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The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) completed an interim preliminary public health assessment (PHA) for the Quincy Landfill 2 & 3 site on March 18, 1992. Since the release of the 1992 PHA, several site activities have taken place. IDPH reviewed and evaluated information about these activities and offers new conclusions and recommendations for the site.

Since the completion of remedial activities at the site, the Quincy Landfill 2 & 3 site poses no apparent public health hazard. No one is currently exposed to contamination at the site. Any past exposure would not have been at levels of health concern. Based on current conditions, IDPH recommends that the Quincy Landfill 2 & 3 participating respondents group:

  1. Encourage the homeowner ½ mile west of the site to connect to Mill Creek Public Water supply and to seal the private well to eliminate possible exposure to site-related contaminants in groundwater.
  2. Provide groundwater containment and treatment if groundwater cleanup levels are not met and maintained.
  3. Continue proper maintenance of the leachate collection system and tank.
  4. Maintain the landfill cap, particularly to address any erosion that occurs.
  5. Maintain a 6-foot-high security fence around the perimeter of the site to prevent trespassing.


The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) completed an interim preliminary public health assessment (PHA) for the Quincy Landfill 2 & 3 site on March 18, 1992. Since the release of the 1992 PHA, several site activities have taken place. IDPH reviewed and evaluated information about these activities and offers new conclusions and recommendations for the site.


The Quincy Landfill 2 & 3 site is in a rural area about 5 miles east of Quincy in Adams County, Illinois (Attachment 1). The 33-acre site is bounded to the north by Old Broadway Road, to the east by pasture land, and to the south by a wooded tract and an unnamed Mill Creek tributary. It is bounded to the west by privately-owned land and a drainage ditch that carries surface water from the western portion of the landfill into the unnamed tributary of Mill Creek. The site is a closed landfill that was operated privately from 1967 to 1972. The city of Quincy operated the landfill from 1972 to 1978 [1]. The current owner of the site is the city of Quincy. Past and present owners of the site are known collectively as the participating respondents group (PRG).

Quincy Landfill 2 & 3 was the only operating landfill in Adams County from January 1967 to August 1978. The landfill received most of the solid waste generated in the county, as well as large amounts of hazardous waste from the city of Quincy's industrial sector. In 1976, the city of Quincy received a supplemental permit to accept liquid wastes. The liquids were placed in unlined holding pits in the northern and western portions of the landfill. The liquids were then pumped into trenches and covered with clean fill. All disposals at the landfill predate the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) January 1979 manifesting requirements. The landfill also operated before the November 19, 1980, effective date of the Resource, Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) [2]. The city of Quincy closed the landfill in 1978 and applied a final cover in 1979[1].

The 1992 IDPH interim PHA documented that the environmental samples of on-site groundwater, soil, leachate, and off-site residential wells and sediment contained some volatile organic compounds (VOCs), inorganic chemicals, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Adverse health effects were not anticipated given the low levels of these contaminants; however, IDPH was concerned that area residents could be exposed to contaminants that might migrate off the site in groundwater or surface water in the future.

Recommendations of the 1992 Interim Public Health Assessment included:

Cease/Reduce Exposure Recommendations:

  1. Residential wells in the area need to be properly abandoned to eliminate any possibility of contaminants entering the groundwater.

  2. Repairs to the fence on the western boundary of the site are needed to deter access. The site should be posted and patrolled.

  3. A leachate collection system with treatment should be considered to prevent the occurrence of leachate seeps and to prevent the release of contaminants to off-site surface water.

  4. The cap and all erosion channels on the site should be repaired to reduce the possibility of physical injury and future exposure to subsurface soils.

Site Characterization Recommendations:

  1. Additional monitoring wells are needed off the site to evaluate the release of contaminated groundwater. Wells need to be sampled regularly to monitor groundwater quality changes.

Health activity recommendations were not made because the level and duration of past exposure were not a public health concern.

In October 1990, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) released a Focused Feasibility Study that included summary statistics for various environmental media at the site. These data were not reviewed as part of the IDPH interim PHA.

