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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

HRANICA LANDFILL
BUFFALO TOWNSHIP, BUTLER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA


SUMMARY

The Hranica Site is a National Priorities List (NPL) site located south of the village of Sarver on Ekastown Road in Buffalo Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania. The site (15 acres) is surrounded by active agricultural areas including field crops and orchards. It is estimated that a total population of 1,000 people live within a 1-mile radius of the site. Between 1966 and 1974, the site was used as drum disposal and waste incineration facility. Disposal practices consisted of a combination of incineration and surface impoundment storage. Ash residue from the open burning was stored in unprotected piles on site.

The landfill accepted industrial and municipal wastes from 1966 to 1974. Industrial wastes include paint and solvent materials, plating wastes, metal sludges, and waste oils. A surface clean up of the site was performed in 1983-1984 which involved the removal and disposal of over 19,000 drums and 4,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. Following these waste remedial tasks, grading and soil capping were performed. In 1987, PPG Industries signed an Administrative Order of Consent with the EPA to perform a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) of the site. On-site groundwater and soil analyses indicate the presence of several volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds and metals. Off-site wells (monitoring and domestic wells), surface water, and sediments have been found to be contaminated with several chemicals.

Based on the information reviewed, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have concluded that this site represents an indeterminate public health hazard since the data do not indicate that humans are being or have been exposed to levels of contaminants that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. Human exposure to site-related contaminants may occur through ingestion, dermal contact, or inhalation should the chemicals migrate into the potable water supplies of residential wells. Additionally, a potential exposure may exist through ingestion and dermal contact should people enter the site. Also, the site workers could become exposed through any remediation activities in the future. Furthermore, a potential exposure may occur through ingestion of contaminated food crops. This site is not being considered for follow-up health activities at this time. A public health action plan has been developed to address all concerns and recommendations of the public health assessment, except for those related to the potential for contamination of food crops.


BACKGROUND

A. SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY

The Hranica site is a National Priorities List site (15-acre former landfill) located south of the village of Sarver on Ekastown Road in Buffalo Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania (see Appendix 1). It is surrounded by cornfields, orchards and wooded areas. The site sits at the head of a narrow east-northeast trending ravine. A small unnamed tributary of Little Bull Creek discharges intermittently on-site through this ravine. Along the central portion of the ravine is an arcuate, flat-lying bench which is the former landfill area. The intermittent flow through the unnamed tributary to Little Bull Creek is made up of a combination of surface runoff and infiltration/seeps from the Morgantown aquifer. To the west of the site, an unnamed tributary of McDowell Run flows south through a narrow, steep valley. In the south-central section of the site, a residual ash mound rests on bedrock. Earlier reports indicate that the mound contains nearly 2,800 cubic yards of ash product from incineration practices. Local clayey-soil material was used to construct a protective cap on the approximately 26,000 square foot ash pile. Crown vetch forms the vegetated cover in the capped areas. (1)

Between 1966 and 1974, one owner, and possibly others, operated the site. Initially, disposal practices consisted of a combination of incineration and surface impoundment storage. The incineration of waste was suppressed at the request of the Butler County Health Department. Thereafter, the owner disposed of liquid waste by direct discharge into surface impoundments. Reportedly, contaminants and solvent-like odors were discovered in discharges from a spring on an adjacent property five weeks after the initiation of the liquid disposal practice. Subsequently, the owner purchased large metal vats and started incinerating liquid wastes in them. The ash residue from this open burning procedure was stored in unprotected piles on the site.

