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The California Department of Health Services (CDHS) has prepared this public healthassessment under cooperativeagreement with the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR). The CDHS/ATSDR publichealth assessment is a mechanism to provide the community with information on the publichealth implications ofspecific hazardous wastesites and identify those populations for which further health actions or studies are indicated. The Public Health Assessment of Sola Optical USA, Inc. is based on a review of the RemedialInvestigation report(RI)(1) submitted by Sola Optical USA, Inc.and the Public Health Risk Assessment (2) submittedby the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contractor, in conjunction with a site visit. The reportserves to update theATSDR Interim Preliminary Public Health Assessment for Sola Optical USA, Inc. completed byATSDR March 4,1992.

The Sola Optical USA, Inc. (Sola) site, located in Petaluma, Sonoma County, California, wasplaced on the NationalPriorities List by the EPA on June, 1988. The EPA is the lead governmental agency for thecleanup at the Sola site. Spillage associated with six underground solvent storage tanks resulted in volatile organic contaminants (VOCs)leaking into the subsurface soils and groundwater (1). These underground tanks and some of thesurroundingcontaminated soil have been excavated and removed from the site (1). Various VOCs have beendetected in on-sitegroundwater at levels of human health concern (3); however the contaminated groundwater is notcurrently a sourceof drinking water (1). An on-site groundwater extraction and treatment system has been in operation since 1987 (1).

Based on information reviewed, ATSDR and CDHS have concluded that the Sola site posesno apparent public healthhazard. On-site worker exposure is predicted by anindoor air-model, but the exposure is at a level below that ofhealth concern. Future significant exposure to groundwater contaminants is unlikely if thegroundwater extractionand treatment system reduces concentrations ofsite-related contaminants to levels below health concern; no wellscurrently in place are used for domestic purposes; the nearby municipal drinking water well is notused until thegroundwater remediation is complete; and future drinking water wells are not placed in areas ofknown contaminationif groundwater remediation does not clean up contaminants to drinking water standards. This siteis not beingconsidered for follow-up health activities at this time.



Sola Optical USA, Inc. (Sola), a division of Pilkington Visioncare, Inc. is located on a35-acre site on the southwestside of Petaluma, California (Figure 1). Sola has been manufacturing optical lenses at the sitesince 1978. From 1978to 1985, Sola used six 1,000-gallon underground tanks, located near the southwestern corner ofthe manufacturingbuilding (Figure 2), to store 1,1,1-trichloroethane, acetone, and methanol. In 1982 Sola detectedVOCs in thegroundwater beneath the site (1). Sola removed the six underground storage tanks in 1985 (1). By 1980 Sola hadaltered its manufacturing process from a solvent-based to a water/soap-operation, thus decreasingthe need for largevolumes of VOCs to be stored on-site. The Sola Optical USA, Inc. (Sola) site, located inPetaluma, Sonoma County,California, was placed on the National Priorities List by the EPA on June, 1988. The EPA is thelead governmentalagency for the cleanup at the Sola site.

Sola has installed thirty-seven wells on or near the Sola site to monitor the VOCcontamination in the groundwater(1). The monitoring has shown that the contaminated groundwater plume, to date, seems toextend from behind theSola building to the southwest corner of the Sola property (Figure 2). Remediation of thegroundwater began in 1987(1). Currently there are 9 extraction wells on the Sola site (Figure 2).


On June 19, 1991, staff from the CDHS/ATSDR project, toured the Sola site andsurrounding neighborhood. TheExecutive Vice-President of Operations and the Manager of Environmental Affairs for Solashowed us around theSola property.

The manufacturing facilities, warehouse facilities, and offices are contained in a largetwo-story building (106,000square feet-ground floor) on the northern edge of the Sola property. Behind the Sola building(the southern side),there are loading docks and chemical storage areas (2500 pound containers behind cyclonefencing). Thegroundwater treatment system is located where the tanks were removed from and is alsosurrounded by a cyclonefence.

Asphalted paving surrounds the building with employee/visitor parking located on the westernand eastern sides of thebuilding. The asphalt extends for approximately 60 feet to the south of the building. The rest ofthe Sola property isnot landscaped and periodically-mowed wild grass covers the land.

Figure 1. Sola Optical USA, Inc. site and surrounding Petaluma area showing contaminated ground-water plume.
Figure 1. Sola Optical USA, Inc. site and surrounding Petaluma area showing contaminated ground-water plume.

Figure 2. Sola Optical USA, Inc. site showing former underground storage tank locations ("cylinder") and ground-water remediation.
Figure 2. Sola Optical USA, Inc. site showing former underground storage tank locations ("cylinder") and ground-water remediation.



The population of Petaluma is approximately 36,000 persons. The City of Petaluma islocated north to northwest ofthe site.

Residents closest to the site are directly across Lakeville Highway to the northwest. In thisresidential area whichextends about a half mile from the site, there are subdivisions of single family homes and duplexes. Approximately2,060 persons live in this area.

Land Use

Sola is in a designated industrial park located to the southwest of Petaluma. The industrialpark is not fully developedand thus there is a lot of open space covered with natural grasses surrounding the Sola propertyon the south side ofLakeville Highway. To the north of the Sola property and across Lakeville Highway is farmlandused for haygrowing. To the northwest of Sola is a recent development of family dwellings. Currently, thereare no residentialareas to the south of the site in the direction of the Petaluma River. The property that borders theSola property on thesouth is privately owned and a house was located there until it was torn down in 1986.

