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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

REVERE CHEMICAL COMPANY
NOCKAMIXON, BUCKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

SUMMARY

The Revere Chemical National Priorities List (NPL) site is located on the southeast side ofPennsylvania State Route 611, approximately three quarters of a mile south of the town ofRevere in Nockamixon Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The site has an area of 113.5acres and the portion used for process operations is approximately 25 acres. This area of the sitehas an 8-foot high security fence and is not accessible to the public. Operations at the RevereChemical site were initiated in 1963 and reportedly involved the recycling of spent chromic acidsolutions, the recovery of copper from electric plating solution, and the reclamation of metalsfrom printed circuit boards. In 1984, a fire at the site offices destroyed most companydocuments. Consequently, detailed descriptions of site operations are unavailable.

The process area soils are contaminated with volatile organic compounds and metals. Soilcontamination decreases markedly with distance from the process area. Trichloroethene (TCE)and 1,2,4-trichlorobenzene (TCB) were detected in on-site monitoring well MW-4 atconcentrations of 110 micrograms per liter (µg/L) and 41 µg/L, respectively. However, neitherTCE nor TCB were detected in the groundwater samples collected from monitoring well MW-11, which is located approximately 150 feet away from MW-4 in a downgradient direction. NoVOCs were detected in the off-site residential groundwater samples. None of the Target AnalyteList metals or hexavalent chromium concentrations detected exceeded Federal Primary DrinkingWater Standards in the filtered or unfiltered groundwater samples collected from residentialwells. There were no community health concerns or completed exposure pathways that indicatedthat a review of health outcome data was necessary.

However, the Revere Chemical site currently represents an indeterminate public health hazardsince groundwater flow direction has not been fully characterized and not all residential wellsnear the site have been sampled. The Phase 2A Groundwater Investigation now under reviewwill eliminate these data gaps.

Lead, unrelated to the site, was found in one residential well upgradient of the site above the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency proposed guideline of 15 µg/L at the tap.

The data and information developed in the Revere Chemical Public Health Assessment havebeen evaluated for appropriate follow-up health actions. The Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry (ATSDR) Health Activities Recommendation Panel determined that no follow-up public health actions are necessary. ATSDR will reevaluate this site and conduct appropriatepublic health actions, if new data become available that indicate a need to do so.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health will continue to review off-site residential well samplingdata to determine if any site-related contaminants are migrating.

BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

The Revere Chemical National Priorities List (NPL) site is 113.5 acres located on the southeastside of Pennsylvania State Route 611, approximately three quarters of a mile south of the town ofRevere in Nockamixon Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania (Figure 1, Appendix A). Itincludes two unnamed tributaries of Rapp Creek, and is bounded to the south, east, and west byfarmland (Figure 2). Route 611 borders the site on the northwest, and Cotner Trailer, acommercial operation that manufacturers horse trailers, borders the site to the north (1).

A review of available information indicates that operations at the Revere Chemical site wereinitiated as early as 1963. Facility operations reportedly involved the recycling of spent chromicacid solutions, the recovery of copper from electric plating solutions, and the reclamation ofmetals from printed circuit boards. The recovered copper was subsequently used to manufacturercopper-based chemical compounds. Detailed records regarding the types and quantities ofsludges and plating materials stored on the site during its years of operation are not available (2). However, samples of materials contained in the on-site process basins and lagoons werecollected by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) in March 1970. On the basis ofthese data, it is believed that facility processes used chromic acid, copper sulphate, ammonia,ferric chloride, nickel and sulfuric acid solutions (1).

The major areas of facility operations were the process buildings, a series of bermed earthenprocess and storage lagoons, and the spray fields (Figure 3). The area of the site formerly usedfor process operations is believed to be approximately 25 acres (1).

In 1968, the Bucks County Department of Health determined that the facility had not submittedthe required Pollution Incident Prevention Plan. Later inspections revealed that material wasdischarging from the process and storage lagoons and was migrating into the unnamed tributariesof Rapp Creek. In December 1969, the site was abandoned by the operators.

During 1970 and 1971, PADOH, the predecessor of the Pennsylvania Department ofEnvironmental Resources (PADER), performed a remedial action at the site, removing anestimated 3.5 million gallons of waste sludges and liquids. Pumpable sludges were removed anddisposed of at sea. The remaining sludges were stabilized with lime, sodium sulfide, and sodiumsulfite, mixed with native soils, and buried on site in process lagoons and storage lagoons. During this action, drums were reported to have been crushed and buried on site by the PADOH(1).

