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The Marion (Bragg) Dump site area, in Marion, Indiana, has been classified as a public health hazard to individuals who eat fish from the off-site pond. Tissue sampling of fish taken from the off-site pond revealed mercury contamination at levels of health concern. The pond water and sediment poses an indeterminate public health hazard because mercury was present at high levels in the initial sampling but was absent in a subsequent surface water sample. Individuals should not consume fish taken from the off-site pond. Additional samples of the water, sediment, and fish should be taken from the off-site pond.

There is no apparent public health hazard from on-site exposure because access to the contaminated soil is restricted by a fence surrounding the site and by a clay cap that was installed over the dump. The direction of the contaminated groundwater flow is north toward the Mississinewa River, and there are no residences between the site and the river. However, the site could potentially present a public health hazard if the site is converted to a residential area. Under such a scenario, residents who construct private wells could tap into the upper contaminated aquifer and be exposed to groundwater contaminants. The presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs); phthalates, such as di-n-butyl-phthalate and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate; and arsenic in the groundwater could become a major concern. Future residents and construction workers could also be exposed to contaminants in subsurface soil that is uncovered during construction activities at the site.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has recommended the continued restriction of access to the site and the continued monitoring of the Mississinewa River for site-related contaminants.

The Marion (Bragg) public health assessment has been evaluated by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Health Activities Recommendation Panel (HARP) for appropriate follow-up health actions. ISDH will continue to provide community health education on site-related health issues. HARP concurred with ISDH that although it is possible that individuals were previously exposed to on-site contaminants during recreational activities, adverse health effects are unlikely because of the short time period and low levels of exposure. No other follow-up actions are indicated at this time.


A. Site Description and History

The Marion (Bragg) Dump National Priorities List (NPL) site is off Central Avenue near the southeast edge of the city of Marion (see Figure 1). The site consists of 72 acres of land. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) requested the inclusion of 10 acres of land because of possible hazardous waste disposal in this area. It lies in a relatively flat area within the Mississinewa River flood plain. The site is bordered on the north and east by the Mississinewa River. The International Organization of Odd Fellows Cemetery (IOOF) is along the western border, and Eastside Cove (a former campground and recreational facility) is along the site's southern border. Eastside Cove is closed to the public and is now used for training dogs.

Figure 1. Site Map for Marion (Bragg) Dump

The Marion (Bragg) Dump site was used as a sand and gravel quarry from 1935 until approximately 1961. During the period from 1949 through 1970, Radio Corporation of America leased and used portions of the site for industrial refuse disposal. Concurrently, during the period from 1957 to 1975, Bragg Construction Company leased and used the site as a municipal dump. Periodic inspections (1973-75) by the ISDH specifically noted the disposal of hazardous or prohibited wastes including acetone, plasticizers, lacquer thinners, and enamels (1). Drummed wastes were allegedly emptied from the drums (estimated 30,000 units) and "worked" into the dump waste with a bulldozer. Drums were allegedly rinsed and resold.

Other commonly occurring improper activities at the site included the lack of daily cover, placing waste in standing water (pond encroachment), and the burning of refuse. In October 1975, Bragg Construction ceased operation of the site. The site was to have been covered with a sandy/silty material and seeded. The site was never formally closed through the ISDH. In June 1975, Waste Reduction System, a division of Decatur Salvage, Inc., constructed a transfer station on the premises in order to transfer solid wastes to an approved landfill. In January 1980, the ISDH issued a letter stating that the transfer station had been closed in a satisfactory manner.

The site was scored using the Hazard Ranking System (HRS) and proposed for inclusion on the NPL in December 1982 (2). It was placed on the NPL final list in September 1983. In 1983 a Remedial Action Master Plan (RAMP) was prepared for the site. Preliminary field work for the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) began in late August-early September 1985 (3). Phase I of the RI sampling was conducted in February-March of 1986. Phase II of the RI activities was conducted in July of 1986.

