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October 13, 1988












The Coakley Landfill, which is located near North Hampton, New Hampshire, was in operation from early 1972until 1985. Waste materials disposed at the landfill included municipal wastes, industrial wastes, sewage sludge ,and incinerator residue from the Incinerator Recovery Plant at the Pease Air Force Base. Several small businesses,cluster homes, and single family residences are located near the site. In 1983, several private, potable water wellsnear the site were found to be contaminated with volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). The concentrations of VOCsdetected in private wells have generally been below a level that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. However, in some wells, benzene concentrations in excess of acceptable drinking water concentrations weredetected. Public water lines have been extended into the impacted areas, and the state has indicated that there iscurrently no known use of a contaminated well for potable purposes; however, the water may be used fornon-potable purposes such as garden and lawn watering. VOC contamination has been detected in ground water,leachate, and ambient air from the landfill. Low concentrations of VOCs have also been detected in water andsediment samples from some nearby streams. The concentrations of VOCs detected in these media would not beexpected to have a significant impact on public health. The absence of adequate data on contamination in surfacesoils from the landfill precludes an assessment of health risks stemming from resultant exposure pathways.



The 27-acre Coakley Landfill is located 2.5 miles northeast of the center of the Town of North Hampton, NewHampshire. It is situated approximately 400 to 800 feet west of Lafayette Road (Route 1) and directly south ofBreakfast Hill Road. The facility accepted municipal and industrial wastes from the Portsmouth area during theperiod between early 1972 and July 1982, and incinerator residue from the Incineration Recovery Plant located atPease Air Force Base from July 1982 until July 1985. In July 1985, the landfill stopped accepting waste materials.

Potable water for residences and commercial buildings in the vicinity of the Coakley Landfill is available fromprivate groundwater wells or from one of three water utility companies. Municipal water lines were extended intothe area in 1983, so that public water supply is currently available to most consumers.

In February 1983, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Water Supply and Pollution ControlCommission (WSPCC) received a complaint concerning drinking water quality from a resident of LafayetteTerrace. This residential development is located adjacent to the southeastern corner of the Coakley Landfill. Subsequent investigation revealed contamination by VOCs in that residential well. Additional studies by theWSPCC documented VOC contamination in other residential wells adjacent to the eastern and southeastern portionsof the site. Contamination was also detected in groundwater monitoring wells installed in overburden and bedrockon Coakley Landfill property and at on-site and off-site surface water sampling stations.


ATSDR personnel conducted a Site Visit of the Coakley Landfill on July 1, 1988.


The Coakley Landfill is the subject of a Citizen's Petitioned Health Assessment. The petitioner expressed concernover contamination of ground water and the possible migration of VOCs from the landfill to indoor air in residencessurrounding the landfill. The petitioner also expressed concern over the incidence of cancer and other illnesses in residential areas near the landfill.



The following table lists contaminants of concern that were detected on-site, the media that were contaminated, and the range of concentrations found in the media (ppb -parts per billion).
Groundwater Arsenic ND - 89
  Benzene ND - 60.6
  Phenol ND - 120
  Chloroethane ND - 12.2
  Methyl ethyl ketone ND - 2700
Subsurface Soil Benzo(a)pyrene ND - 480
  Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) ND - 420
Leachate Acetone ND - 185
  Diethyl ether ND - 19
  Methyl ethyl ketone ND - 176
  Toluene ND - 29
  Tetrahydrofuran ND - 50.5
  Methyl isobutyl ketone ND - 19
Sediments Arsenic ND - 46000
  Lead ND - 114000


