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The Duell & Gardner Landfill site was listed on the U.S. Environmental ProtectionAgency's (U.S. EPA) NationalPriorities List (NPL) on September 8, 1983. The site, located in rural DaltonTownship, Muskegon County, Michigan, was used from the mid-1940s until 1973 as a municipallandfill that also received industrial wastes. Isolated areas of surface and subsurfacesoil on the site are stained with crystal violet, an aniline-based dye. Crystal violet,aniline, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, and other chemicals have been found in thegroundwater at the site. These chemicals have not been found in nearby surface water norin nearby residential wells. Approximately 500 drums in various stages of deterioration,hundreds of lab bottles, areas of refuse and debris, and piles of lime were reported to beon the site in 1984. During March 1986, some of the drums, lab bottles and piled wasteswere removed from the site. Selected areas of heavily-stained soil were covered withplastic to reduce leaching of contaminants to thegroundwater. Access to the site is not restricted, and signs of trespass have beenobserved.

The site poses noapparent public health hazard under current conditions. Trespassers may be exposed tocontaminants of concern, though not to the extent that adverse health effects are likelyto result after ordinary exposures.Unless remedial actions are taken, contaminants in the groundwater may reach a point ofexposure in the future. This assessment recommends that access to areas of heavilycontaminated soil be restricted, as a precaution against extraordinary exposures, and thatappropriate precautions be taken by workers during remedial activities on the site.


The Duell & Gardner Landfill site was listed on the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) National Priorities List (NPL) onSeptember 8, 1983.

A. Site Description and History

The Duell & Gardner Landfill site is located at 1285 E. Bard Road in DaltonTownship, Muskegon County, Michigan, on the south side of Bard Road between Putnam andStaple Roads (see Figure 1). It occupies the east 1/2of the northwest 1/4 of Section 27, T. 11 N., R. 16 W., and covers approximately 80 acres.

A municipal landfill operated on southern part of the site from the 1940s to 1973.Before 1969, the landfill operated as an uncontrolled dump, accepting industrial waste andgeneral refuse. Solid and liquid wastes apparently were deposited on the soil surface andin ground depressions.

In 1969, the landfill property changed hands, and the new owners applied for a statelicense to operate a solid waste disposal facility for general refuse and garbage.Selected areas of the landfill were excavated and waste was placed in unlined trenches.Stained soils (reds, blues, greens) were reportedly observed when the trenches were beingexcavated. In 1971, the Michigan Department of Public Health (MDPH) stipulated that noliquid waste be disposed of in the landfill. In 1973, the Muskegon County HealthDepartment (MCHD) reported that liquid waste disposal was still occurring. Nearby surfacewater contamination was also noted. There is no record of what the liquid wastes were andno other record of industrial waste being dumped on the site after 1969. The landfillceased operations in 1973. Approximately 500 drums in various stages of deterioration,hundreds of lab bottles, areas of refuse and debris, and piles of lime were reported to beon the site in 1984. During March 1986, the drums, lab bottles and piled wastes wereremoved from the site. Selected areas of heavily-stained soil were covered with plastic toreduce leaching of contaminants to the groundwater.

A contractor for the U.S. EPA and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)carried out field work for the Remedial Investigation (RI) of the site between December1986 and January 1992. The final report of the RI was issued in April 1992 (1). The Feasibility Study for the remediation of the site wasissued in August 1992 (2).

The MDPH, under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances andDisease Registry (ATSDR), completed a Preliminary Health Assessment (PHA) for the Duelland Gardner Landfill site on April 14, 1989. The PHA concluded that the site was ofpotential public health concern because of the possibility of exposure to chemicals ofconcern via use of groundwater by nearby residents and via contact with contaminated soilsby trespassers. The PHA recommended restriction of access to the site and furthercharacterization of the contamination at the site. The PHA did not recommend follow-uphealth activities at that time (3).

There are some small, low, fairly gentle elevations and depressions on the site. Thehighest elevation, near the midpoint of the eastern side, is about 21 feet above thelowest, in the southeast corner. The southern part of the site is wooded, with largeclearings interspersed. Much of the northern part of the site has been cleared of woods,except around the periphery. There are several buildings on the north half of the site,including the residences of the property owners. A gravel road and several dirt tracksprovide vehicle access from Bard Road to the residences and to the disposal areas in thesouthern part of the site. The disposal areas in the southern part of the site are notfenced. The MDNR has posted signs at some locations around the periphery warning of thecontamination. Several areas around the residences are fenced, for security, privacy, orlivestock control purposes. There is also a fence along the west boundary of the site,belonging to the property owner on that side. These fences are not contiguous around thedisposal areas, however.

Bear Creek is approximately 1 mile southeast of the site. An unnamed tributary to BearCreek flows south from approximately 1,000 feet east of the southeast corner of the siteto the creek. The tributary receives water from two agricultural drainage channels, oneflowing west to east approximately 600 feet south of the site and one flowing north tosouth approximately 1,000 feet east of the site. The tributary and these ditches areintermittent, containing water in wet seasons and drying completely in dry seasons.

As is typical in the Great Lakes basin, the site area sits on glacial depositsoverlying the bedrock. In the site area, the glacial deposits are approximately 300 feetthick. The bedrock is sandstone that is part of the Marshall Formation. Boring logs fromarea residential wells, oil wells and monitoring wells record fine to medium texturedsands interbedded with clay layers varying from 1 to 32 feet in thickness. One aquifer hasbeen identified at the site, an unconfined aquifer extending from the water table, at 3 to16 feet below the surface, down to a depth of 50 to 100 feet or more. No continuousconfining layer was found during the RI hydrogeologic investigation. The groundwater flowin the area is to the southeast toward Bear Creek.

