PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
BRESLUBE-PENN INC., SUPERFUND SITE
MOON TOWNSHIP, ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
The Breslube-Penn Inc.,(Breslube) Superfund site (the Site) in Moon Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, was proposed for listing on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List (NPL, or Superfund) in September 1994. The Site was used as an oil recycling facility before operators vacated it in about 1992.
EPA conducted a removal action at the Site in the summer of 1994 to remove 6,374 tons of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated soil and waste clay filter cake. This material had been deposited on site in a pile measuring 40 feet wide by 145 feet long by 30 feet high before operators vacated the Site.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) concludes that the Site is no apparent public health hazard. There are no known exposure pathways at the Site that have a significant impact on public health. There are no organized or ad hoc groups in the area seeking relief or redress from health problems perceived to be caused by the Site.
PADOH recommends that EPA characterize the Site more fully by doing the following:
- Sample on-site surface (0-3") soils near the former pile of PCB-contaminated soil to be sure that no residual PCBs remain at levels of public health concern; if harmful levels of PCBs are found then this area should be secured with a fence or capped to prevent human exposures to PCBs.
- Sample Montour Run near the site for lead in surface water and PCBs in sediment; if lead and PCBs are found at levels of public health concern, post warning signs for people.
The data and information developed in the Breslube-Penn Inc., Site Public Health Assessment have been evaluated for appropriate follow-up health actions by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP). HARP determined that people are not being exposed to contaminants at the site at levels that would be expected to cause illness. Therefore, no follow-up health actions are needed at this time. ATSDR will reevaluate this site for additional follow-up public health actions if new data become available that indicate a need to do so.
The Breslube-Penn Inc., Superfund site (the Site) occupies a flat, five-acre tract of land on Montour Road in the Montour Run floodplain, Moon Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, just southeast of Coraopolis Borough (Appendix A, Figures 1 and 2). A steep hillside borders it on the north and west. To the south and east, Montour Run flows generally northward to the Ohio River Back Channel about one mile downstream. A metal salvage business is positioned to the west-southwest. A railroad grade that has been converted to a hiking and biking trail ("Rails-to-Trails") lies between the Site and Montour Run. The Site is zoned M-1, Industrial.
Areally, the Site is oblong with the major axis lying southwest/northeast. Two on-site homes, reportedly vacated around 1992, were destroyed by fire sometime in 1993. Most of the original structures used when the Site was active, except for three 30,000-gallon upright liquid storage tanks within a spill containment dike, have been razed and/or removed. The tanks are essentially empty, except for some water covered with a thin layer of oil in the bottom, and are partially surrounded by a chain link fence about four feet high.
From the literature reviewed, it is not clear when industrial operations began at the Site. In the mid-1970s American Tallow conducted meat-rendering operations there until about 1977.
Wiseman Oil Company bought the Site in 1977 and operated a waste oil processing and reclamation facility until about 1982 (1). These operations produced a filtering agent clay waste that was discharged from a filter press as filter cake. Approximately 20 tons of filter cake were staged on site and covered with one foot of soil borrowed from the hillside next to the Site (2).
Breslube-Penn, Inc., (Breslube) then acquired the Site and continued operating the waste oil processing and reclamation until about 1986, when the Site was converted to a waste oil transfer station. In November 1987, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP - formerly the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources) issued a Consent Order to Breslube that contained provisions to mothball and/or decommission process equipment and tankage (including the removal of contaminated soils and tank bottom sludges), to establish a storm water management program, and to set up a groundwater monitoring program (3).
Breslube responded to the Consent Order by closing its oil/water separators, removing debris and scrap from the property, and draining the 10 large storage tanks (ranging from 100,000 to 500,000 gallons in capacity) and 35 small storage tanks (ranging from 2,000 to 30,000-gallons in capacity) of their waste oils and waste oil sludges. Pumpable material was removed from the tanks. The sludge and liquids that remained in the tanks were solidified with quicklime and staged on site (2).
On October 27, 1988, NUS Corporation's Field Investigation Team 3 (FIT 3) made a site inspection at the Site for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). FIT 3 sampled on-site soils, on-site groundwater, receiving surface waters, off-site groundwater, and off-site stream sediments (1). None of the on-site soils samples were clearly designated as surface (0-3") soils.