The following table lists contaminants of concern that were detected off-site, the range of concentrations found (ppb-parts per billion), and the media that were contaminated.
Groundwater Arsenic ND - 24
  Benzene ND -19.9
  Chromium ND - 330
  Chloroethane ND - 470
  Tetrahydrofuran ND - 890
  Lead ND - 43
  Methyl ethyl ketone ND - 282
Domestic Wells 1,1-Dichloroethane ND - 22
  1,1,1-Trichloroethane ND - 5.9
  Toluene ND - 160
  Benzene ND - 18
  Ethyl benzene ND - 10.1
  Xylenes ND - 4
  Methyl ethyl ketone ND - 904
  Methyl isobutyl ketone ND - 63
  Diethyl ether ND - 48
Surface Water Methyl ethyl ketone ND - 130
  Acetone ND - 89
  Methyl isobutyl ketone ND - 10
  Toluene ND - 10
  Tetrahydrofuran ND - 12
Stream Sediments Arsenic ND - 14000
  Phenanthrene ND - 2300
  Benzo(a)pyrene ND - 900
  Acetone ND - 100
Indoor Air 1,1,1-trichloroethane ND - 0.2
  Tetrachloroethene ND - 0.01
  Benzene ND - 0.75
  Ethyl benzene ND - 0.66
  Toluene ND - 3.95
  Acetone ND - 22.45
  Tetrahydrofuran ND - 2.12
  TCE ND - 0.09
  Trichloromethane ND - 3.75
  Xylenes ND - 0.6


Sampling was conducted between December 1986 and December 1987 except for the domestic wells which were sampled between February 1983 and March 1987.

ND - Not detected; concentration below method detection limit.


Metal debris protruding from the surface and broken glass pose physical hazards to motorcyclists and other trespassers on the site.


Land use to the east and south of the site is either residential or commercial. Relatively large tracts of undevelopedwoodlands and wetlands, which are generally privately owned, lie to the west and north of the site. The RyeLandfill, which was closed in 1987, borders the site to the northeast.

In the vicinity of the landfill, populations are concentrated along main roads such as Lafayette Road. Clusterdevelopments, such as the Granite Post Green Mobile Home Park and Lafayette Terrace, are located in the area. Along Route 1, there are several small commercial facilities, motels, and restaurants.

Access to the site is relatively unrestricted. There is a locked entrance gate on the main access road which may limitaccess; however, there are several other points where one could enter the site. The frequency of unauthorized entryhas not been monitored. Staff involved in the RI work reported seeing all-terrain vehicles on-site.


A. SITE CHARACTERIZATION (Data Needs and Evaluation)

1. Environmental Media

The surface water, stream sediment, soil, groundwater, and air were analyzed for VOCs, acid and base/neutralorganic compounds, metals, polychlorinated biphenyls, and pesticides. No surface soil sampling was conductedduring the Remedial Investigation (RI) study.

2. Land Use and Demographics

The information provided in the RI report on land use and demographics was adequate in extent and nature tocomplete this assessment.

3. Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC)

The QA/QC data provided in the materials reviewed by ATSDR were adequate to complete this assessment. Theconclusions contained in this report are based on the data package supplied to ATSDR. The validity of these conclusions is therefore dependent on the accuracy and reliability of the data provided.


The major pathway for the movement of contaminants from the site is by groundwater migration. Transport ofcontaminants may also occur overland in the form of seeps and surface water flow. Groundwater flow is generallytoward the Little River and Bailey's Brook. Groundwater flow may be influenced by nearby supply wells locatedsoutheast of the site which may reverse the gradient under pumping conditions.

The State of New Hampshire conducted air monitoring at the landfill between March 1983 and April 1986. The airmonitoring indicated the presence of low concentrations of VOCs in ambient air at the perimeter of the site. Lowconcentrations of VOCs were also detected in indoor air samples from three residences in the Lafayette Terracedevelopment; however, it is not possible to conclude whether these compounds originate from the landfill or fromuse of household products in the home.

The Coakley Landfill is relatively free of vegetative cover. Along the northern and western slopes, incineratorresidue is visible in areas where wind action appears to have removed the sand cover. Soil quality data indicate thatcontaminants were present in test pit soil samples. These samples were obtained at depths of five feet or more, andthe results may not be indicative of contamination present in surface soils.

According to the EPA, the landfill area was covered with approximately two feet of soil. In 1986, the EPALexington Laboratory analyzed surface soil samples from four unidentified locations. The results of the analyseswere not provided, but it was stated that the results "show no difference from the typical pattern of metals forcommon soil" (2).


The major human exposure pathway is through the use of contaminated ground water for potable purposes. Otherpossible exposure pathways include ingestion and dermal exposure to on-site surface soils and surface waters, andthe inhalation of VOCs in outdoor and indoor air.

