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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT
C & R BATTERY COMPANY INC.
RICHMOND, CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VIRGINIA

SUMMARY

The C & R Battery Company, Inc. property, a former battery recycling facility, is a National Priorities List (NPL) site situated in Chesterfield County, approximately 6 miles southeast of Richmond, Virginia. The contaminants found on the site at concentrations considered to be of concern include antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Approximately 330 persons reside within a 1-mile radius of the site. Community health concerns for this site have been limited. Theoretically, populations at special risk include children and pregnant women, since lead is a major contaminant of concern for this site. Potential exposure pathways include inhalation of contaminated dust, and the ingestion of contaminated groundwater.

This site is an indeterminate public health hazard. The limited available data do not indicate that humans are currently being exposed to levels of contamination that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. However, data are not available for all environmental media to which humans may be exposed. Further characterization of surface water and biota from the James River is needed to confirm that exposure to these media will not result in adverse health effects.

It is recommended that dust controls be employed during remediation, a ground water monitoring program be initiated, and future land use adjacent the site consider the potential of elevated lead concentrations in the surface soil. Proposed remedial actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will address the above recommendations with the exception of future land uses adjacent to the site.

The ATSDR Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) has evaluated this site to determine the need for follow-up health actions. The Panel has determined that no follow-up health actions are indicated at this time because there is no indication that persons are being exposed to levels of contamination that would be expected to result in adverse health effects.

BACKGROUND

A. Site Description and History

The C & R Battery Company, Inc. property is in Chesterfield County, approximately 6 miles southeast of Richmond, Virginia. The most recent operations took place on a 4.5-acre tract of land on the north side of Bellwood Road, approximately 3,800 feet east of Interstate Highway 95 (Figure 1). That property is rectangular in shape and access is restricted by a 6-foot high, chain-link fence. A small fuel oil distributor, Capitol Oil Company, borders the C & R Battery Company, Inc. property on the east. Earlier battery processing operations took place on the Capitol Oil Company Property. For purposes of this assessment the C & R Battery Company, Inc. property and Capitol Oil Company property will be referred to as the "site" (Figure 2).

The site is in a predominately industrial area and not presently bordered by residential land. Bellwood Road is immediately south of the site. A densely-wooded area is immediately west of the site. The property immediately north of the site is apparently used as a borrow area and two large stockpiles of soils presently exist immediately northeast of the site. An access road to the property north of the site is immediately east of the site with industrial uses beyond.

The C & R Battery Company, Inc. and Capitol Oil Company properties are separated by an approximately 5-foot-deep drainage ditch. The southernmost 500 feet of this ditch are within the fence on the C & R Battery Company, Inc. property. Surface runoff from both properties enters this ditch. This drainage ditch flows northward to the James River which is located approximately 650 feet north of the site.

C & R Battery Company, Inc. was a battery-sawing and shredding facility designed to recover lead from discarded auto and truck batteries. The battery breaker was a mobile unit, and operations were moved periodically within the site boundaries. Wastes generated by this operation included lead sulfide, lead oxide, lead, plastic battery casings, and sulfuric acid.

The facility received bulk shipments of discarded batteries between 1970 and 1985. The first step in the recovery process was to cut the battery casings open and drain the acids into on-site lagoons. The batteries were then broken open and the lead and lead compounds were recovered and stockpiled for later shipment. The battery casings were subsequently shredded and stockpiled on the site. The facility was abandoned in 1985.

The previous uses of the site can be inferred from aerial photographs taken in 1964, 1969, 1973, 1979, and 1986 (19). The site was vacant and wooded in 1964. The 1969 photographs show about 60 automobiles on the site, which may indicate its use as a wrecking yard. The 1973 photographs indicate that the site had been cleared of the automobiles and the Capitol Oil Company property was used for the battery recovery operation. The 1979 photographs indicate that the C & R Battery Company, Inc. property was used for the battery recovery process and the Capitol Oil Company property had been cleared of the battery recovery operation and developed into its present use. During this period (1973-1979) a large mound of battery debris was removed from the Capitol Oil Company property The 1986 photographs indicate the battery recovery operation had been on the C & R Battery Company Inc. property.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a removal action on the C & R Battery Company, Inc. property in the summer of 1986. EPA neutralized the acidic liquid from waste ponds on that property and discharged the liquid into an on-site ditch. The sludge in the bottom of the waste ponds was blended with hydrated lime and returned to the waste ponds. Soils were disked (words appearing in bold are defined in the glossary in Appendix A) and mixed with lime to a depth of 2 feet. However, buried intact batteries were found in the northern portion of the site, and a decision was made to apply lime only to the soil surface in this area. During this same period, a large quantity of shredded battery casing material was found east of the drainage ditch. These shredded battery casings, their associated soils, and debris were moved to the C & R Battery Company, Inc. property and remain there in the debris piles. Subsequently, the excavated area was backfilled to reduce hazards to Capitol Oil Company employees. The drainage ditch was graded, and riprap channels and dams were installed to reduce erosion. The existing 6-foot, chain-link fence was installed inside the tree line during this removal action in order to minimize the potential for direct contact with contaminated on-site materials.