FIT 3 conducted an expanded site inspection at the Site on April 10, 1991. Almost all of the structures had been removed by this time, except for two homes and three upright storage tanks. FIT 3 sampled on-site soils, on-site groundwater, and receiving surface waters. Again, none of the on-site soils samples were clearly designated as surface (0-3") soils. At that time, a large waste pile (approximately 147.5 by 90 by 59 feet high) had been created in the western part of the property, near the curved steep hillside. According to a Breslube representative, the pile contained excavated soil from an area of previously staged contaminated waste and media from a staged filter cake area (2).
In late 1991 or early 1992 industrial operations at the facility ceased, and by mid-1993, EPA was taking action to remove the contaminated waste pile from the site. EPA and its contractor, Roy F. Weston, Inc., Technical Assistance Team (TAT) measured the pile to be 145 by 40 by 30 feet high and sampled the waste on June 14, 1993. They found polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the pile at levels that warranted a removal action (4).
On June 14, 1994, EPA and its removal contractors mobilized to the Site. By the time all parties had demobilized from the Site on August 23, 1994, EPA had removed a total of 6,374 tons of PCB-contaminated soil and disposed of it at sites in Ohio and New York states (4). EPA did not cap the ground beneath the removed pile with clean fill following the removal action to avoid contaminating the clean fill (5).
Previous investigators have collected very little hydrogeologic data from the Site. Groundwater on and near the Site exists under water table (unconfined) conditions. Because topography is the major controlling factor in groundwater flow, we expect that shallow groundwater is flowing toward the southeast and Montour Run. This expectation is supported by water levels in shallow wells MW-A and MW-B (Appendix A, Figure 4) (1) that closely approximate the elevation of Montour Run. That theory is also supported by the contaminant migration pattern, which will be discussed in the Environmental Contamination and Other Hazards section, from upslope areas toward MW-A, MW-B, and MW-C. There is not enough information on deep groundwater to determine either flow direction or water quality.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health made two site visits to the Site. PADOH health assessors Mark Lavin and J. E. Godfrey made the first visit on October 12, 1995. Mr. Lavin made the second on March 22, 1996. Representatives of PADEP and PADOH's Pittsburgh regional offices attended the first visit, while representatives of EPA, TAT, and the Allegheny County Health Department attended the second. Additionally, Messrs. Lavin and Godfrey met and discussed community health concerns with officials of both Moon Township and Coraopolis Borough during the first visit. On February 27, 1997, PADOH's Mr. Lavin and Ms. Allerton returned to the Site briefly to examine conditions. The last paragraph of this section describes what they saw.
On the first visit, we approached the Site from the north on Montour Road. There is no other road access. From Pennsylvania Route 51 (State Avenue), Montour Road passes to the south, arcing around a steep hillside to the west that rises vertically about 380 feet within 700 feet horizontally. Adjacent to Montour Road on the east is an old railroad grade that has been converted to a popular jogging, hiking, and biking trail under the "Rails-to-Trails" program. East of the trail and before reaching the Site, we passed an opposing steep hill, giving us the feeling that we were entering a canyon. After we rounded the two hillside promontories, we saw the Site to our right on a flat piece of floodplain (Appendix A, Figure 2). The Site is situated behind a tall chain link fence that does not completely surround the Site. It ends at its northeastern and southwestern extremities, thus allowing easy access to the Site, especially at the northeastern end. There is no fence along the entire hillside north and west of the Site. On our left we saw Montour Run. Montour Run's floodplain and valley, which trend north and south, form the land features around the Site. As previously mentioned, Montour Run flows northward past the Site to a confluence with the Ohio River Back Channel about one mile downstream and near Neville Island. Montour Run flows to the east around the eastern hill before it resumes its northward flow.
During the first site visit many people on foot and on bicycles passed by the Site. During the second visit, the EPA representative remarked that not one person stopped to ask what was happening at the Site during the removal action described in the Site Description and History section.
Upon arrival, we met the PADEP and PADOH regional representatives, and easily entered the Site on foot at the northeastern end of the fence. The only significant manmade structures present at the approximately five-acre Site are three 30,000-gallon upright storage tanks in the northern third of the property. These are partially surrounded by a short (about four feet high) chain link fence that is open on the west. They are completely surrounded by a shallow spill containment dike filled with about two feet of water. Each tank has a manhole cut in its side at the bottom and the manhole covers are gone. Inside each tank is a layer of water of unknown depth. The water in the southmost tank has a thin layer of oil (about one-thirty second of an inch) floating atop it.
