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The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), has determined that the 40-acre Woodstock Municipal Landfill National Priorities List (NPL) site in McHenry County, Illinois currently poses no apparent public health hazard since there is presently no exposure to contaminants at levels of health concern. In the future, the site could pose a health threat due to the potential migration of contaminated on-site groundwater to downgradient private wells. In the deep glacial till, on-site groundwater movement has not been well-characterized, and off-site groundwater has not been examined. As a result, it is unknown which private wells to the east, south, or west are downgradient of the landfill and whether site contaminants may reach any of them at levels of health concern. Additional development (business, industrial, and residential) and private wells are likely in the area. If homes or other structures are built on-site, the likelihood of exposure to hazardous substances at levels of health concern will increase; however, existing institutional controls make this unlikely.

Exposure to on-site surface soil by dermal contact, ingestion, or inhalation (dust) is the only completed exposure pathway. However, for the past and present, this exposure is infrequent, of short duration, and probably negligible. Potential exposure pathways include the inhalation of gases and dust, the ingestion of polluted groundwater and sediments, and dermal contact with polluted groundwater, sediments, or surface water.

Citizens have expressed concerns including (1) the possible contamination of municipal and private wells, (2) pollution of Kishwaukee Creek, and (3) possible health effects in children from playing on-site. These concerns are discussed in the Community Health Concerns Evaluation section of this document.

Recommendations of the IDPH include (1) the periodic monitoring of private wells near the site to ensure that no contaminant exposure is occurring at levels of health concern, (2) further characterization of on- and off-site geology and hydrogeology to determine which private wells are downgradient and the likelihood of their contamination, (3) continuation of the existing institutional controls to prevent future on-site construction of homes or other buildings, and (4) continued on-site groundwater monitoring.


A. Site Description and History

The Woodstock Municipal Landfill is a 40-acre site in McHenry County, Illinois, Section 17, T44N, R7E, which has been placed on the National Priority Listing (NPL) of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). It is approximately 550 feet south of U.S. Highway 14 and about 1,400 feet west of Illinois Highway 47 (Figures 1 and 2). The landfill is on the southern edge of Woodstock and is within the city limits.

The site has had a number of owners since 1935. In 1940, Harry and Eunice Davidson conveyed it to William E. Gaulke, who subsequently sold it to the Woodstock Commission Sales Company for highway purposes. In 1956, the site was sold back to William E. Gaulke, who leased it to the City of Woodstock from 1958 to 1968. In 1968, it was conveyed to the City of Woodstock, the current owner (Warzyn, Inc., 1992).

From 1935 until 1958, the site was a trash dump and open burning area used by unknown people and companies. From 1958 to 1968, it was used for residential garbage and various industrial solid wastes (sources and types mostly unknown). In 1965, the site was converted into a sanitary landfill, and operations continued until 1975, when it was closed. In October 1980, it was placed on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) "closed and covered" list.

Cover over most of the site consists of 2 to 3 feet of loam, silty loam, silty clay loam, and sandy loam. However, the cover is less than 1 foot thick at one location, and refuse is exposed in some areas. The fill was reportedly 40 percent household and garden refuse and 60 percent industrial waste, mostly of unknown origin. About 12,480 cubic yards of electroplating sludge from Altra Corporation (now Allied Chemical) and 3,000 cubic yards of nickel sludge from Autolite, Woodstock, were reportedly placed in the landfill. A 1964 aerial photograph suggested drums of industrial waste may have been buried in one area. Lime soda sludge was placed in the swampy southern and southeastern portion. Other industrial wastes included automobile batteries and repair-turning chips and grinding files, magnetic powders, metal fabricating solvents, plastics, print shop inks, solvents and type wash, scrap computer tape, waste paint and coating materials, and wastewater treatment sludge. In 1983, IEPA granted the City a permit to landfarm municipal sewage sludge on site, but this practice was stopped in 1988 (Warzyn, Inc., 1992; Hingtgen, 1986; USEPA, 1985; Hughes et al., 1971).

By 1970, leachate seeps were noted on the southern edge of the landfill. In that year, possible treatment of leachate at the soon-to-be-built sewage treatment plant southeast of the site was examined. However, limited leachate analysis found mainly chloride, iron, and total dissolved solids, which sewage treatment would not greatly reduce. Also, the levels of these substances in Kishwaukee Creek were similar upstream and downstream from the site. Closing and covering the landfill in 1976 greatly reduced leachate seeps (IEPA files, 1989). However, a 1985 site inspection by Ecology and the Environment (USEPA contractor), found leachate seeps on the southern part of the landfill (USEPA, 1985).

Between 1970 and 1974, IEPA began corresponding with Woodstock city officials concerning the following violations at the landfill (IEPA files, 1989):

1. indiscriminate dumping near the fence at Davis Road,

2. wood, brush, and combustibles not being covered as required,

3. liquids being deposited on-site, and

4. inadequate cover over final refuse.

A 1972 permit allowed the City of Woodstock to operate the landfill as a solid waste management site. Conditions of the permit required a leachate collection system and a network of monitoring wells. Between 1974 and 1976, IEPA cited the City for the following permit violations (IEPA files, 1989):

1. leachate collection system and monitoring wells were not installed,

2. final cover of the landfill was inadequate,

3. non-permitted sludges from Woodstock Die Cast, Inc., were being dumped, and

4. non-permitted lime sludges from the water treatment plant were being accepted.