The disposal site accepted industrial and municipal wastes from 1966 to 1974. (1) Industrial waste included paint and solvent materials, shipped from the PPG plant facility in Springdale, Pennsylvania, and the PPG Research and Development Center in Allison Park, Pennsylvania. Plating wastes, metal sludges, and waste oils were shipped from an Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) facility at Logans Ferry, Pennsylvania. (2)

On February 28, 1973, the owner signed a consent decree permitting continued operation of the site concurrent with the completion of various Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER) compliance requirements for department issuance of a solid waste permit. The receipt of wastes was curtailed the following year. The site was included on the National Priorities List in September of 1983, but had been the subject of investigations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and PADER as early as April 1981. The investigations mainly consisted of collections of surface water samples, including spring discharges, and landfill seepage . The analytical results indicated contamination. An additional site investigation was completed in 1982 as a voluntary action by PPG because it was a potentially responsible party for contamination. This investigation included multiple surface and subsurface sampling of soil and aqueous media. The analytical results of the samples were similar to that of EPA's and PADER's testing and suggested contamination.

Between 1983 and 1984, PPG and ALCOA engaged a waste management consultant, D'Appolonia, to perform a surface clean up at the Hranica site. The program resulted in the removal of over 19,000 drums and 4,000 cubic yards of excavated soil to a regulated-secure waste management facility. Three tanks containing oils and paint sludges were also taken to an off-site regulated facility for disposal. Following these waste remediation tasks, grading, and capping of the soil were completed. This program resulted in a reduction of environmental impairment and potential migration of chemicals.

Following closure and remediation activities of the site in 1984, PPG engaged Earth Science Consultants to conduct an environmental monitoring program. The program consisted of quarterly sampling of monitoring wells that were constructed in 1982 and the sampling of a number of surface water stations and spring discharges. Sampling was conducted in July 1986. The information obtained in the study was used in the preparation of the Comprehensive Site Investigation Report in July 1987 by International Technology Corporation (ITC). ITC also prepared a Data Gaps Summary Report for the site in January 1987. The Data Gaps Summary Report addressed site waste characterization, hydrogeology, soil and sediments, surface water, and air emission concerns. The Phase II Comprehensive Site Investigation and Endangerment Assessment were prepared by Dunn Geoscience Corporation for PPG with input from EPA. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) issued a Preliminary Health Assessment on this site in November 1988. The Record of Decision (ROD) for this site was signed by EPA on June 29, 1990. Details of the ROD, as they relate to the conclusions and recommendations of this public health assessment, are presented in the Public Health Actions Section.

B. SITE VISIT

On April 26, 1990, a site visit was conducted by staff from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH); personnel from EPA; the ATSDR Regional Representative; and representatives of PPG, ALCOA, and International Technology (IT) Corporation. The site had unrestricted access to the general public. The team gained access to the site from the east along Hranica Drive which is off Ekaston Road. It was a clear, sunny and mild day. The terrain was uneven with many hills and small valleys. The site is surrounded by active agricultural areas including a large cornfield and farm west of the site and an orchard running southeast along the site. On the day of the site visit, a farmer was preparing the cornfield on his tractor.

The site is still littered with metal tanks, old machinery, and miscellaneous debris, trash and waste (including medical waste, e.g., parts of syringes). An area of special concern at the site was the "ash pile area." Although the ash pile area has been "capped," concern was raised during the site visit that disturbance of the capped area by trespassers and others could easily undo the intended remedial work on the site.

The EPA Remedial Project Officer (RPM) was contacted in December 1991 to determine if any significant changes have occurred at the site since the 1990 site visits—no significant changes have occurred at the site.

C. DEMOGRAPHICS, LAND USE, AND NATURAL RESOURCE USE

According to a 1980 Butler County census survey, approximately 6,400 people reside in Buffalo Township. Estimates for 1990 project a population of nearly 6,600. The township occupies 23.9 square miles of which approximately 25 percent is under agricultural use. Nearly all residences near the site are served by municipal water supplies. About four homes are located within about 400 yards of the site. Several other homes are located within a one mile radius along Ekastown Road.

D. State and Local Health Data

An evaluation of health outcome data was not performed for this public health assessment (see Public Health Implications Section--Health Outcome Data Evaluation for details).


COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

There are no known organized citizen groups in the area. It was reported by a RPM of EPA that public interest or concern about the site was low. A notice was placed in the Valley News Dispatch newspaper, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on July 10, 1991, informing the public of the availability of the public health assessment report on the Hranica Landfill, Butler County, and requested them to provide comments on the report by August 15, 1991. During the public comment period, no comments on the public health assessment were received by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.


ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION AND OTHER HAZARDS

Toxic Chemical Release Inventory:

We conducted a search of the EPA Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) for the site and local area but TRI did not list any facilities having chemical releases.

A. ON-SITE CONTAMINATION

The sampling data (November/December 1988 and April 1989) indicate that groundwater contamination occurs at the site (Table 1). Several volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds and metals were detected in the groundwater. Groundwater samples for metals analyses were filtered directly through an in-line filter apparatus.

TABLE 1. On-Site Contamination (Selected Chemicals)

Chemicals Monitoring Wells/Ground Water Wells
Concentration Range (mg/L)
Toluene ND-12
Methylene chloride ND-.018
Benzene ND-.037
Ethylbenzene ND-17
Total Xylenes ND-54
Trichloroethylene ND-.049
Tetrachloroethylene ND-.006
Napthalene ND-.23
2-Methylnapthalene ND-.17
Dibenzofuran ND-.028
Aluminum ND-157
Antimony ND-.072
Arsenic ND-.0219
Cadmium ND-.0432
Chromium ND-.228
Cobalt ND-.409
Lead ND-.15
Mercury ND-.00021
Nickel ND-.337
Vanadium ND-.354
Zinc ND-.227
Cyanide ND-.033

ND = Not detected

On-site soil data (September/October 1988) indicate the presence of several chemicals (Table 2).


TABLE 2. On-Site Contamination (Selected Chemicals)

Chemicals

Soil1
Concentration Range (mg/kg)

Toluene ND-.017b
Ethylbenzene
ND-.035
Total Xylenes
ND-4000
Tetrachloroethylene
ND-.23
Trichloroethylene
ND-.073
1,1,1-Trichloroethane
ND-.011
Napthalene
ND-31.0
2-Methylnapthalene
ND-4.6
4,4'-DDE
ND-.073
PCB 1254/1260
ND-17.0
Aluminum
5450-13900
Arsenic
2.8-11.8
Cadmium
ND-374
Chromium
7.8-382
Cobalt
5.1-91.7
Lead
9.1-8620
Mercury
ND-4.6
Nickel
6.1-31.5
Selenium
ND-127
Vanadium
ND-20.1
Zinc
37.5-4950
Cyanide
ND-2.8

ND = Not detected or above quantitative limit
1 = Depth of soil is from 0 to 3 feet
b = Found in the method blank and sample

B. Off-Site Contamination

Contaminant concentrations are measured in groundwater at six off-site wells: five domestic wells and one monitoring well. All wells were sampled by Dunn Geoscience Corporation in November/December 1988 and April 1989 (Table 3). Domestic and monitoring well water samples for metals analyses were filtered directly through an in-line filter apparatus.

TABLE 3. Off-Site Contamination (Selected Chemicals)

Chemicals

Domestic Wells Monitoring Well
Concentration Range
(filtered samples)
(mg/L)

Monitoring Well
Concentration Range
(filtered samples)
(mg/L)
Methylene Chloride
NA-BD
BD-.014
Toluene
NR
BD
Benzene
NR
ND-BD
Ethylbenzene
NR
ND
Total Xylenes
NR
ND-.006
Trichloroethylene
NR
ND-BD
Tetrachloroethylene
NR
ND-BD
Napthalene
NR
ND
2-Methylnapthalene
NR
ND
Dibenzofuran
NR
ND
Aluminum
NA-BD
ND
Arsenic
NA-BD
ND
Cadmium
NA-BD
ND
Chromium
NA-BD
ND
Cobalt
NA-BD
ND
Lead
NA-BD
ND
Mercury
NA-.0077a
ND
Nickel
NA-BD
ND
Selenium
NA-BD
ND
Vanadium
NA-BD
ND
Zinc
NA-.329
.025-.0406
Cyanide
NA-BD
ND

ND = Not detected
NA = Not analyzed
NR = Not reported
BD = Below detection limit
a = Detected in one well but this level was not confirmed during the second round of sampling.