All the other large structures that were associated with either industrial operations or the two homes that were on site are gone. The EPA's decontamination shed used during the removal action remains standing. It houses five 50-gallon plastic bags full of waste plastic sheeting plus nine one-gallon cans marked with test pit numbers.
The foundations of the two former on-site homes are positioned slightly west of the storage tanks. We noted scorched trees next to one of the foundations. Later, we learned from township officials that both houses were burned by arsonists after they were vacated. An area of disturbed earth in the western part of the Site shows the position of the large pile of contaminated soil and waste filter cake removed by EPA. A smaller area of stressed vegetation is situated where the staged filter cake area used to be at the far southern portion of the Site. An area filled with rubble along the eastern edge of the property, just inside the fence, now occupies the former staged contaminated waste area. A pair of concrete pads shows where some of the tankage and guardhouse used to be (Appendix A, Figure 5) (2).
We searched for and found the on-site background monitoring wells, MW-D, MW-E, and MW-F, in the western portion of the Site, between the area of the waste pile removed by EPA and the tree line of the hillside (Appendix A, Figure 5). All wells were locked. We could not find either of the residential wells that served the on-site homes and assume that they have been covered over and/or filled.
We then examined off-site features. West and north of the Site is the undeveloped, wooded hillside. To the south and east are Montour Road, the trail, Montour Run, and, in parts, a wooded flood plain used as an archery range by a local rod and gun club. Not far from the Site, the same club has a rifle range and we could hear shots reverberating through the valley from time to time. A few of the archery targets face the Site and we found one target arrow on site, apparently from a shot that missed its mark. At the end of Montour Road, about 1,000 feet southwest of the site, there is a metal salvage yard. Across Montour Run and upstream of the Site are a few homes plus a building that appears to be a small institution.
Finally, we examined Montour Run for signs of oily discharges and found none. The stream was in low flow conditions during the first site visit.
We noted little change between the first and second site visits. The stream flow was high the second time but we still could not see any oily discharges. During the second visit, EPA and TAT representatives provided details of the removal action. They also sent us a copy of a video tape that they made during the removal action, which we reviewed in our office.
On February 27, 1997, Mr. Lavin and Ms. Allerton drove past the Site. All three upright storage tanks had been removed from the Site. Otherwise, conditions had not changed appreciably from previous visits.
The Site is in an industrially-zoned area of Moon Township on the Montour Run floodplain. According to the 1990 Census, 5,769 people reside within one mile of the Site. Of that number, 5,522 are white, 186 are black, and the remainder comprises other categories; 4,580 are 18 years of age or older. Other demographic data are shown in Appendix A, Figure 3. Most of the residential structures within one mile of the site are frame or brick-and-frame dwellings older than 16 years.
The northeast quadrant of a one-mile circle centered on the site is a residential and industrial area. The Ohio River, Neville Island, and Montour Run dominate this quadrant. The Ohio River Park Superfund site is just outside this quadrant on Neville Island in the Ohio River about 1.25 miles northwest of the Site.
The southeast quadrant is mainly rural residential and very hilly. Montour Run and the archery/firing range are in this quadrant.
The southwest quadrant is rurally residential. The Montour Run valley dominates this quadrant, which also is very hilly.
The northwest quadrant is residential. It includes the eastern part of Coraopolis Borough, a school about one-half mile west of the Site, and a park about one mile northwest of the Site.
PADOH determined community health concerns by questioning Moon Township, Coraopolis Borough, and Allegheny County Health Department officials during the site visits. PADOH also asked EPA, PADEP, and regional PADOH representatives by telephone if they knew of any community health concerns. Finally, PADOH solicited comments during a public comment period by placing a paid legal notice in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on February 10, 1997. The public comment period ended on March 21, 1997.
PADOH convened two public availability sessions on February 27, 1997, at the Moon Township offices. The sessions gave people who live near the Site an opportunity to talk to PADOH representatives and discuss the public health implications of the Site. Only one person attended to gather information and she was provided with copies of this public health assessment.
We were unable to identify any community health concerns or community involvement associated with the Site. There are no organized or ad hoc groups in the area seeking relief or redress from health problems perceived to be caused by the site.