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The Bohn Heat Transfer Facility (Bohn) site is on 13 acres of land about one mile southeast of Beardstown, Illinois. Air-conditioning evaporators, condensers, and coils were manufactured at Bohn from 1964 to 1986.

In October 1982, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) discovered that Bohn had disposed of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes on the site. Bohn said that various solvents, which may have included trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA), might have been dumped near the loading dock on the northwestern side of the facility. A subsequent investigation in 1983 revealed that groundwater was contaminated with as much as 62,015 parts per billion (ppb) TCE and 1,273 ppb 1,1,1-TCA.

Investigations that have taken place and remedial work that has been performed include:

  • removal of approximately 435 barrels of contaminated soil;
  • removal of 450 cubic yards of bulk contaminated soil;
  • removal of 1,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater;
  • on-site and off-site soil sampling;
  • installation of 22 monitoring wells and 27 hydro-punch borings;
  • extensive groundwater monitoring for TCE, 1,1,1-TCA, and their degradation products;
  • and installation of a groundwater recovery and treatment system.

The extensive groundwater monitoring program revealed the presence of a contaminant plume that extends more than 1,000 feet off the site, but the levels of TCE and 1,1,1-TCA have declined since initial sampling in 1983.

After reviewing the available information, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) determined that this site poses no apparent public health hazard because no one is currently exposed to contaminants in the groundwater. Discussions of potential exposure pathways, of specific contaminants, and of the potential health risks posed to residents are included in this document. IDPH recommends continued operation of the groundwater recovery and treatment system to further reduce on-site and off-site contamination, monitoring of the Beardstown public water supply wells, and monitoring of groundwater in the area. The remedial alternative that was selected provides for these recommendations, and IEPA understands that implementation of the recommendations is important to prevent future exposures.


The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) requested that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) conduct a public health assessment for the Bohn Heat Transfer site. The purpose of this public health assessment is to evaluate, based on the information reviewed and currently available, any known or potential adverse health effects if people are exposed to contaminants related to the site and to identify appropriate action to mitigate exposures and protect the public health of impacted communities. Because this site could be redeveloped as a business, it is a potential Brownfield site.


Site Description and History

The former Bohn Heat Transfer Facility (Bohn) is on 13 acres of land about one mile southeast of Beardstown, Illinois (NW 1/4, Section 24, T.18N, R.12W ). Industrial, agricultural, and residential properties surround the site. The facility is bordered by Route 125 on the northeast, farmland on the northwest, the former Pennington Crossarms and Kent Feed facility on the southwest, and residential property on the east. Kent Feed Road (also known as Industrial Drive) parallels the northwest boundary, and an abandoned B & O railroad track parallels the southwestern boundary (Figure 1).

Casswood Treated Products, another hazardous waste site, is southeast of Bohn across the abandoned B & O railroad tracks. Casswood operated for about 30 years as a wood-treatment plant and contaminated soil and groundwater with pentachlorophenol, metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Groundwater treatment at Casswood has reduced the levels of contaminants. IDPH completed a public health assessment for Casswood, which was published by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on April 22, 1998, that concluded the Casswood site posed no apparent public health hazard and recommended continued groundwater monitoring in the area (1).

Bohn Aluminum Brass Company, a subsidiary of Universal American, began manufacturing evaporators, condensers, and coils in 1964 (2). Gulf and Western Manufacturing Company bought Universal American and operated the Bohn facility until 1986. Wickes Manufacturing assumed ownership of the land when it merged with Gulf and Western Manufacturing Company in 1986. Collins and Aikman Products Company is currently the responsible land owner.

In October 1982, IEPA responded to allegations that plant employees were disposing of unknown materials at the Bohn property. IEPA investigated on October 7, 1982, and discovered that hazardous and non-hazardous wastes had been disposed at the site. Bohn representatives said that the disposal of various organic solvents, which may have included xylene, toluene, methyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and 1,1,1-trichloroethane, may have occurred at the loading dock on the northwestern side of the facility. Bohn voluntarily agreed to clean up the contaminated soil and groundwater. IEPA requested a two-point plan involving removal of contaminated soil and groundwater from the site and an investigation of the extent of groundwater contamination (3).

Peoria Disposal Company (PDC) was hired to perform the soil and groundwater remediation. On December 7, 1982, excavation of contaminated soil and groundwater began. IEPA monitored the level of contamination during the remediation with an organic vapor analyzer. Soil contaminated with solvents at a level greater than 100 parts per million (ppm) was barreled, and soil contaminated at a level less than 100 ppm was bulk disposed at the PDC hazardous waste landfill. Approximately 435 barrels of contaminated soil, 450 cubic yards of bulk contaminated soil, and 1,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater were removed from the site during remediation. Contaminated groundwater was transported to Paducah, Kentucky, for treatment and disposal (3).

Daily & Associates, Engineers, Inc. (Daily) was hired in October 1982 to evaluate groundwater contamination at the site. The initial monitoring plan consisted of installing monitoring wells to determine whether groundwater had been contaminated by waste disposal practices, whether contaminated groundwater had migrated off the site, and the direction and extent of migration. Six monitoring wells were installed north, west, and south of the disposal site at depths from 9 to 34 feet below ground surface (Figure 2). Daily collected groundwater samples four times from November 1982 to March 1983, and analyses showed the presence of low levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA) in monitoring wells 2, 3, 4, and 6. Daily installed four additional monitoring wells at various depths to characterize contaminant migration. Samples from monitoring wells 7 and 8, collected during a 1983 groundwater investigation, contained no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). As of March 1983 (Table 1), Daily estimated that contaminants had migrated 400 feet northwest of the site (4).