On September 29, 1993, Illinois EPA signed the Declaration for the Record of Decision (ROD), which presented the selected remedial action for Quincy Landfill 2 & 3 in accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). The Consent Order signed on May 13, 1996, served to expedite the cleanup of the site to protect public health and the environment [3].

All of the Cease/Reduce Exposure Recommendations made in the 1992 interim PHA were addressed between May 1996 and January 1999. The Notice of Deed restrictions for the site property was filed, a security fence was installed, 19 on-site monitoring wells were sampled quarterly, seven private wells were sealed, a leachate collection system was installed, and additional cover was provided for the site. Additional off-site groundwater monitoring wells for site characterization, however, were not installed as recommended.

Remediation Activities

In May 1996, the Notice of Deed restrictions for the site property was filed at the Adams County Recorder of Deeds. The Notice of Deed stated that the use of groundwater, construction of buildings, drilling, excavating or other soil intrusive activities on any portion of the site were restricted and prohibited in accordance with, except as provided in, the Consent Order [2].

In 1996, the PRG offered to connect seven homes within a ½-mile radius of the site to the Mill Creek Public Water supply and to simultaneously seal their private wells. Two homeowners refused connection to Mill Creek Public Water supply. These residents currently receive their drinking water from private wells. One of the two homes that was not connected to the public water supply is northeast of the site, and IDPH does not expect that this well will be impacted by site-related groundwater contaminants because groundwater flow at and near the site is believed to be west to northwest [1]. The other unconnected home is approximately ½-mile west of the site.

The two homes closest to the site that were connected to Mill Creek Public Water supply did not have their wells properly sealed at the time of connection. Sealing the private wells eliminates residential use of groundwater that may have been affected by site-related contaminants and eliminates a route for potential groundwater contamination by surface water. In May 1998, those wells were sealed at the instruction of IDPH. [7][8]

A 6-foot-high security fence topped with barbed wire was installed in August 1997 to prevent trespassers from gaining access to the site, thus preventing possible exposure to site-related contaminants.

Nineteen monitoring wells were sampled quarterly in 1997 for metals, VOCs, and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) (Attachment 2). Four of the nineteen wells around the perimeter of the site were also sampled for herbicides, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). [4]

A leachate collection system was installed at the site during the summer and fall of 1998. Conveyance piping was installed around the east, west, and south perimeters of the site. Collected leachate is disposed at the Quincy Wastewater Treatment Facility. Installation of the leachate collection system should reduce the likelihood of surface water contamination by site-related chemicals.

The final 3 feet of cover was applied in December 1998. The cap was seeded to reduce erosion. Additional seeding is scheduled in the spring of 1999. The fence will be replaced once the leachate collection system installation and construction are completed.

Site Visit

IDPH and Illinois EPA staff visited the site on January 13, 1998, during the quarterly, on-site groundwater monitoring well sampling. The site was well vegetated, minimizing most direct contact to on-site contaminants. A 6-foot-high chain link fence topped with barbed wire surrounded the site on the north, east, and west sides. A majority of the southern boundary of the site that borders the tributary to Mill Creek was also fenced. Leachate seeps were seen along the access road throughout the site. Generally, the site was the same as described in the interim PHA. [1]

Illinois EPA staff accompanied IDPH staff during another site visit on July 6, 1998. A 10,000- gallon leachate collection tank was in place on the south side of the site near the tributary to Mill Creek. Construction was in progress, and installation of the piping for the leachate collection system had begun. Two trailers were set up for office space during remediation activities. Leachate seeps were again noted on the western and southern portions of the site as mentioned in the 1992 interim PHA. Vegetation around leachate seeps appeared stressed. The fence on the southern portion of the site along the tributary had been taken down for the installation of the leachate collection tank and had not yet been replaced.


Contaminants of Interest

IDPH compared the laboratory results of each environmental sample with the appropriate screening comparison values used to select contaminants for further evaluation for carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health effects. Chemicals found at levels greater than comparison values or those for which no comparison value exists were selected for further evaluation. A discussion of each health screening value used is found in Attachment 3.