On May 21, 1992, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released an interim preliminary health assessment for the site that was prepared by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) under a cooperative agreement. The document concluded the site was an indeterminate public health hazard because chemical concentrations in sediment and surface water of Kishwaukee Creek, on-site surface soil, and private wells were unknown.

B. Site Visit

Site visits were conducted on April 12, 1989, and August 31, 1991, by IDPH staff, on November 7, 1991, by IDPH and ATSDR staff, and on December 7, 1993, February 6, 1996, and December 17, 1996, by IDPH staff. The northern and southern sides of the site are fenced; however, it is low and is not an effective barrier to trespassers. Taller chain-link, barbed wire-topped fences around the perimeter of a Farm and Fleet store property (northern part of the eastern side of the site) and wastewater treatment plant (eastern part of the southern side of the site) do not restrict access to the site. In 1991, the northern site fence had signs that read, "Warning; this area contains hazardous materials; no trespassing." By December 7, 1993, these were replaced by "No Trespassing" signs. Brush, grass, and trees cover the landfill, but there are some bare areas and exposed trash. The nearest private wells are about 300 feet north of the northeastern and northwestern corners of the site and serve two residences. Another well near the northwestern corner of the site serves the Door Township Garage. Marshes border Kishwaukee Creek, which is too small to be fished.

On February 6, 1996, large piles of soil about 25 to 30 feet high were on the northwestern part of the site, to be used as cover for the landfill. The low perimeter fence had signs saying, "Warning; Woodstock Landfill; EPA Superfund Site; Authorized Personnel Only; Area Contains Hazardous Chemicals in Soils and Groundwater." The ground had been snow-covered for more than one week, and no human footprints were observed entering the site. Vehicles had entered the site through a locked gate. On the northwestern part of the site, relatively new drums were on a pad. The drums contained primarily soil and used personal protective equipment from the pre-remedial design investigation. Apartments and businesses located about 2,500 feet east of the site, across Route 47, are served by municipal water. Homes about 2,500 feet southeast of the site are served by private wells. On December 17, 1996, the site was essentially unchanged.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

Within a 3-mile radius of the site, rural residences house about 1,500 people (Warzyn, Inc., 1992). The City of Woodstock, 1990 U.S. Census population of 14,353, is primarily north of the site. The land around the site is used for agriculture, commerce, light industry, and residences. Light industry (offices, restaurants, retail stores, and small businesses) is primarily to the east, but also north of the site. Land use north of the site is primarily agricultural and residential, while that to the west is mostly agricultural and undeveloped. Agricultural and marshy land is to the south. According to well logs from the Illinois State Water Survey, there are 51 wells within a 2-mile radius of the landfill (Figure 3). Most of these wells are 50 to 100 feet deep, but one was 40 feet deep (Warzyn, Inc., 1992).

The City of Woodstock currently draws water from four municipal wells (Nos. 4, 7A, 8, and 10; Figure 4), which draw from the glacial till. The four wells vary in depth from 114 to 205 feet and are screened below 100 feet. These wells are 2 to 3 miles north of the site. Use of Wells No. 2 and 3 was discontinued in December 1986; use of Wells No. 1 and 7 was stopped in 1989, and use of Wells No. 5 and 6 was halted in 1991. To replace the abandoned wells, two new wells were drilled. Well No. 10 was recently drilled and is currently not in use. Well No. 9 was to be used in 1992, but only 24 hours per month (Warzyn, Inc., 1992).

At present, the landfill is owned by the City of Woodstock and is zoned for single family residences. The City has passed a Special Use Permit that restricts use of the site to a city park. While the City currently has no plans to sell the land, this could take place in the future. If homes are built on-site, a City ordinance requires that they be connected to the municipal water supply. Much of the surrounding land is not within the City limits. The population of McHenry County has been increasing rapidly, and additional development (commercial, industrial, or residential) around the site is likely in the future.

Kishwaukee Creek, at this point a channeled drainage ditch, flows southwest and south of the site. A short distance south and southeast of the landfill, the Woodstock sewage treatment plant releases about 690,000 gallons per day of treated effluent into Kishwaukee Creek. The total flow of water in the stream is about 1 million gallons per day. About 25 miles downstream from the landfill, the ditch becomes the Kishwaukee River, which is used for boating, fishing, and swimming.

In winter, the site is used by snowmobilers, and hunters use wetland areas south of the landfill. Hunting on the landfill has not been documented.

D. Health Outcome Data

The State of Illinois maintains data bases for cancer and birth defects. These data are organized according to zip code and can be used to compare incidence rates of the site zip code to the state as a whole or to a control group. Such a comparison is made if (1) exposure to a chemical(s) is occurring at levels which may cause an adverse health effect(s), (2) the adverse health effect is recorded on one of the state data bases, and (3) many people in a given zip code are exposed. A comparison is also made if the community is concerned a disease rate is elevated and the three conditions above are satisfied.


A citizen action group, the McHenry County Defenders (MCD), is concerned about possible groundwater contamination of municipal and nearby private wells. Part of their concern also involves the high number of industrial activities in the area. The industrial facilities in the area are beyond the scope of this document. Another concern is the potential for surface water pollution from contaminated groundwater. Since part of the site is in a flood plain, MCD members were concerned that pollution would be washed down Kishwaukee Creek.

Nearby residents are concerned that children playing on-site may experience adverse health effects. Both nearby residents and MCD are concerned about any remedial alternative and the cost involved, particularly because the City of Woodstock is a potentially responsible party. Costs of remediation are beyond the scope of this document.

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