IEPA added the site to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) in December 1983 (5). On April 26, 1989, IEPA conducted a Screening Site Inspection. They collected groundwater samples from three previously installed monitoring wells, a home southeast of the site, and Beardstown public supply well 16, about 1,600 feet northwest of the site (Figure 3). IEPA did not sample the closest public supply well (well 11), 900 feet northwest of the site, because it had been inactive since 1982. IEPA collected eight soil samples from on-site and off-site locations to compare the level of contaminants in on-site soils with background levels (Figure 4). Results of the groundwater analyses (Table 2) showed that contamination was present in monitoring well 6 but absent in Beardstown public well 16 and the private well. The results of the soil analyses showed the presence of PAHs in three borings next to the loading dock and in one boring north of Route 125 (Table 3). Because of those results, IEPA recommended immediate removal action (2).

On April 26, 1990, IEPA notified Wickes Manufacturing that a Remedial Investigation (RI) would be required at the site (6). Wickes Manufacturing contracted Wang Engineering, Inc., (WEI) to prepare a work plan and perform the RI, which took place during November and December 1990. The RI included a soil-vapor survey, soil sampling, and groundwater monitoring of two monitoring wells, Beardstown Public Supply Well 16 (Municipal Well 4) and a private well. WEI installed eight additional monitoring wells, including two in the southeast corner of the site and six in the farm field northwest of the site. Groundwater samples from the wells contained residual levels of VOCs (Table 4). Quarterly groundwater monitoring was proposed based on the results and began in June 1991 (Table 5 and 6). PAHs were detected in one soil sample collected next to the loading dock area and in another soil sample collected during installation of the deep monitoring well in the southeastern corner of the site.

In February 1992, WEI installed four additional monitoring wells in the farm field northwest of the site. Those wells included three shallow monitoring wells and one deep bedrock well (7). Groundwater samples collected from those wells in March 1992 contained low levels of site-related contaminants. Samples taken from the deep bedrock well did not suggest that site-related contaminants were migrating downward into the deep bedrock aquifer system.

WEI performed a feasibility study in August 1992 (7). From the recommendations of that study, IEPA selected a groundwater recovery and air stripping system as the remediation alternative. That alternative included installing two groundwater recovery wells (OBGRW-1, OBGRW-2) in the farm field immediately northwest of the site and constructing an on-site treatment system consisting of an air stripper and an infiltration trench. The system reintroduces treated groundwater that meets state standards back into the aquifer (Figure 5).

In March 1993, groundwater samples were collected from 19 shallow soil borings and analyzed for VOCs (8). The borings were drilled in the field west of Industrial Drive and north of the intersection of Beardstown Road and Route 125. Samples from the borings indicated the presence of a contaminant plume that extended at least 1,000 feet northwest from the loading dock (Table 7 and Figure 6). In December 1994, groundwater samples were collected from most Bohn monitoring wells and from six monitoring wells associated with the Casswood site, downgradient of Bohn. Hydro-punch borings (HP-30 to HP-34) also were collected in December 1994 and February 1995 from the field west of Industrial Drive and north of the intersection of Beardstown Road and Route 125. Analyses for VOCs confirmed the presence of a contaminant plume next to the loading dock. This sampling showed that downgradient levels of site-related contaminants had decreased (Table 8).

A groundwater recovery and air stripping system was installed in June 1997, and operations began in September 1997 (9). On November 12, 1997, a semi-annual groundwater monitoring program was initiated. Groundwater elevations were measured at 17 monitoring wells to assess groundwater flow conditions. Samples also were collected from the monitoring wells and two recovery wells and submitted for VOC analysis (Tables 9 and 10). During the first three months of operation, the groundwater recovery system collected and treated about 3.6 million gallons of groundwater. The average total VOC level in the influent was 1,360 parts per billion (ppb), and the average total VOC level in the effluent was 6.3 ppb (10).

Demographics and Natural Resource Use

The city of Beardstown is along the Illinois River and is about one mile northwest of the site. Beardstown has a population of 5,270 people, according to 1990 census data. Four deep public water supply wells are about 2,000 feet northwest of the site and provide drinking water to Beardstown and surrounding areas. Those wells are screened from 60 to 80 feet below ground surface. A small residential subdivision northeast of the site uses private wells for drinking water. Approximately 40 residential and 28 commercial wells are within 2 miles of the site (ISWS, 1997), but not all those wells may be active. No private wells are known to be downgradient of the site. A gas station, a motel, and six homes north of the site across Route 125 use city water. One home is next to the site and uses a private water supply. Beardstown High School is within one mile of the site. Hard Road Pond is northwest of the site across Route 125 and is used for recreational purposes (1).

Regional groundwater flows northwest through the site. Pumping stresses created by the Beardstown public supply well field may have modified groundwater flow direction. Storm water on and near the site should not discharge into any surface water body because of the sandy character of the surficial materials and the lack of drainage features at the site.

Site Visit

IDPH staff visited the site on November 20, 1998, and easily accessed the parking lot of the property from the highway. The former manufacturing building was locked, and a 6-foot-high, chain-link fence surrounded the rest of the property. IDPH observed monitoring wells on and off the site.

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