From March 29 through April 16, 1984, the United States Environmental Protection Agency(USEPA) performed additional remedial work at the site. The USEPA removed 22 drumscontaining chromic acid and etching wastes, and 30 cubic yards of chemical solids from surfacesoils and the former on-site laboratory (1).

In 1984, the fire at the site offices destroyed most company documents. Consequently, detaileddescriptions of site operations are unavailable (1).

In 1985, NUS Corporation, representing the USEPA, collected 11 soil and 11 aqueous samplesfrom on-site and off-site locations to evaluate the nature and extent of soil and groundwatercontamination. In addition, a magnetometer survey was performed in the process area todetermine the presence and location of buried metal objects at the site (1).

The Revere Chemical site was proposed for the National Priorities List (NPL) on September 1,1985 and was finalized on the NPL on July 1, 1987. The Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry (ATSDR) prepared a Preliminary Health Assessment for the site in 1988.

B. Site Visit

Mr. Thomas Hartman and Mr. Robert M. Stroman, with PADOH, Ms. Felicia F. Dailey, ATSDRRegional Representative, and representatives from the Bucks County Health Department, deMaximis, Inc., and Dames & Moore visited the site on November 18, 1991.

Approximately 25 acres of the site were observed to be secured with a chain-linked fence. This25-acre portion of the site where manufacturing activities occurred, the process area, has beenextensively disturbed. No process lagoons or storage lagoons remain. Some scattered trash wasnoted around the site. Present ground cover in the process area consists of bedrock fragmentsand is for the most part devoid of vegetation. Yellowish-stained soil provided visual evidence ofon-site contamination. The east and west spray fields were also observed. There were noleachate seeps noticed along the banks of the tributaries. The tributaries were nearly dry and alater view of Rapp Creek indicated it was extremely low.

Three major structures were observed on the site. An arsoned office/house, a process building,and a single-story building were all located near the main entrance to the site. Dames & Moorehad a work-site trailer near the main gate and Cotner Trailer was just to the north outside the siteboundary. The nearest home is less than 0.25 miles from the site.

On December 10, 1993, PADOH determined that some changes have been made at the site. Theprimary change is that site erosion controls have been installed around the site's perimeter. Theerosion control measures consist of silt fencing and stone berms. Trash that was scattered aroundthe site has now been collected into one pile.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Demographics

The Revere Chemical site is located in Nockamixon Township, Bucks County. The 1990 Censuspopulation for Nockamixon Township was 3,329, an increase of 19.4 percent from the 1980Census population of 2,787 (3). Whites accounted for 98.7 percent of the 1990 population. Nockamixon Township had only 9.5 percent of its population 65 years of age or older comparedto 15.4 percent in Pennsylvania in 1990. Bucks County has only 10.9 percent of its population65 years and older. This is the lowest percent of any of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania with theexception of Centre County which contains the main campus of Penn State University. BucksCounty is also a wealthy county with the median home value $140,000 and a median rent of $524a month compared to $69,700 and $322 respectively for Pennsylvania in 1990 (3). NockamixonTownship had a median housing value of $148,100 and a median monthly rental value of $452(3).

The area around the site is rural with about 520 people residing within 1 mile of the site. Thereare approximately 650 private wells within 3 miles of the site, the nearest one being 1,000 feetaway (4). There is no public water supply serving this area.

Nockamixon Township is part of the New Hope - Solebury School District. There is anelementary school, a middle school and a high school in Nockamixon Township. These threeschools are part of one geographic area over 2 miles northwest of the site. The schools and their1990-91 enrollments are as follows (5, 6):

Durham-Nockamixon Elementary School (355)
Palisades (7th and 8th grade) (322)
Palisades High School (591)

There are no hospitals or nursing homes within the immediate vicinity of the site. The nearesthospital and nursing home is located approximately 10 miles southwest of the site in QuakertownBorough (7, 8).