In October 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to review an Initial Site Evaluation (July 1985) and to review the Sampling and Analysis Plan (August 1985) for the proposed RI for the site (4). The purpose was to determine if potential health problems were adequately addressed. Data submitted from the plan included sampling from the Marion Paving Company well and two water supply wells in the Eastside Cove Area. ATSDR's review was to determine any possible health effects resulting from drinking water from these three wells. In November 1985, ATSDR concluded that none of the data submitted indicated that the sampled wells had been contaminated (5). However, these wells were not sampled for the same chemicals found in the monitoring wells at the site.

In July 1986, the EPA submitted the results of groundwater samples from 11 wells analyzed for a variety of chemicals. Concentrations of these chemicals were compared to National Primary and Secondary Drinking Water Standards, and other applicable health advisories. Contaminants were detected in municipal and private wells in the surrounding community. Information on the uses of the water for private wells was not included. The EPA forwarded these data to ATSDR. EPA requested information on the potential health effects associated with exposure to the reported levels of strontium as well as iron, manganese, sodium, and the compounds detected.

ATSDR concluded there were no acute or long-term health concerns of residents being exposed to chemicals in the drinking water. Strontium levels reported in the wells did not pose a significant threat to public health.

At the request of EPA in November 1986, ATSDR reviewed data and rendered an opinion as to whether drinking water from four residential wells near the site posed a health threat. The results showed the water was safe to consume. None of the EPA Primary Drinking Water Standards were exceeded. Iron and manganese exceeded Secondary Drinking Water Standards. Secondary drinking water standards are not health based, but deal primarily with odor and taste.

A public meeting was held in Marion in August 1987 to present the cleanup alternatives for the site, and the reasons for selecting the chosen alternative. The selected interim remedy included: a sanitary landfill cap, flood protection, site access restriction, and monitoring of water quality and aquatic life of the on-site pond and river waters. The Record of Decision (ROD) was signed on September 30, 1987 (1). Nineteen Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) were notified. Of these, six agreed to a Consent Decree in September 1988 to design and construct site closure, conduct additional studies, and provide for future monitoring of the site. The Consent Decree was signed and entered in federal court in July 1990 (6). The PRPs are continuing to proceed under the decree's terms, and with EPA's authorization, to implement remedial action under the supervision of the state of Indiana and EPA.

B. Site Visit

On September 21, 1990, Gregory Steele, Garry Mills, and Ravishankar Rao of the ISDH and staff from IDEM visited the site area, and the following were observed:

  • The clay cap was being installed on the site.

  • Access to the site was not restricted next to the Mississinewa River.

  • Several areas north and east of the site bordering the river banks contained waste materials and drums.

  • There was a difference in elevation between the edge of the site and the off-site pond with the off-site pond being lower and having the potential to be contaminated from the erosion of soil from the site.

On September 8, 1994, a perimeter site visit was conducted at the Marion (Bragg) Dump Superfund site by Ms. Dollis Wright and Mr. Garry Mills of the ISDH. The purpose of the site visit was to provide the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry with an update on site conditions as an addendum to a previous site visit conducted by the ISDH on September 21, 1990.

The following are observations made during the site visit and actions taken at the site as of September 8, 1994:

  1. Access to the site is restricted by a fence surrounding the entire site per conversation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) project manager.

  2. Warning signs are posted on the fence surrounding the property.

  3. The site is now in the operation and maintenance stage. The site is periodically monitored by the city of Marion (fence maintenance, grass cutting) and the potentially responsible parties (sampling) under the oversight of the EPA.

  4. Visible from the east and south perimeters of the site were:

    • a gravel road which appeared to run through the site;
    • heavy vegetation throughout the site; and
    • a large pond.

  5. A windshield tour was also taken of the area around the Marion (Bragg) Dump including the Eastside Cove recreation area and residences along Monroe Pike, which are north of the Mississinewa River.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

In this subsection, we report distances of nearby features from the site that are not reported in the Site Visit subsection.