The C & R Battery Company, Inc. site was placed on the EPA National Priorities List (NPL) in July 1987. A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was completed in January 1990. A Record of Decision (ROD), signed by EPA on March 3, 1990, consists of excavating the surface and subsurface soils containing lead concentrations above the 1,000 milligrams of lead per kilogram of soil (mg/kg) action level, treating them with a stabilization process, and disposing of the soils in an off-site landfill. The largest of the previously existing ponds on-site (acid pond) will be subject to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) clean closure standards (removal or detoxification of hazardous constituents). Contaminated residual soils will undergo hybrid closure (capping with a 6-inch layer of topsoil and revegetation). Subsequent remedial action designs (Gereghty & Miller, 1992) have indicated that the activities outlined in the ROD will occur on both the C & R Battery Company, Inc. property and the Capitol Oil Company property.

B. Site Visit

Our initial site visit to C & R Battery was conducted with the EPA on May 2, 1990. Participants included staff from EPA; Regional and District Health Departments; local and state Departments of Emergency Services; and the following staff from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH): Dr. Gerald Llewellyn; Dr. Peter Sherertz; Dr. Ram Tripathi; Stan Orchel, Jr.; Connie Webb; and Sanjay Thirunagari.

At the time of our initial site visit, the C & R Battery Company, Inc. property was fenced and posted with "Danger - Keep Out" signs. The area inside the fence consisted of broken battery casings, 2 debris piles of soil and battery pieces, a concrete pad, a pallet containing approximately 350 nickel/cadmium batteries, garbage cans containing EPA decontamination materials, and discarded tires. The site was essentially barren except in and adjacent to the drainage ditch which contained various brush including edible berries.

A more recent site inspection occurred on May 15, 1992, by representatives from EPA, the Department of Waste Management and VDH (Jerry Grimes). The site had not changed substantially, but changes had taken place on the property immediately northeast of the site. The most significant changes northeast of the site included construction of a small embayment in the shoreline of the river together with construction of a dock and covered slip in that embayment. The soil excavated to create that embayment was placed immediately northeast of the site, subsequently most of it was used for highway construction or as capping material for the Fort Darling Landfill. The remaining soil was stockpiled immediately north of the Capitol Oil Company property and adjacent to the northeast portion of the site.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Land use in the vicinity of the site has been a combination of agricultural, commercial, industrial, and scattered residential. Several private residential homes are located north of the site, adjacent to the James River. The area approximately 200 feet northeast and east of the site has been excavated to create a small marina. Several large industrial facilities are located approximately one-half mile from the site. The 400-acre United States Defense General Supply Center (DGSC), a federal NPL site, is situated approximately 2 miles west of the site.

During June 1986, the Chesterfield County Health Department conducted a survey of residents in the vicinity of the site. Thirty-three households were identified in the area between Interstate Highway 95 and the James River. These residents lived on Bellwood Road, Gresham Avenue, and Haven Avenue. Ninety-four residents (44 male and 50 female) were identified in these households. The average age was 39.5 years with a range from 7 weeks to 94 years. Nine residents were less than 10 years of age. The average length of family residence reported was 25 years with a range of 3 to 45 years.

Fourteen residences use private wells south of the James River within 3,000 feet of the site. The nearest well is approximately 600 feet north of the site. Most residential well depths range from 30 to 35 feet.

D. Health Outcome Data

Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH), Department of Labor and Industry, also had extensive involvement with the C & R Battery site, including air monitoring of the personal breathing zone and analysis of blood lead levels in workers.

In June 1986, the Chesterfield County Health Department collected blood samples from 9 children who were residents of the area between Interstate Highway 95 and the James River on Bellwood Road, Gresham Avenue, and Haven Avenue. In addition, 6 children who were provided day care in the same area were sampled for blood lead levels. This data will be evaluated in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation portion of the Public Health Implications Section.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

According to information provided by the local health director, there has been little community interest in the C & R Battery site. The only apparent health-related community interest prior to remedial planning activities occurred in late 1979. An out-of-state resident whose mother lived behind the site contacted the county and expressed her concerns. During a visit to her mother, she had noticed activities at the site. The daughter was concerned about contaminants migrating to the James River or washing into the river during flooding, and she reported smelling smoke from fires on the site. Earlier, the mother's well and other wells in the area had been sampled; however, sampling results have not been made available. One family whose well was sampled reported that the water was dark and stained the sink. According to the ROD, sampling conducted by EPA during the RI showed that residential wells were not affected by site contamination.

Except for this past concern, the local health director and state officials have reported that community awareness of the site is "virtually nonexistent." Further, there has been little public interest in the site. Also, according to the ROD, there are several environmental groups in the Richmond area, yet they have not registered concern at this time pertaining to this site. This may be because the site is located in an industrial area and there are few nearby residences.

The public comment period for this public health assessment was held from February 1-28, 1993. The Draft for Public Comment was available at the Chesterfield Public Library, Central Branch, the Chesterfield County Health Department, and the Chesterfield County News and Information Office. Comments received from the Virginia Department of Waste Management have been incorporated into this public health assessment. No comments were received from private citizens or any other state or federal agency.


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