B. Site Visit

Art Bloomer, Brendan Boyle, John Hesse, and Vaughn Wagner of the MDPH and WalterDowdle, Mark Bashor, and Louise Fabinski of the ATSDR visited the Duell & GardnerLandfill site on July 7, 1988. James Bedford and Brendan Boyle of MDPH toured the vicinitysurrounding the site on December 10, 1992, and held an availability session the sameevening. Observations and information collected on these visits are incorporated into thisassessment.

C. Demographics,Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The site is located in a relatively sparsely populated rural area with approximately140 persons living within a 1-mile radius and 1,200 persons within a 2-mile radius of thesite. The 1990 Census reported the population of Muskegon County to be primarilynon-Hispanic white, with 13% Black, 2.3% Hispanic, 0.8% Native American, 0.3% Asian orPacific Islander, and 1% other races. Twenty-eight per cent of the County population wasunder 18 years of age, and 13% was 65 or older (4).

Land use in the site area is generally mixed woodlands and agricultural. Residences areprimarily located along the roads, which run along section lines (such as Bard Road,Putnam Road, and McMillan Road) or half-section lines (Strand Road and Pillon Road). Theclosest residences to the site are the site's owners' in the north half of the site,approximately 0.25 miles from the disposal areas. Businesses or industry in the vicinityof the site include an auto junk yard adjacent to the site on the north; acommercially-operated campground 1 mile west of the site; a golf course 1.5 miles south ofthe site; several small businesses and gas stations along M-120 (2 miles southeast of thesite) and several chemical plants in western Dalton Township. There is a school, currentlyserving 25 to 30 special-education students, approximately 1.5 miles west of the site,which would be upgradient (to groundwater flow) and upwind of the site. TheOtt/Story/Cordova Chemical Company NPL site is located approximately 3 miles southwest ofthe Duell & Gardner Landfill site.

There is no municipal water supply available in the site area. Residents use privatewells for their domestic water supply. The site owners have two private wells at theirresidences on the north half of the site, less than 0.25 miles from the disposal areas.These are wells PW-19 and -20 in Figure 2, which shows the private wells that were sampledduring the Remedial Investigation. Construction logs for PW-5, -8, -10, -13, -14, -16, and-19 list depths between 25 and 38 feet (1). Most private wellsin the area would be of similar depths, though there may be wells as deep as 70 feet ormore. There is no record of any use of the Marshall Formation sandstone bedrock for awater supply in Dalton Township.

There is little documentation available on hunting and fishing in the vicinity of theDuell & Gardner Landfill. Residents of the site vicinity are aware that hunting occursin the vicinity, and have expressed concern about the possibility of exposure tosite-related contaminants through game animals. Area residents have reported seeingchildren fishing in Bear Creek in the site vicinity. In Michigan, hunting or fishing isgenerally for recreation, with some game or fish often kept for consumption. Subsistencehunting or fishing is not unknown in the State, though neither is common and neither isdocumented well enough to permit an estimate of the number of people involved.

D. Health Outcome Data

Based on the evaluations performed as part of this publichealth assessment, there are indications that humans that have worked and played onthis site have been exposed to site-related contaminants. Based on the concentrationsidentified at the site, the exposures are not expected to be sufficient to cause long termadverse health effects. However, if higher concentrations of contaminants were present inthe past, and if people were exposed for a long time, they may have incurred a lowincreased risk ofcontracting cancer.

The assessors have reviewed age-adjusted cancer mortality rates for Dalton, Fruitlandand Muskegon Townships, Muskegon County for the period of 1983-1987 as obtained from theMichigan Death Registry.

There were community health concerns identified during this evaluation. The issuesraised concerned exposure to chemicals and not specific health outcomes, and are addressedlater in this assessment.


John Filpus of MDPH attended an MDNR-sponsored public meeting concerning the site onApril 29, 1992. Several of the 13 residents of the site vicinity attending the meetingexpressed concerns over their potential exposure to the contaminants at the site. Oneresident of the site area mentioned that he had voluntarily been using bottled water fordrinking for two years, although he was still using water from his private well (PW-8 on Figure 2) for washing.

MDPH held an availability session at the Dalton Township Hall on the evening ofDecember 10, 1992, to solicit health questions and concerns regarding the site. Thoughonly six residents attended the meeting, those present raised several topics fordiscussion including:

1. Whether the residential wells near the site are endangered by site-relatedcontamination.

2. The need for better site restriction and more posting ofwarning signs along routes used by trespassers entering the site area.

3. The possibility that people who worked and played on-site years ago couldhave had health effects from this exposure then, or might now or sometime in the futuresuffer illnesses.

4. The relationship of the drainage ditch south of the site boundary and theplume of contaminated water extending southeast from sources on the site.

5. Whether deer and other game hunted on site are contaminated and unsafe toeat.

The MDPH representatives asked if anyone knew of someone who had health complaints thatthey thought were related to contaminants from the site.

6. One person mentioned that relatives of his who lived near the site had hadhealth problems.

A draft of this public health assessment for the Duell and Gardner Landfill site wasreleased for public comment on February 16, 1994. The public comment period lasted untilMarch 18, 1994. No comments were received by the MDPH in this period. Additional commentsand new information on the site will be considered by MDPH and ATSDR for futureassessments of, or consultations on, the site.

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