Contaminant concentrations were measured in 11 off-site sediment samples and 14 off-site surface water samples by Dunn Geoscience Corporation in November/December 1988 and April 1989 (Table 4). Surface water samples for metals analyses were filtered.

TABLE 4. Off-Site Contamination (Selected Chemicals)

Chemicals

Surface Water
Concentration Range
(mg/L)

Sediment
Concentration Range
(mg/kg)

Methylene Chloride
ND-.071
ND-.46
Fluoranthene
NR
ND-.54
Pyrene NR ND-.73
PCB 1254 NR ND-3.5
Aluminum BD-5.13 6380-18400
Arsenic BD-NA 4-19.2
Cadmium BD-NA BD-4.8
Chromium BD-NA 11.9-34.2
Cobalt BD-.156 BD-25.6
Lead BD-.056 12.3-162
Mercury BD-NA BD-.94
Nickel BD-.133 12.9-31.8
Selenium BD-NA BD-1.4
Vanadium BD-NA BD-38.3
Zinc BD-20.6 43.5-447
Cyanide BD-NA BD-5.8

ND = Not detected at or above quantitative limit
NA = Not analyzed
NR = Not reported
BD = Below detection limit

C. QUALITY ASSURANCE AND QUALITY CONTROL

In preparing this public health assessment, PADOH relies on the information provided in the referenced documents and assumes that adequate quality assurance and quality control measures were followed regarding chain-of-custody, laboratory procedures, and data reporting validity of the analyses and conclusions drawn for this public health assessment is determined by the availability and reliability of the referenced information.

D. PHYSICAL AND OTHER HAZARDS

The site has unrestricted access to the public. The site is littered with metal tanks, old machinery, parts of syringes, and other items; therefore, the site poses a physical hazard.


PATHWAYS ANALYSES

A. ENVIRONMENTAL PATHWAYS (FATE AND TRANSPORT)

The groundwater has been contaminated with metals, volatile organic compounds, and other chemical compounds. Movement of contaminated groundwater may adversely affect the quality of potable water; however, the on-site ground water does not currently serve as a potable water supply. The uppermost water-bearing unit at the site is a perched aquifer of limited aerial extent in the Morgantown Sandstone, which will not provide adequate yield for residential use.

Current off-site residential wells apparently derive their source of water from the fractured bedrock groundwater flow system in the Buffalo and Saltsburg Sandstones. Current data do not indicate that residential wells near the site are significantly contaminated with chemicals except for mercury. The contamination of mercury (7.7 ug/L) was observed in one well, but this level was not confirmed during the second time sampling. The site's surface soil is contaminated with volatile and semi-volatile organics, and metals. Precipitation runoff may erode soil contaminants and transport them over land to drainage features. Contaminants are also leached from surface soils to the subsurface and are transported with groundwater to its points of discharge. Vehicles entering the property may track out contaminants onto area roads. Future additional remedial activities or on-site and off-site developmental activities may expose contaminants below groundwater surface to runoff or airborne transport.

Surface runoff becomes contaminated as it accumulates contaminated particles or dissolved contaminants from the ground surface and carries them off the property. Unnamed tributaries of McDowell and Little Bull Creek drain the site. Flows are intermittent. These tributaries may be used for fishing and other recreational activities.

B. HUMAN EXPOSURE PATHWAYS

There is no current use of groundwater on-site. Various organic compounds in the off-site domestic and groundwater monitoring wells were either not detected or at concentrations below levels of public health concern. However, this is not true for metals because all the water samples were filtered prior to metals analyses. Filtration of these samples irreparably compromised the inorganic results and are considered invalid and not appropriate for use in a public health assessment. Based on available data and information, those residents who use their well water for drinking, cooking and other household purposes are not exposed to organic contaminants through ingestion, dermal contact and inhalation at levels of public health concern. However, the potential exists that contaminant levels may increase in the future.