Natural Resource Use


Five major water-bearing zones (aquifers)-defined as the shallow, intermediate-, deep, deeper, anddeepest zones existat the site (1). The approximate depths (below ground level) at which these zones occur at theSola site are as follows:shallow: up to 30 feet; intermediate: 30-60 feet; deep: 61 to 100 feet; deeper: 101 to 200 feet; anddeepest: greaterthan 200 feet. Geological investigations conducted at the site by Sola show that the sedimentsdown to 100 feetconsist mainly of interbedded clays, silts, sands, and gravel. Below depths of 100 feet, thickerclay intervals (about 30to 60 feet) are found. The groundwater flows generally toward the southwest towards AdobeCreek and the PetalumaRiver.

There are four wells near the Sola property that are not monitoring wells. The two deepwells are municipal wells. Sola City well was installed by Sola to fulfill its commitment to the City of Petaluma when Solaestablished its facilitythere. Water from this well was intended for use in processing activities at the Sola plant in theevent that Sola's waterconsumption required it. The Sola City well water has never been used, i.e., it is an inactive well. The well has ascreened interval from 60 to 280 feet below ground surface.

The City of Petaluma Station 5 well is located 300 feet north of the site at Lakeville Highwayand Frates Road. Thewell has a screened interval from 180 to 512 feet below ground surface. Sola and the City ofPetaluma have enteredinto a written agreement whereby the Sola City well and Station 5 well will remain closed until thecity is satisfied thatfurther investigations are not needed and that there is no threat of drawing contaminated waterinto these wells. Thecity may operate the Station 5 well for specifically defined periods of time for water sampling andduring a period ofnatural disaster.

The other two wells are privately owned shallow wells, the Stero and the Crandell well. From 1981 to April 1990, thewater from the Stero well was used for industrial purposes at the Stero facility. Stero wasconnected to the city watersupply for non-industrial purposes. Sola and Stero have entered into an agreement providing forStero to useCity-supplied water for industrial purposes as well. Sola removed the pumping system from theStero well in May1990.

Sola and the Crandell well property owner have entered into an agreement whereby theCrandell property has beenconnected to the City of Petaluma water service. Sola arranged for the Crandell well to becorrectly abandoned inOctober 1990.

Surface water

Adobe Creek lies 0.3 miles west of the site and flows into the Petaluma River, approximately1 mile from the site(Figure 1). The Petaluma River empties into San Pablo Bay, 8 miles from the confluence withAdobe Creek. Thereare no resources currently of interest in Adobe Creek, although there are several invertebrates andfish of interest tothe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Petaluma River (2). Recently a localhigh school started anartificial propagation of steelhead fish along Adobe Creek, with assistance from the CaliforniaDepartment of Fish andGame (2). The Petaluma Marsh State Wetland Area extends along the west bank of the PetalumaRiver from AdobeCreek to the river's entrance into San Pablo Bay.

D. Health Outcome Data

There are two CDHS health outcome registries with data pertinent to the area around Sola. The state's cancerreporting system (CDHS California Tumor Registry) began collectingdata for the region that includes the Sola siteand surrounding area in 1988. In 1987, the CDHS Birth Defects Monitoring Program begancollecting data forSonoma County, where Sola is located.


Residents and local officials do not appear to have community health concerns related to theSola site. According tothe EPA Community Relations Plan, prior to mid-1988 when articles appeared in two localnewspapers, there waslittle community knowledge about groundwater contamination associated with Sola (4). Thearticles described thatSola was being proposed for the NPL and included the criteria for inclusion on the list. Localofficials reported that atthat time they received some inquiries from members of the public seeking reassurance about thequality of thedrinking water. Officials felt that they were able to adequately address the concerns. After theinitial inquiries in thewake of the articles, there were no further concerns expressed by the public. During this time,Sola managementprovided regular updates to their employees about the status of the site and encouragedemployees to express theirconcerns.

In October 1989, the EPA released a fact sheet describing the Superfund process as itwould pertain to Sola Optical,Inc. In February 1991, the EPA released a fact sheet describing the results of the remedialinvestigation conducted inthe summer and fall of 1990 (5). The fact sheet stated that based on the investigation, the site didnot pose animmediate danger to air quality or the local water supply, but that the Feasibility Study wouldfurther characterize thecontaminants at the site and evaluate soil and groundwater cleanup alternatives. An EPA factsheet describing theProposed Plan for the cleanup at Sola became available in June 1991 (6). The fact sheetdescribed the process fordetermining health risks and identifying the chemicals at the site which were of most concern. Five cleanupalternatives and the criteria for evaluating those alternatives were presented. There was anannouncement for thepublic commentperiod and the community Meeting on June 25, 1991.

Approximately fifteen people attended the community meeting on June 25, 1991. Attendeeswere either from state orfederal agencies or management and employees from Sola. The Remedial Project Manager gave apresentation aboutthe history of the site and the cleanup alternatives. People attending the meeting did not voice anyhealth-relatedconcerns but were mainly concerned about when the site could be delisted. People were disturbedthat a geographicalrepresentation of the California Superfund sites in a San Francisco Chronicle article (May 31,1991) implied that Solawas the #2 hazardous waste site in the state of California. At the end of the meeting theCDHS/ATSDR CommunityRelations staff met an employee of Sola who also lives in the housing development northwest ofthe site. He said thathe was unaware of any health concerns related to the site but that he would do an informal surveyin hisneighborhood. Subsequently, he spoke with half a dozen people who lived in the housing tractacross the street fromSola and none of them had any health concerns related to the site.

Although there were no health-related questions at the community meeting, one person whohad been unable to attendthe meeting due to ill health sent a letter to EPA during the official public comment periodidentifying the followingconcerns:

  1. The wisdom of disposing untreated contaminated water into the sanitary sewer of the City of Petaluma.
  2. Questioning the groundwater quality at a residential area approximately 500 feet from the site.
  3. The cause of contamination of the groundwater at Sola and what Sola was doing toprevent futurecontamination.

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