In the 1987 RI, it was reported that approximately 89 buildings within one mile of the site were not being serviced by municipal water systems. These locations presumably rely on private wells for their water supply. Residents of these dwellings may be exposed to contaminants from the direct ingestion of ground water, as well as by the inhalation of VOCs in air that are released from water during showering, washing, or cooking.

Except for a locked gate at the main entrance, access to the landfill is unrestricted. The landfill is used bymotorcyclists, all terrain vehicle riders, and snowmobile riders in winter. Although part of the site is vegetated, thereare many bare areas of loose sand and gravel. There are also leachate seeps along the steep slopes of the landfilledarea. Because there is relatively free access to the site, there is a potential for dermal contact with surface soils andleachate from the landfill. Small amounts of soil or dust could also be ingested by trespassers on the site.

There are four small streams near the Coakley Landfill. The closest stream, and the one most likely to be impactedby the landfill, is Berry's Brook. The streams are shallow and slow moving, and it is not likely that they are capableof supporting a game fish population.

During the ATSDR site visit, Berry's Brook and the surrounding wetlands were observed to be densely vegetatedand mosquito-ridden. Although the area is not an attractive recreational site, human contact with the area may occur since access is not restricted.


The Coakley Landfill began operations in 1972. In 1983, tests conducted by the New Hampshire WSPCC detectedcontamination of private wells located east and southeast of the landfill. At that time, the affected residences wereadvised to seek an alternate source of potable water.

Currently, the residential areas near the landfill are serviced by municipal water supply lines from Hampton WaterWorks, the Portsmouth Water District, and the Rye Water District. However, there are still businesses andresidences near the site that are not connected to a municipal water line. The State of New Hampshire conductsquarterly monitoring of private wells surrounding the site. As of July 1988, the State was not aware of anycontaminated private wells in use.

The use of ground water containing VOCs for potable purposes could result in exposures from the direct ingestion ofVOCs in water as well as the inhalation of VOCs released from water to indoor air. The VOCs most frequentlydetected in water from residential wells were 1,1-dichloroethane (DCA) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA). Chronicexposure to high doses of these chemicals has resulted in injury to the liver (TCA) or kidney (DCA) in animalexperiments. However, the reported concentrations of TCA and DCA in water from residential wells were below thedrinking water standards of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWRs). Therefore, the use ofthis water for potable purposes would not be expected to result in an adverse impact on human health from thesecontaminants.

Ground water from several of the private wells was contaminated with aromatic petroleum hydrocarbons such asbenzene, ethyl benzene, toluene, and xylenes. Of these compounds, benzene poses the greatest concern because of itsdemonstrated toxicity to the bone marrow. Occupational exposure to benzene has been correlated with an increasedincidence of blood dyscrasias, aplastic anemia, and leukemia. Water from several of the private wells containedbenzene in excess of PDWRs drinking water standard. Therefore, the use of this water, particularly for extendedperiods of time, poses a potential health risk. Although ethyl benzene, toluene, and xylenes were found in severalwells, the concentrations were below levels that would be expected to result in adverse health effects.

Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), diethyl ether, and other organic compounds were alsooccasionally detected in water from private wells. However, the concentrations of these chemicals were below levelswhich would be expected to result in adverse health effects.

In 1983 and 1984, the New Hampshire Water Supply and Pollution Control Commission (WSPCC) conductedoutdoor air monitoring for VOCs at several locations at the edge of the landfill and at the Lafayette Terracedevelopment. The analytical data from this monitoring were not included in the RI report. However, it was statedthat air samples contained no contaminants in excess of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration'sPermissible Exposure Levels with a safety factor of 420 incorporated. As judged by these criteria, no adverseimpact on public health would be expected to result from exposure to airborne VOCs at the landfill.

In 1986, the WSPCC also conducted indoor air monitoring of three homes in Lafayette Terrace. Several VOCswere detected, but the concentrations were typical of those found in residential dwellings. The chemicals detectedare often constituents of household cleaners, paints, petroleum products, and other materials found in the home. Therefore, it is not possible to conclude whether these VOCs originated from products used in the home or from thelandfill. Nevertheless, the concentrations of VOCs that were detected in indoor air were less than outdoor air VOCconcentrations at the landfill perimeter and would not be expected to have an adverse impact on human health.

