are addressed inAppendix B of this document.



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