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In late 1997, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) requested the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to prepare a Health Consultation (HC) for the Titanium Wire Corporation site (the site) in West Mahanoy Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. The HC was to evaluate the threat to public water supply wells in nearby Frackville Borough from groundwater under the site. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH), under a cooperative agreement with ATSDR, prepared this HC as requested by USEPA. Conclusions and recommendations herein are specific to the site. PADOH provides conclusions and recommendations based on the data and information referenced. Additional data could alter the conclusions and recommendations being presented. PADOH is committed to reviewing additional data and responding to additional requests.

Site History

The site occupies approximately 11 acres on Morea Road, just east of Frackville Borough, near interchange 36 of Interstate 81. It is situated at the southeast quadrant of the intersection of Morea Road and Industrial Park Road (Appendix A, Figures 1, 2, 3). The site is an active manufacturing plant where the main products are titanium and titanium-alloy wire, rods and bars (1).

The public water supply wells addressed in this HC are owned and operated by the Pennsylvania American Water Company (PAWC). PAWC serves about 7,400 people with groundwater pumped from a system of five wells. The positions of the wells are shown by the labels "PSW" in Appendix A, Figure 2 (2). Four of the wells are to the west and northwest of the site in Frackville Borough. One of the wells in the borough is on Nice Street and is the northernmost well. The fifth is just south of the borough about 0.8 miles west-southwest of the site and is the closest well to the site. Groundwater flow direction in the area is unknown but PADOH expects that it would be topographically controlled.

In March 1987, PAWC detected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in their production wells (3). Between July 27, 1987, and August 13, 1987, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) sampled an on-site production well, PW-1 (Appendix A, Figure 3) and several nearby residential wells as part of an area-wide study to determine the extent of a VOCs chemical plume underlying Frackville. Chemical analyses of these samples showed no VOCs to be present (1).

USEPA contractors conducted a site inspection (SI) of the site on March 19, 1991. Activities included collecting water samples of PW-1 (Appendix A, Figure 2). Results of chemical analyses of these samples showed no on-site contamination with VOCs. The results showed the on-site level of lead to be 58.4 micrograms per liter (µg/l) and of manganese to be 364 µg/l. However, the on-site production well had been abandoned at some unspecified time prior to the SI.

Activities during the SI also included collecting water samples of three off-site home wells, H.W.-1, H.W.-2, and H.W.-3 (Appendix A, Figure 2). H.W.-1 contained 5 µg/l of 1,1,1-trichloroethane and 12 µg/l of tetrachloroethene (PCE). H.W.-2 contained 53.7 µg/l of lead (5).

USEPA contractors conducted an expanded site inspection (ESI) of the site during 1992 and 1993. Four new monitoring wells, MW-1 through MW-4, were drilled for the ESI on July 12-15, 1993. (As of this writing PADOH has been unable to obtain a copy of a map denoting the exact positions of the new on-site monitoring wells.) The contractors collected groundwater samples on August 3-5, 1993. The on-site abandoned production well showed a PCE level of 2.2 µg/l. The highest level of VOCs found on site was 6.5 µg/l of trichloroethylene (TCE) in MW-2. Lead was present in MW-2 at an estimated level of 125 µg/l. The level of manganese in MW-2 was 5,380 µg/l (6). The summary tables in Appendix B show the results of chemical analyses of groundwater samples taken during the ESI (6). According to PADEP, "The contractors did not perform static water level measurements during the sampling of the monitoring wells. Therefore, there is no data to document the groundwater flow direction in the upper bedrock...and...the site-specific hydrogeology is deficient..."(7).

A summary of what was known about the groundwater under Frackville in 1993 was presented in an ATSDR document in January 1994 (4). PADEP and USEPA had decided that two plumes of VOCs, a northern and a southern plume, underlie Frackville. The northern plume, affecting the Nice Street well, was thought to have appeared as a result of an employee taking home about 18 barrels of solvents from a nearby company that was going out of business. Some of the barrels leaked and the contents entered the groundwater in the northern part of the borough. The source of the southern plume was not determined (4). PAWC installed air stripping devices on Frackville's water supply to remove the VOCs prior to delivering the water to consumers.

Site Visit

On March 5, 1998, Mark Lavin and J. E. Godfrey of the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) Health Assessment Program staff conducted a site visit at the Titanium Wire Corp. site (the site). We drove around the site noting positions of houses and other important demographic features. On site we saw five blue wells and one rusty well. The rusty well position corresponds with the position of the abandoned production well, PW-1 (Appendix A, Figure 3). As of this writing, PADOH has been unable to confirm the identifications of the five blue wells. Reference No. 6, the Expanded Site Inspection report, states that four on-site monitoring wells were installed.

Mr. Godfrey took geologic measurements in a cut behind a service station in the northern part of Frackville (Appendix A, Figure 2). His measurements indicate that bedrock (bedding) strikes about north-70°-east and dips 30° to the northwest. This was the nearest convenient outcrop to the site and Mr. Godfrey anticipates that bedrock dip at the site is in the same direction, though the angle may be different. Bedrock features are important because groundwater sometimes preferentially flows along bedding planes and fractures (joints).

We met with an official of the Pennsylvania American Water Company in Frackville. We discussed the history of groundwater contamination under Frackville, the availability of public water supply lines near the site, and the chemical analytical data pertinent to the borough's water supply quality. He showed us recent VOC analyses results, which demonstrated that no VOCs have been detected in the finished water supply. He also showed us on a map the positions of the borough's five public water supply wells (Appendix A, Figure 2). Later on we drove past the Nice Street well and observed the air stripping column in place on that well.

Finally, we met with a representative of West Mahanoy Township who said that she had no knowledge of health concerns related to drinking water near the site. We asked her to contact us if she or anyone else knows of persons with site-related health concerns.

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