The site is not fenced; therefore, the public has easy access to the site. Trespassers may come in contact with soil contaminants, particularly with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) and lead. Contact with contaminated soil may result in exposures by ingestion, dermal absorption or inhalation. Without personal protection equipment, workers possibly would be exposed to contaminated soil and fugitive dust through dermal contact, indirect ingestion and inhalation, if additional remedial activities are conducted.

Food chain entities possibly contain site contaminants and consumption of those could result in exposure via ingestion. Individuals at potential risk of such exposure may include farmers or gardeners and their families or customers consuming crops that may be contaminated with site-related chemicals. Data concerning contaminant concentrations in food crops are not available; therefore, it is not possible to evaluate whether or not exposure is occurring through consumption of contaminated food crops. The use of contaminated surface water bodies (unnamed tributaries of McDowell and Little Bull Creek) for recreational activities, such as swimming, wading, etc., may result in exposures such as dermal contact, inhalation, and indirect ingestion. However, based on data in Table 4, it is unlikely that exposure would occur at levels of public health concern.


PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS

A. Toxicological Evaluation

Since the on-site groundwater is not used, there is no threat to public health. Remedial workers involved in long-term pumping and treating of groundwater possibly could receive exposures such as dermal contact. However, this pathway probably would not result in exposures at levels of public health concern if proper personal protection equipment is used.

The current levels of contaminants detected in the off-site domestic wells and groundwater wells is not likely to cause any public health concern when used for drinking, cooking, and other household purposes. However, because the water samples from the domestic wells were filtered before analysis, the actual exposure concentrations, and hence the public health implications, related to exposure to metals cannot be determined at this time.

The levels of contaminants detected, particularly PCB's and lead, in the soil may pose a significant threat to trespassers and on-site workers. PCB's have been shown to be carcinogenic in animals. Therefore, the potential exists that this chemical may be carcinogenic in humans. Furthermore, studies of exposures to PCB's by humans, usually at levels greater than seen at the site, have shown impaired reproduction in women, minor birth abnormalities when exposure occurs during pregnancy, and some skin types pigmentation. (3) Exposure to lead via ingestion may produce toxic effects. Results of a growing number of studies indicate that chronic exposure to low levels of lead is associated with altered neurophysiological performance and the young child is particularly vulnerable to this effect. (4) Therefore, exposure to these chemicals should be avoided or reduced. However, it is difficult to determine the actual levels of potential exposure because soil samples were obtained from a 0-3 feet range. An exposure scenario of public health concern would be if these contaminant concentrations were within a 0-3 inch soil depth; however, these data are not available. Furthermore, the current exposure scenario is likely not a concern because these soils have been or will be covered with soil in the near future (see Public Health Actions).

B. Health Outcome Data Evaluation

No documented exposure pathways exist at the site. Therefore, no evaluation of plausible adverse health outcomes were conducted. In addition, the community has not expressed concern about adverse health outcomes associated with this site. Therefore, no evaluation of health outcome data were conducted at this time.

C. Community Health Concerns Evaluation

No community health concerns have been discerned during the preparation of this public health assessment.


CONCLUSIONS

Based on the information reviewed, PADOH and ATSDR have concluded that this site represents an indeterminate public health hazard since the data do not indicate that humans are being or have been exposed to levels of contaminants that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. Human exposure to site-related contaminants may occur through ingestion, dermal contact, or inhalation should the chemicals migrate into the potable water supplies of residential wells. Additionally, a potential exposure may exist through ingestion and dermal contact should people enter the site. Also, the site workers could become exposed through any remediation activities in the future. Furthermore, a potential exposure may occur through ingestion of contaminated food crops.


RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Perform resampling, and subsequent analysis of unfiltered samples (heavy metals), of water from nearby residential private wells to determine the actual exposure concentrations by residents using groundwater for domestic purposes.

  2. Groundwater and surface water monitoring should be performed to verify that the water quality does not deteriorate with time. Unfiltered water samples should be used for metal analysis.

  3. Access to the site should be restricted to prevent contact with chemicals of concern and to prevent the soil cover disturbances.

  4. Site workers should wear protective clothing capable of reducing dermal exposure to contaminants. The use of proper respiratory equipment is recommended to reduce inhalation exposure to volatile organics.

  5. Occasionally, the site should be examined to see if the soil cover is breached and to see if significant erosion is occurring.

  6. Because of the proximity of apple orchards to the site, contaminant analyses of crops should be performed.

Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) Recommendation

The Hranica Landfill, Butler County, Pennsylvania, has been evaluated by ATSDR's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) for appropriate follow-up with respect to health activities. This site is not being considered for follow-up health activities at this time. However, if data or information become available suggesting that human exposure to hazardous substances, at levels of public health concern, is currently occurring or has occurred in the past, ATSDR will reevaluate this site for any indicated follow-up.


PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS

Public Health Actions Planned:

Based on the recommendations of HARP, ATSDR is not planning any follow-up health activities at this time. The EPA, through its June 1990 ROD, has indicated that they plan to take the following actions related to the recommendations in this public health assessment (5,6):

  1. EPA plans to resample water from nearby residential private wells to determine the actual exposure concentrations by residents using groundwater for domestic purposes. This action should be implemented by the end of April 1992.

  2. EPA plans to perform groundwater and surface water monitoring to verify that the water quality does not deteriorate with time. These actions should be implemented by the end of April 1992.

  3. EPA plans to fence the site by the end of 1992. This action should prevent contact with contaminants of concern and to prevent soil cover disturbances.

  4. EPA plans to patch the landfill soil cover and to implement a soil cover maintenance program. This should eliminate the possibility of erosion, and subsequent breaches, of soil cover.

ATSDR will coordinate with the appropriate agencies regarding actions to be taken in response to those recommendations provided in this public health assessment for which no plan of action has yet been developed.


PREPARERS OF THE REPORT

Kandiah Sivarajah, Ph.D.
Director, Health Assessment Program
and State Toxicologist
Toxicology and Health Assessment Section
Division of Environmental Health
Pennsylvania Department of Health

James N. Logue, Dr.P.H.
Epidemiologist
Director
Division of Environmental Health
Pennsylvania Department of Health


ATSDR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

Charles Walters
Public Health Advisor
Regional Operations
Office of the Assistant Administrator, ATSDR


ATSDR TECHNICAL PROJECT OFFICER

Gregory V. Ulirsch
Environmental Health Engineer
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Remedial Programs Branch


CERTIFICATION

This public health assessment was prepared by the State of Pennsylvania Department of Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public health assessment was initiated.

Gregory V. Ulirsch
Technical Project Officer, SPS, RPB, DHAC


The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC), ATSDR, has reviewed this public health assessment and concurs with its findings.

Director, DHAC, ATSDR


REFERENCES

  1. Dunn Geoscience Corporation (prepared for PPG Industries, Inc.). Phase III Comprehensive Site Investigation and Endangerment Assessment, Hranica Site, Buffalo Township, Pennsylvania, January 15, 1990.

  2. Remco, Inc. (prepared for PPG Industries, Inc.). Feasibility Study, Hranica Site, Butler County, Pennsylvania, February 1990.

  3. ATSDR, U.S. Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia. Toxicological Profile for Polychlorinated Biphenyls, June 1989.

  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Public Health Service/ Centers for Disease Control. Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children, January 1985.

  5. U.S. EPA. Record of Decision for the Hranica Landfill site, June 29, 1990.

  6. Personal Communication. EPA Remedial Project Manager, November 1, 1991.

APPENDIX 1

Area Map
Figure 1. Area Map


Table of Contents

  
 
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