When the landfill was in operation, disposed wastes were covered with clean sand. Since the landfill closed, therehas been ome wind and water erosion of the surface sand cover. This erosion may result in previously buried wastesbeing exposed at the surface. Characterization of potential surface soil contamination was limited to analyses offour samples for inorganic chemicals. From this limited data, it is not possible to determine whether human contactwith surface soils and dusts from the landfill poses a potential health risk.

Leachate samples from the landfill contained the same VOCs that were detected in groundwater samples - i.e.,acetone, MEK, tetrahydrofuran, diethyl ether, and MIBK. Occasional human contact with these leachates would notbe expected pose a public health threat.

There are several streams and a wetland near the landfill that could be impacted by groundwater discharge andsurface water runoff from the landfill. Analyses of surface water and sediments from Berry's Brook demonstratedsome low level contamination with VOCs. However, the concentrations of the contaminants detected would not belikely to have an adverse impact on the health of individuals who come into contact with water or sediments fromthe streams. It is not known whether there is any human consumption of biota from the wetlands or stream area. Inthe absence of this information, no assessment of the potential health impact of this exposure pathway can be offered.


Previous landfilling operations at the Coakley Landfill have resulted in contamination of ground water on-site, aswell as off-site. Although municipal water is available to residents and businesses surrounding the site, there arenumerous private wells still in use. The State of New Hampshire regularly monitors these wells for site-relatedcontaminants. None of the private wells in use during the last sampling event contained detectable concentrations ofcontaminants.

Residents of Lafayette Terrace have expressed concern over exposure to chemicals from the landfill. The residentsof this neighborhood have been serviced by municipal water lines since 1983. Indoor air monitoring conducted in1986 did not detect concentrations of VOCs that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. Therefore, thereis no evidence that residents of Lafayette Terrace are currently being exposed to significant levels of contaminantsoriginating from the landfill. Although exposures to groundwater contaminants may have occurred prior to 1983, itis not possible to assess the potential health impact of these exposures because of the absence of data on theconcentrations of contaminants and the length of exposure.

Based upon information reviewed, ATSDR has concluded that this site is of potential health concern because of thepotential risk to human health resulting from possible exposure to hazardous substances at concentrations that mayresult in adverse health effects. As noted in the Environmental and Human Exposure Pathways Sections above,human exposure to site contaminants may be occurring and may have occurred in the past via ingestion ofcontaminated groundwater, ingestion and dermal absorption of contaminants present in soils or surface waters, andinhalation of VOCs present in outdoor and indoor air.

In order to protect public health, the following are recommended.

1. The on-site surface soils have not been adequately characterized for health assessment purposes. An analysis ofon-site surfce soils from the landfill would be needed in order to assess the potential health impact on workers andtrespassers who come into direct contact with surface soils.

2. Because it cannot be determined from the available data whether human contact with surface soils at the siteposes a health risk, the landfill should be posted with warning signs, and public access to the site should beprevented.

3. Residents in the vicinity of the landfill should be connected to the public water supply system, if available. Private wells that are at risk for groundwater contamination should be regularly monitored.

4. If possible, institutional controls should be implemented to prevent the installation and use of drinking water wellsin the contaminated portion of the drinking water aquifer.

5. In accordance with CERCLA as amended, the Coakley Landfill Site, North Hampton, NH, has been evaluatedfor appropriate follow-up with respect to health effects studies. Although there are indications that human exposureto contaminated drinking water may possibly have occurred, this site is not being considered for follow-up healthstudies at this time because no current pathway of exposure can be defined, and no test is available to evaluate past exposures.


Environmental Reviewer:

Chebryll J. Carter
Environmental Health Engineer
Environmental Engineering Branch

Health Reviewer:

Kenneth G. Orloff
Senior Toxicologist
Health Sciences Branch


Charlotta V. Gavin
Clerk Typist
Environmental Engineering Branch

Regional Representative:

Marilyn DiSirio
Public Health Advisor
Field Operations Branch
Region 1


1. Draft Remedial Investigation for the Coakley Landfill, North Hampton, New Hampshire, Volumes 1 - 5, Prepared by Roy Weston, Inc. for Goldberg-Zoino and Associates, Inc., Concord, NH, November 1987.

2. EPA Region 1 Memorandum from Dr T. M. Spittler to Dr. W. Andrade; April 28, 1986.

Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

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