In 1990, Grant County had a population of 74,169 and the city of Marion had a population of 32,618. The site is in Center Township, which has a population of 25,894 (U.S. Census Bureau). There are approximately 98 chief industries in the Marion area. Leading manufactured products are sheet metal parts, insulated copper wire and cable, foundry products, shipping products and display cases, food products, cosmetics, glassware, automobile parts, aircraft parts, chrome furniture, various paper products, electronic components, and plastic products.

Manufacturing establishments employ approximately 28,478 workers. The average salary for workers in the city of Marion is $17,295. The average age for males is 29.5 years and 31.7 years for females. The ethnic makeup in the site area is mainly white. Approximately 3,000 people are reported to live within a 1-mile radius of the site. Most of these individuals reside within ½ mile west and southwest of the site. The nearest residences are along Monroe Pike, which is north and across the river ¼ mile from the site, and at a trailer park southeast and across the river, also ¼ mile from the site. The Jefferson School is within 1 mile of the site. Eastside Cove is next to the site.

Land Use

A 15-acre pond formed from sand and gravel quarry operations is in the center of the site. The on-site pond was occasionally used for recreational purposes such as swimming, boating, and fishing. The on-site pond received discharges associated with gravel-washing operations from Marion Paving Company. A large pond of similar size is off-site in the Eastside Cove area adjacent to the southern site boundary. This pond is used for fishing. The east and north banks of the Mississinewa River, opposite the site, are zoned for residential and agricultural uses.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 209,000 acres within Grant County are used for agricultural purposes. Approximately 80 percent of the land in Grant County is farmed. The major crops grown in the county are corn and soy beans.

The Mississinewa River is considered a general-use river. Mississinewa Reservoir is 6 river miles downstream from the city of Marion. It is used for flood control and recreation. The river and reservoir are not used as a water supply source.

Natural Resource Use

The economic mineral resources of Grant County include sand and gravel, limestone, clay, peat, oil, and gas. Sand and gravel deposits are relatively widespread in Grant County and occur primarily as glacial outwash volley train deposits along the Mississinewa River Valley. Although limestone, peat and clay are economic resources of Grant County, they are either scattered or occur in small amounts and are therefore not mined at the present time. Oil and gas production from the Trenton Field in Grant County reached its peak in the late 1800s. The oil and gas production ended with its depletion in the early 1900s. Today small amounts of gas are being produced for domestic or farm use.

D. Health Outcome Data

This section identifies the relevant, available databases; their evaluation occurs in the Public Health Implications section. Cancer may be a plausible health outcome from long-term exposure to at least one of the chemicals of concern. The ISDH maintains a statewide cancer registry; however, data regarding cancer incidence by city and county are not yet available. In addition, the ISDH maintains a mortality database by county. Mortality data on Grant County are available and were compared to Indiana and U.S. cancer rates by race, gender, and year. Since Marion is the largest city in the county, Grant County cancer rates provide a reasonable estimate of the city cancer rates. The public health implications of these data will be evaluated in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation subsection.


No additional community health concerns were reported during the public comment period of the health assessment (November 12, 1994 - December 12, 1994). Previously documented concerns are based on EPA correspondence to a private citizen, and a news article from the June 19, 1988, issue of the Marion Chronicle Tribune (7)(8).

The concerns of the citizens are:

  1. development of methane gas in the dump from decomposing organic material;

  2. monitoring data for off-site migration of runoff and fugitive dust;

  3. potential contamination of the fish in the on-site and off-site ponds, which have not been analyzed in the past;

  4. if EPA or the contractors have found any new types of contaminants, or known contaminants with higher or lower concentrations, and how the effects of these findings impact the validity of the health evaluation of the site; if the health evaluation should be redone;

  5. leachate observed entering the river;

  6. piles of decaying barrels observed along the riverbanks; and

  7. that the selected site cleanup method, a sanitary landfill cap, is grossly inappropriate for this site.

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