Exposure Pathways

A hazardous chemical can affect people only if they contact it through an exposure pathway at a sufficient concentration to cause a toxic effect. This requires a source of exposure, an environmental transport medium, a point of exposure, a route of exposure, and an exposed population. A pathway is complete if all of its components are present, and people were exposed in the past, are currently exposed, or will be exposed in the future. If parts of a pathway are absent, data are insufficient to decide whether it is complete, or exposure may occur at some time (past, present, future), then it is a potential pathway. If part of a pathway is not present and will never exist, the pathway is incomplete and can be eliminated from further consideration.


IDPH evaluated the results of the 1990 summary data and the 1997 quarterly on-site groundwater samples provided by Illinois EPA [4]. Table 1 shows the groundwater samples that exceeded the comparison values for manganese. Wells with the highest levels of manganese are in areas of leachate seeps or surface water runoff on the site. Table 2 shows groundwater samples that exceeded the comparison values for arsenic. Again, wells with the highest levels of arsenic are in areas of leachate seeps or surface water runoff on the site. Table 3 shows two on-site monitoring wells that exceeded the health comparison value for thallium in the fall quarterly sample. Thallium was not detected in the other quarterly samples, but the laboratory detection limit was greater than the comparison values.

The levels of two VOCs, methacrylonitrile and vinyl chloride, exceeded comparison values in on-site groundwater samples (Tables 4 and 5). Two wells on the west side of the site, in an area of leachate seeps, exceeded the comparison value for methacrylonitrile in the fall quarter. The laboratory detection limit was too high to determine if comparison values for methacrylonitrile were exceeded for the other quarterly samples. Table 5 shows the estimated values for vinyl chloride in on-site groundwater samples that exceed comparison values. The remaining VOCs detected in on-site groundwater were estimated values or were found in laboratory blanks and were not at levels of health concern.

IDPH also reviewed on-site groundwater monitoring and residential well summary statistics provided by Illinois EPA (Table 6). The frequency of detection for vinyl chloride was 4 in 60. Two of these detections were from monitoring well number 4, and two were from residential wells. The homes using these wells were connected to public water in 1986, but Illinois EPA kept the wells open for further sampling. These private wells were sealed in 1998.


Leachate samples collected in June and July of 1998 contained elevated levels of vinyl chloride [5]. Although these samples were collected without Illinois EPA oversight and laboratory errors were reported, the results reflected previous leachate sampling done by Illinois EPA. No one is expected to be exposed to leachate because the leachate collection system installation is complete. Should leachate seeps occur in the future, trespassers might be exposed to contaminants.

Surface Water and Sediment

Manganese was the only contaminant of interest in the surface water of the tributary of Mill Creek near the site (Table 6). The tributary is not known to be used for fishing, and no one is known to drink the water. Chemicals detected in sediment samples were not elevated compared with background levels. Exposure by hunters or trespassers would be infrequent, and no adverse health effects would be expected. [9]

Subsurface Soil

Chemicals detected in the nine subsurface soil samples collected in October 1990 were not elevated compared with background levels. Results reviewed for the IDPH interim PHA showed that subsurface soils were contaminated with VOCs. Since a new cover has been applied to the site, no one would be expected to contact subsurface soils.

Public Health Implications

Several past completed pathways existed at the site (Table 7). Because past disposal practices predate manifesting requirements and more stringent disposal practices, site-related contaminants have impacted the groundwater at the site. Since the completion of remedial activities at the site, specifically the connection of nearby homes to Mill Creek Public Water supply and the sealing of private wells, no completed exposure pathway currently exists.

In the past, persons may have been exposed to site-related contaminants by drinking water containing these substances or by contacting contaminated soils while trespassing onto the site. Past exposure to contaminants by these pathways would not have been at levels that would be expected to cause adverse health effects. In the future, contaminants in the groundwater may migrate and affect private wells downgradient of the site.


Community health concerns about the site were expressed in the past, but since the connection of residences near the site to Mill Creek Public Water system, the number of public health concerns expressed has decreased. An IDPH request to the Adams County Health Department, the city of Quincy, the Illinois EPA, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January 1999 yielded no new community health concerns related to the site.


IDPH and ATSDR recognize that children are especially sensitive to some contaminants. For that reason, IDPH included children when evaluating exposures to contaminants at Quincy Landfill 2 & 3. Children are the most sensitive population considered in this public health assessment.

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