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This Health Consultation is being performed by the New Jersey Department of Health andSenior Services to evaluate the public health significance of the National Lead Industries (NLI) site.The purpose of this Health Consultation is to evaluate the current site data and information availableand the impact of site related contaminants to residents living near the NLI site. The exposurepathways evaluated are the chronic ingestion and/or inhalation of contaminated soil and dust forresidents living near the NLI site. Analysis of site data and information, direct site observation, andcommunity concerns have indicated that a completed human exposure pathway to lead in the soilexists at this site.

The NL Industries, Inc. (NLI) site is located at Pennsgrove-Pedricktown Road, inPedricktown, Oldmans Township, Salem County, New Jersey (see inset). The NLI site,approximately 44 acres in size, consists of a closed landfill and a secondary lead smelting facilitywhich, until 1984, recovered lead from spent automotivebatteries. The site is bisected by a railroad. Approximately16 acres are located north of the railroad tracks, includinga closed 6 acre landfill. The 28 acres to the south, containthe abandoned secondary lead smelting facility and landfillaccess road. NLI maintains the closed landfill area andoperates the landfill's leachate collection system.

Figure 1. National Lead Industries location There are two streams near the site, in addition to amarshy area. The West and East Streams, parts of which areintermittent tributaries of the Delaware River, border andreceive surface runoff from the site. The Cape May aquiferunderlies the site and serves as a source of drinking waterand crop irrigation. Most of the area residents are served bymunicipal water wells, although some nearby homes rely onprivate potable wells. Private wells sampled in 1987, 1991,and 1994 indicated that the water quality of these privatewells were within drinking water standards.

The site is part of an area that is zoned fordevelopment as an industrial park. The industrial park areais bordered by a combination of open, residential andagricultural lands. Approximately 2500 people live within 3miles of the site. The nearest residence is less than 1000 feetfrom the site.

In 1972, NLI began the operation of recycling lead from spent automotive batteries. Theplastic and rubber waste materials resulting from the operation were disposed in the on-site landfill,along with slag from the smelting process.

In 1975, the Salem County Department of Health sampled 15 private drinking water wells inthe site vicinity. One well was found to have an elevated lead level. Several months later, the privatehomes were connected to the public water supply.

During 1973 to 1980, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)cited NLI with several violations of the state air and water regulations. NLI ceased smeltingoperations in May 1982. In October 1982, NLI in coordination with the NJDEP agreed to conducta remedial program affecting the site soils, surface water runoff, landfill, and groundwater. The sitewas placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) in December 1982.

In February 1983, the plant was sold to National Smelting of New Jersey (NSNJ) and smeltingoperations began once more. NSNJ ceased operation in January 1984.

Remedial History

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a multi-phased Removal Actionat the site to address conditions that presented a risk to public health and the environment. TheRemoval Action involved five phases between March 1989 and the fall of 1993. Actions takenconsisted of fencing the former smelting plant, encapsulation of the on-site slag piles to preventcontaminant migration, installing a new entrance gate, reinforce the slag bin retaining walls, and theremoval of the most highly contaminated stream sediments from the West Stream which served asa source of contamination to the adjacent properties and environment.

USEPA addressed the remediation of the site in phases, or operable units. A site-wideremedial investigation/feasibility study, ( RI/FS, designated as Operable Unit One), was conductedto determine the nature and extent of contamination on the site and areas adjacent to the site invarious environmental media such as air, soils, groundwater, surface water and stream sediments.Concentrations of metals were found in soils, including lead detected up to 12,700 ppm in soilslocated within NL property and 1,770 ppm in soils located outside the property. Lead was the mostprevalent contaminant and is the primary contaminant of concern. Elevated levels of lead weredetected in both the surface water and sediments in the east and west streams, and the drainagechannel north of Route 130. Lead detected in the surface waters of the east and west streams rangedfrom 10 ppb to 2,200 ppb in 1989 and 4 ppb to 206 ppb in 1990. Lead concentrations in streamsediments ranged from 5 ppm to 23,700 ppm. The Early Remedial Action for Operable Unit Twobegan in November 1992 and was implemented concurrently with the site-wide RI/FS for OperableUnit One. Operable Unit Two addressed the slag and lead oxide piles, contaminated surfaces anddebris, and contaminated standing water, which were found to be significant and continual sourcesof contaminant migration from the site.

West Stream Sediment and Soil Sampling

During 1993 and 1994, the USEPA removed contaminated sediments from sections of astream adjacent to the site. At the time of the sediment removal, samples were collected from withinthe stream's floodplain to ensure the complete removal of site related contamination in, and adjacentto, the cleaned portions of the stream. USEPA collected and analyzed approximately 1500 soil andsediment samples in, and adjacent to, the West Stream at NLI site. Soil samples were collected from0 to 1 feet and sediment sampling from 0 to 6 inches in depth. Elevated levels of lead were detectedin both the soils and sediments in, and adjacent to, the West Stream. Lead detected in the sedimentsranged from 22 ppm to 3838 ppm. Concentration of lead in soil samples from adjacent to WestStream were higher than soil samples collected from locations away from the stream. Most of thesurface soil samples collected at a depth of 0-3 inches from the adjoining properties to the WestStream indicated presence of lead below 500 ppm. However, some of the soil samples indicatedpresence of lead as high as 7180 ppm. These high concentrations of lead were detected in soil samplescollected at a depth of 0 - 1 feet (composite samples). USEPA has installed silt fencing adjacent tothe stream to mitigate the spread of contaminated sediment and soil.

Current Conditions of Site

On April 22, 1997, Narendra P. Singh and Steve M. Miller of the New Jersey Department ofHealth and Senior Services (NJDHSS) visited the NLI site, accompanied by Joseph Gowers,remedial project manager and Mark Maddaloni, environmental scientist of the U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency (USEPA), and James A. Warner of the Salem County Department of Health. Thefollowing observations were made and information obtained during the site visit:

  • The NLI site is an approximately 44 acre inactive secondary lead smelting facility includinga closed landfill about 6 acre in size located north of the facility, and is bordered to the westby a stream.
  • The site is fenced with an entrance gate and is posted with no trespassing and hazard signs.The site is accessible through Pennsgrove-Pedricktown Road. There was no evidence of anytrespassing on the site. Conditions at the NLI site, since 1995, have changed physically.Removal activities at site have been completed. The closed landfill area of the site was fencedand is being maintained by NLI.

Community Health Concerns Evaluation:

Residents had expressed concerns regarding potential health effects associated with exposureto site related contaminants, especially for children living adjacent to site. The significance of thisexposure is addressed in the Public Health Implications section.

In 1995, the Salem County Health Department tested 2 children for blood lead levels who livenear site. The range of blood lead levels detected were 3 to 4 ug/dl. The lead levels detected in theirblood were not indicative of significant lead exposure, and not at levels expected to cause adversehealth effects. The Center for Disease Control recommends that children with blood lead levels of 20ug/dl or greater be tested for signs of lead poisoning. None of the blood lead levels from the childrenwere found to exceed the 20 ug/dl blood lead level. The ATSDR/NJDHSS have not identified anyadditional community health concerns associated with the site.

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