Land Use

The Revere Chemical site is located in a rural area of Bucks County. Revere, an unincorporatedplace of approximately 200 persons (9), has three small companies listed in the 1990 IndustrialDirectory of Pennsylvania. These three companies employed a total of 42 persons and CotnerManufacturing is one of these and borders the site to the north. The area surrounding the siteincludes recreational streams, forests, fields and state game lands. Nockamixon State Parkextends 1-3 miles southwest of the site which contains Lake Nockamixon with an elevation of396 feet above mean sea level. Approximately 0.5 miles north of the lake is Haycock Mountainwith an elevation of 900 feet above mean sea level. The site is situated in the portion of thePiedmont Physiographic province designated as the Piedmont Upland, which is characterized bygently rolling hills and sloping topography (1).

Natural Resource Use

The area surrounding the site is underlain by various members of the Triassic-age Newark Group. The geologic unit in the site vicinity is the Lockatong formation. The lithology of the Lockatongformation is fairly homogenous. The Lockatong and Brunswick formations interbed in the sitevicinity. The Lockatong and Brunswick formations are each typically extensively fractured. TheLockatong formation is utilized as an aquifer for residential and commercial purposes throughoutBucks County, including the site vicinity (1).

The residents surrounding the site all depend on private wells as their source of potable water. Asurvey was conducted of residential well users.

Seventy-nine (79) residential well survey forms were distributed door-to-door to residents withinan one-half mile radius of the site during the Phase 1 RI. A total of 38 forms were completed andreturned (48.1%). A follow-up survey of the residents that did not respond to the Phase 1 surveywas conducted during the Phase 2 investigation. This follow-up survey was accomplished bymailing the Phase 1 questionnaire to the residences. A door-to-door survey of those residentswho did not respond to the mailed questionnaire was conducted on October 3, 1991. Theobjectives of the residential well survey were to: (1) establish an inventory of existing wells inthe vicinity of the site, and (2) identify potential receptors of groundwater contamination thatmay migrate off-site (1).

Thirty-seven (37) residential well surveys were mailed during the Phase 2 RI. The mailingaddresses for four residences could not be established, so they were not sent questionnairesduring the Phase 2 investigation. A total of six surveys were completed and returned. The door-to-door survey of the remaining 31 residences resulted in the completion of an additional 11investigations (55 of 79 or 69.6%). Figure 6 indicates the approximate location of the 75residences in the vicinity of the site (1).

Reported residential well depths range from 60 feet to greater than 600 feet, with an approximateaverage of 316 feet. Reported well yields range from 5 to 90 gpm, with an average yield ofapproximately 17 gpm. The majority of the residents indicated hardness as a water qualityproblem, and several indicated that they use water softeners to address the problem. In addition,several residents cited high iron content as a water quality problem. These data agree with wellyield data reported by Greenman (1955) for 43 wells that tap the Lockatong formation, whichranged from 2 gpm to 25 gpm, with an average yield of 10 gpm (1).

A topographical survey was conducted during the Phase I investigation of the site. Elevations onthe site range from 390 feet above Mean Sea Level (MSL) in the southeast corner of the site to514 feet above MSL in two areas along the northern site boundary. The site topography ischaracterized by two stream channels that join on-site. One stream (east tributary) transects thesite from north to south and the other (west tributary) transects the site from west to east. Theeast tributary flows onto the site at the northern corner of the property and then flows across thesite to a point approximately 150 feet from the southeastern site boundary, where it forms aconfluence with the west tributary. The west tributary enters at the northwest corner of the sitewhere it flows beneath Easton Road (Pennsylvania State Route 611). This stream flows acrossthe site toward the southeast site boundary and forms a confluence with Rapp Creekapproximately 400 feet southeast of the site. Rapp Creek flows into Tinicum Creek which flowsinto the Delaware River approximately 7 miles from the site. Surface water drainage on the sitegenerally flows toward the south (1).

D. Health Outcome Data

Health outcome data bases were not reviewed for the Revere Chemical site for reasons discussedin the Health Outcome Data Evaluation.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Concerns in the community have diminished since the mid 1980's because much remediation hasbeen done on-site that is obvious to the surrounding residents. Several residents expressedconcern that their wells were not tested for site-related contaminants during the RI/FS. Severaladditional wells have been tested very recently based on citizens' requests. The results of thesetests are not included in the public health assessment; however, it has been reported that the wellswere free of contamination or had contaminants at very low levels that would not be expected tocause adverse health effects (10). The major question that is raised by the residents is "What areour health risks from drinking from a private well in close proximity to the site"? This questionwill be addressed in the Community Health Concerns Evaluation section.


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